Saturday, December 15, 2007

Portland Shows Some Life, Broncos Faulter

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

Jon

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jon,

A few comments: The ice last night was the worst it's been for a long time. There is a ice motorcycle race going to be run there so the ice is a lot thicker than it normally is. That being said, the coliseum ice is usually not all that great to begin with, the ice plant there is ancient and has trouble keeping the ice in good shape. One other small point, and the Hawks need all the credit they can get these days, but the score of the Spokane game was 7-1, not 7-0 as you indicated, not much of a difference but important to us die hard Portland fans anyway.

One final note: exactly how strong is the Eastern conference this year? Of Portland's 6 wins, one has come against each of Swift Current, Regina, Saskatoon and Medicine Hat. Hope you enjoyed your short trip to the Rose City.

owl said...

the ice was extra bad last night due to some cheesy ice motocross event going on saturday night. it was extra thick, i heard at least 3 inches thick and that doesnt make for a great ice surface for hockey.

thanks for the wonderful blog. i really enjoy reading it as often as i can. i stopped by and said hello between periods. hope you and the team have enjoyed your times in the states and may your travels for the remainder of your swing be safe!

Steve from Portland

Jon Keen said...

Thanks Steve, thanks for your nice words last night. Have Merry Christmas.

Jon Keen said...

I think the east is the strongest division or as strong as any in the WHL.

Regina, Brandon, Moose Jaw are all playing well. Prince Albert has our number this year too.

I've never seen Portland in the light of day. Only in and out both times pre-game and post-game. Too bad.