It was a rare evening practice for the Broncos last night as they made a fresh return of the Christmas break; many sporting a new look with the hair. Several of the guys have got rid of the " flow " and have gone for the more conservative look. A fresh start and a new outlook has to be on many of the players minds after a 18-14-0-5 and a 8th place spot in the Conference.
A lot of the guys looked good and had a smile and that was a nice change after a tough two games to conclude the U.S. swing in Portland and Seattle.
"It's never good losing to the worst team in the league (Portland), and we were embarrassed by Seattle the next night and that's still in the back of our heads. It's up to us to prove it to Dean (Chynoweth) and Tim that we're better than that," commented Eric Doyle as he rode the bike following practice in the makeshift weight room.
Spencer McAvoy weighed in on the situation. 'Macker is a great interview and puts his thoughts together well.
" There's not a lot of points separating 8th from 1st but we want to come out and have to start winning here, play every game like its the playoffs. It's broken up into three seasons, this is the 2nd part with playoffs being the third and this has to be our biggest half going into the playoffs. We have to want to win here...."
Broncos 2nd round draft choice from 2006 defenseman James Martin is up with the club for the weekend. He will take a spot on the blueline that is healthy with the exception of RJ Larochelle is out for an indefinite period of time.
Assistant Coach Tim Kehler fresh off a North Van Christmas ran practice with Dean Chynoweth away scouting at the Macs "AAA" midget tournament in Calgary. Kehler will lead practice again this morning before Dean returns behind the bench for tomorrow night's game against Medicine Hat.
The main thing I got from a little trip down to the rink was this team has the right mindset going into the 2nd half but will still have to back it up with their play on the ice. Goal production has been down over the last 15 games or so and have been a lot harder to come by. A clean slate for some of the top guys on this team maybe what's needed.
It was quite the day across the league as players and team personnel scrambled through airports across Western Canada to get back to their WHL club.
I shared a flight from Edmonton to Saskatoon with Raiders overage defenseman Jeff May and a Saskatoon Blade who I didn't recognize. In the airport, Raiders marketing director Bruce Vance was picking up goaltender Steven Sanford and forward Mike Small. I walked right past veteran Brandon Wheat King Theran Yeo who was ready to board the plane I just arrived on - the next stop was on to Winnipeg. Yeo is tough to miss. If you've seen him off the ice you know what I mean.
I had a chance to tour around the I-plex having not been inside since the beginning of December. The new visitor dressing room area will be roomy and nice. Although not completed, the WHL visitors will have a nice set-up in the future. The new space is located underneath the new wrap-around seating and luxury boxes.
If construction crews were shooting to be done after Christmas they missed the mark. There appears to be plenty of finishing work still to be done. It looks to be still a month or so from being completely finished. That's just a guess....