Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bus Blogging / Day Five

The last time I checked, the WHL still wasn’t awarding points to teams who outplayed their opponent but didn’t come away with the win.

With that in mind, I thought the Broncos probably played their best game of the season without recording the victory as they took it to the hometown Tri-City Americans for almost the entire 60 minutes. The final score will read Americans 3 Broncos 2 in regulation and that’s the way it goes some nights. Believe me, the Broncos have been on the winning side of games like that too. You almost feel like you’ve stolen two points.

The Ams didn’t steal it. They are a good team and they know how to win – especially at home where they improved their record to a league best 15-2.

The Broncos have played the top two teams in the U.S. division and could have won both games. If this is the best the U.S. division has then I think this team will be OK. Granted the Broncos caught the Spokane Chiefs in their first game back from an extended road trip while the Americans played their 5th game in seven nights. Take it for what you will.

It’s good to see what these teams are all about up close and personal. You can only judge a team by the numbers and take it so far. The game still needs to be played to see what makes each team tick. It’s easy to judge a team from reading something on the internet or looking at goals for/against stats to form an opinion. I prefer to see them for myself before making assumptions.

As for the Americans, they are a wide-open team who love to wind it up with plenty of skill in their forward group. Although their forwards looked a little sluggish at times, you can see the talent they have. Their defense isn’t overly strong and is maybe lacking a big body shutdown type player. They have some youth and inexperience. I think if they are going deadline day shopping a veteran defenseman or maybe even two will be on the list for General Manager Bob Tory. Defense isn’t seemingly much of a priority though – at least not on this night.

After outshooting the Ams 22-12 through two periods and tripling them on scoring chances, Chet Pickard had his team in front 2-1.

Then one of the strangest goals I’ve seen in awhile occurred with 8:49 to play in the third. Ryan Molle’s hard dump in from center-ice was going wide of the net until Pickard ventured out of his crease to knock the chest high puck with the paddle of his stick. He caught a piece of it and deflected it into his own net. I had that “what just happened” feeling describing it as the Broncos finally caught a break.

The Broncos and Ams were tied 2-2. But just less than two minutes later a Blair McCauley knuckler from just inside the blueline dipped on Travis Yonkman and went under his blocker as the Ams regained their one goal advantage.

Blair McCauley is the older brother to Scott who was a standout in Broncos training camp. Scott decided to go back to play Junior “A” back home in Winnipeg instead of playing on the Broncos blueline this season. The Broncos are still hoping he has a change of heart but it looks less and less likely of that happening.

The Broncos pulled the goaltender late but couldn’t get that one clear-cut opportunity to tie it as the Ams held on for the 3-2 win.

Erik Felde played a strong game in his return to Tri-Cities. He showed his speed in the first period when he blew away from T.J. Fast for a partial breakaway only to be denied by Pickard,

The Broncos left immediately after the game for the four-hour trip to Everett. They will meet the Silvertips Wednesday night at the EEC.

Here’s some pics from day five……

Spokane Arena in the daytime

Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler goes for a workout a few hours before departure to Kennewick, WA for tonight's game against the Americans.

Spokane River just out back of our hotel.

A nice scenic city of about 400,000

Erik Felde departs Spokane to face his former mates in Tri-Cities. That's his dad in the trunk. He's made the trip from Anchorage, AK for this one.

Broadcast view to the left at the Toyota Center

view to the right...

Human bowling during intermission

Broncos time-out with 24 seconds to play and a face-off deep inside Ams territory.

Life in junior hockey.... 3am arrival at the Everett Events Center. Hang up the gear, unpack and check into the hotel. This scene will be repeated 30 times over the course of a season be at home or on the road.

For most of the guys it's their first look at the EEC. There's only three or four that have played in the building including Eric Doyle who will face his former teammates Wednesday night.

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