Last night's game was a tough one to watch.
The ice was awful, the worst I've seen in this league. Sure it was the same for both teams but it meant the Broncos had trouble with the run and gun style they like to play and crisp passes were almost out the the question.
Frankly the ice was embarrassing. I hear it's like that most nights. If that's the case then the league should look into it. How much entertainment can it be for the fans to watch a mucky game with no flow and constant delays for ice repairs? Maybe that's why there was no one there but it was still called a "big crowd" by other members of the media for the Friday night game.
As for the game, the Broncos have no one to blame but themselves. They trailed 2-0 entering the third thanks in large part to an energised Portland team after being spanked 7-0 in Spokane Wednesday night, and a strong goaltending performance from Kurtis Mucha. The Broncos comeback attempt was stopped dead in the third thanks to six minor penalties almost consecutively.
Two were double minors for high-sticking served up to Levi Nelson and Dale Wiese. Wiese's hurt the most as the Broncos had just pulled within a goal at 2-1 and back on the powerplay.
Portland scored at the end of the 2nd minor to go up 3-1 and that's the way it would end. The Broncos lone goal came from Erik Felde on a 2-on-1 break alongside Mike Wilson who feathered a nice pass to Felde who finished it off. The puck actually stayed flat on the Wilson dish.
Portland is a better team than their record would indicate and I didn't get the feeling the Broncos were taking them lightly coming in. Kevin Undershute factored in on all three Portland goals while Tyler Swystun and Travis Erhardt provided most of the offensive chances and also picked up assists.
The Broncos missed Eric Doyle last night. The rear-guard would have been a welcomed addition on the powerplay that struggled mostly because of their back-end. Doyle was left back at the hotel last night in Seattle because if illness. I saw him a few minutes ago in the fitness room and he didn't look great. I would assume he's doubtful for tonight's final game of the swing in Seattle against the T-Birds.
Give Portland credit, their powerplay looked great all night with their eight opportunities. I heard some fans in the radio time out proclaim "this is the best our powerplay has looked in two years".
It was nice to chat with Andy Kemper before last night's game. The 1st year Winter Hawks broadcaster is trying to make the most out of a tough season on the ice. He seemed pretty positive. Lord knows what I would be like if we were 6-27.... I don't even want to think about it. Give Andy a look over at http://www.afterthewhistle.blogspot.com/ .
The Broncos battle Seattle tonight from Key Arena. A Broncos win would salvage the trip at 3-3 while a loss would push them to an unflattering 2-4.
The Broncos beat Seattle in a shootout 2-1 last season but in Swifty. The last time they played at the Key Arena was in December of 2004. Seattle won that night 3-0.
After tonight's game it's the long ride home. We should arrive sometime early Sunday evening if all goes as planned. Only a handful of players will complete the journey back home. The B.C. players plus Erik Felde will go their own way after tonight's game while the bus will make a stop in Calgary to drop-off several players.
As for me, it's a quick turnaround. I fly out of Saskatoon the next day for the Dominican - a trip a really haven't even thought of yet. I guess I'll have some time on the way home to get excited about it. For now, I'm hoping the Broncos leave everything on the ice tonight and pick up a win over the T-Birds to make that trip back to Swift much more enjoyable