This is being put together somewhere between Whitewood and the Manitoba border as the Broncos head over to Brandon to get comfortable before tomorrow night's game.
This is the first meeting of the season.between the two teams after a pretty spirited season series last year. Levi Nelson was seemingly a target for most of the head-to-head meetings after a knee on knee hit delivered to Dustin Kohn which the league handed a suspension out on.
A lot of the characters have changed from last season – especially on Brandon's side. No more Mark Derlago, Codey Burki, Juraj Simek, Ryan Reaves, Dustin Kohn, Rob Klinkhammer and Tyler Plante just to name a few.
Looking at Brandon's team last year got me thinking the Broncos are a pretty similar team this year to the 06/07 Wheat Kings. On paper they have many similarities. Depth on offense with some high end scorers, a mobile blueline that chipped in with offense, some talented young players on the rise and some solid, steady goaltending.
So how far did that team take Brandon? After a first round battle with Moose Jaw in which the Wheaties came out on top, the Calgary Hitmen won a hard fought seven game series to end Brandon's season. So what will the Broncos have to do different to avoid a similar playoff fate? Good question. Maybe I will ask Kelly Macrimmon that tomorrow in the Coaches Show. Will see if he thinks it a legit comparison or not. And, if he could offer some advice to the division rivals.
The game will also mark the end to the first quarter of the season for the Broncos. Tomorrow night's pre-game show will take a look at the team at the ¼ mark. We will take a look at highs and lows, who the MVP has been and talk about some of the nice surprises in the early going. We will also take a look at what areas need work and where the team wants to improve. For the record, most of the guys I talked to think captain Zack Smith is the hands down MVP to date.
We're on the air at 6pm tomorrow with the Big Show, play-by-play at 6:30.
I checked out the Broncos worksheds the team is working on as part of the veterans life skills class they are taking through Cypress Hills College. They look pretty good. The guys are having a good time with it. Levi Nelson and Zack Smith have been the go-to guys apparently. So far, no fingers missing. Broncos 1 Riders 0.
I asked a few on the job questions and got some pretty funny responses. I will try and piece it together for Saturday night's broadcast.
The guys are building these sheds which will then be auctioned off for charity through a raffle just like last year. It's a pretty good deal.
My apologies to Sean Chapman and the Cypress Cyclones Junior “B” team out in Maple Creek. I referred to some of our fans as “Junior B” after some bottles were thrown onto the ice during the Broncos/Pats game Tuesday. In a friendly tone, the Cyclones General Manager re-assured me that nothing like that happens out in the Creek. I guess I will have to choose my words more wisely next time.
Around town I've been hearing fans talking about the Broncos needing to add some muscle, maybe an enforcer type player. It may be good in theory but in the big picture there are not a lot of teams in the league that have that designated guy.
Regina and Moose Jaw have some added toughness just simply because the other one does and the eight head-to-head meetings usually escalate quickly. The two are in a virtual arms race when it comes to that department.
Most teams in the conference are like the Broncos without the enforcer type player. Brandon, Prince Albert, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and to a lesser degree Medicine Hat ( Jordan Bendfeld is needed on the ice this year), all do not have that one dimensional player.
The other side to that is who do you take out of the line-up? Someone would have to sit and it would likely be one of the up and coming rookies. Do we really want to take ice-time away from those guys?
The Broncos can score, and have the ability to blow out some teams this season. Examples include 6-1 over P.G., 10-1 over Edmonton, 7-2 against the Hat, and 5-1 over Regina. Everytime the score is run up, the chances of the game getting ugly increase.
I have a feeling the Broncos will monitor the situation and if push comes to shove (literally) they will add someone after Christmas or at the deadline. For now, I wouldn't expect any movement.
We will soon be pulling into Brandon's version of the Biodome, aka the Canad Inns hotel. It's everything you need including the rink under one roof. The hotel and the Keystone Center plus restaurants and a pub are all attached so there is no need to venture outside. That comes in handy in the dead of winter.