Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pond Hockey Exemplified

Last night's 6-5 loss to Medicine Hat was a tough one to swallow for the Broncos and their fans. But, in retrospect the Broncos played with fire all night long giving up way to many quality scoring chances from the drop of the puck to the final seconds of the 3rd.

The Tigers never had the lead until 12.6 seconds to go in the game after Brennan Bosch banked home his 4th goal of the night to give the Tigers the go-ahead goal.

Although highly entertaining for the fans, that game easily featured the most blunders in a game I've seen this season - from both sides. Defensive errors, bad giveaways, poor defensive play and that's what you get. A run and gun pond hockey game that features some thunderous physical play along the way.

What's wrong with the Broncos? Too many quality scoring chances against is resulting in a lot of goals against lately (14 the last two games). Travis Yonkman was extremely busy last night with the Tigers choosing to throw every puck on net. The Tigers top players all showed up and played huge roles. Two goals on the 5-on-3 powerplay also helped Medicine Hat look very explosive last night. That's not the team Medicine Hat has resembled for most of this season. Goals have been hard to come by for the Tigers... except for last night.

So how do we fix this problem? One step would be to acquire a shutdown defenseman or two at the deadline or just get the team committed to playing for defensively as a unit. With R.J. Larochelle sidelined for an indefinite amount of time the Broncos will have to do something. The question is at what expense?

Quality defenseman that can be in a team's top four do not grow on trees. As Dean Chynoweth said last night in our pre-game show, there are some quality players being dangled by teams but the price is too rich with the deadline two weeks away. He mentioned the price tag usually drops as the deadline approaches.

So who is out there? Here's a list of d-men who may (or may not) be on the move come deadline. They are listed in the order of who I think WHL teams will go after the most.

1. Ty Wishart - PG Cougars. He's going somewhere without a doubt but where? It'll take a 1st round bantam pick or the equivalent (rumoured asking price) to pry him from Dallas Thompson in PG. He can do it all though. Shutdown defenseman, runs the powerplay. He's the hottest defensive commodity at the deadline.

2. Dane Crowley - Everett Silvertips. Depending on what direction the Tips decide to go in, Dane Crowley would be a welcomed addition to any team's back end. The durable, well rounded d-man could get some interest. Could you imagine Dane back in Swift? Never say never. This is pure speculation and isn't based on anything chatter I've heard. Still, it's nice to think about it.

3. Scott Jackson - Seattle Thunderbirds. Again, Seattle may think they can put a run together and may go shopping instead. Jackson is a big body veteran d-man who has struggled with injuries this season. Dean Chynoweth thinks highly of him from when he coached in Seattle. He's an impressive physical specimen and plays the role. I like his style a lot. He will bring leadership to a team looking to make a run. Again, Seattle probably will choose to keep him for their own interests. Still.....

4. Jeff May - Prince Albert. Another player who will more than likely be moving come the deadline. May is more of an offensive defenseman but can play in his own zone too. The over age will garner plenty of phone calls to Donn Clark over the next two weeks in Raiderville.

And six more random names we could see on the move in the next couple weeks.....

Bretton Stamler - Edmonton Oil Kings. Maybe for a draft pick. Good leadership, toughness and grit.

Jonathan Harty - Everett Silvertips. For the same reasons as Stamler. He competes like no one else on the 'Tips roster.

Mike Gauthier - Kamloops Blazers - Size, strength and toughness. He no doubt has those three in his repertoire.

Ryan Bender - Kamloops Blazers - Tough as nails Regina kid who is a leader and a competitive SOB. I mean that in a good way.

Mark Louis - Red Deer Rebels - Veteran leader who has logged a lot of games in this league and played for some good coaches in Brandon and Red Deer. Some team will snag him for a 5th or 6th rounder quite possibly.

Matt Swaby - Edmonton Oil Kings - I've liked his style this season. Plays a ton in key situations with the Oil Kings.


This is all speculation but might provide a little bit of a trade deadline preview of who's out there . We'll find out in a couple weeks.....


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