Sunday, September 30, 2007
With the score 5-1 after two periods favoring the Broncos, the game was over. The fans knew it and you could hear a pin drop in the routinely sold-out Arena of 4006. A couple more goals in the third made it a 7-2 win for the visitors.
It's been a long time coming.
The Tigers are no doubt going through a re-tooling phase but that doesn't mean they won't compete for playoff spot. Keep in mind that is their first regulation loss of this early season.
Personally, my play-by-play stint has also coincided with Tigers dominance. They won the Eastern Conference four years in a row and have outright blasted teams in their barn. Those days are over, at least for now.
I won't get into a game recap but there were a few things that caught our attention.
- Eric Doyle is looking more and more like former Bronco d-man Aaron Rome. His four point night was highlighted by a nice three-way passing play in which he finished off the play with a nice move on Tigers goaltender Ryan Holfeld. Doyle has six points in three games to lead the team in scoring. Last year's trade with Everett is starting to take form for the Broncos.
- Jan Dalecky scored his first ever in the WHL last night. Expect more from this 17 year-old Czech import.
- I am completely comfortable with Travis Yonkman in goal. He appears to have the same feeling. Relaxed, poised, in control of the play and has provided three solid starts to begin the season.
- Geordie Wudrick is off to a good start to the season. Three goals in three games. This is a big season for Geordie being his draft year. I'm happy to see him get off to a good start.
- Brady Leavold looks to be the odd man out of the present 20 year-old situation. Brady has been like a cat with this team. Are his nine lives up? He's been written off before... I'm not about to do that yet.
- Keegan Dansereau made his debut last night. He wasn't supposed to play but felt good enough following warm-up to get on the ice and give it a go. He wasn't credited with an assist on Geordie Wudrick's 2nd goal. He should have been. He also created a turn-over with a big hit behind the Tigers goal which allowed Matt Tassone to score an announced unassisted goal. Other than that you could tell his conditioning isn't quite where it should be yet.
- Erik Felde will be here tomorrow from Tri-City. Word is he's jacked to be coming here and wants to be apart of this team on the rise.
DEAN BREAKS DOWN THE DEALS....
Broncos Head Coach and G.M. Dean Chynoweth was openly candid about the trades and what prompted the moves during an interview we aired in the 1st intermission. He didn't hold back any info... I thought I would share his comments on here....
On dealing defenseman Paul Postma.... "Paul is a tremendous young man. These trades aren't easy. Everybody thinks you just pick up the phone, tell the kids and you walk off, that's not the case. You create bonds and ties with these individuals, you are with them through the course of the season. Paul I can honestly say is one of the nicest young men that I've had the opportunity to coach. I told him yesterday morning this had nothing to do with something he's done, it had to do with making this hockey club better and paying the price to do it."
On trading forward Kyle Bortis...... "Kyle's situation was considerably different. We want players who want to come in here and want to be here and be part of the solution, and Kyle wasn't. He requested a trade and his play dictated thay throughout training camp and the start of the season. So were able to turn that into a positive for our hockey club.
Both Paul and Kyle are going into a situation on a very, very good hockey team and they probably won't have to play in the situation that we expected them to here because (Calgary) has so much depth. There's a good chance it can be a win-win trade for both teams.
On what Erik Felde is expected to bring to the Broncos....."Erik is all speed and probably more. He is a dynamic skater and can really blow the doors off when he gets out there and wound up. He's not a real big guy but an extremely competitive player. He had a pretty good season last year coming out of junior "A" and has had a good start to the season this year. I was a little concerned on what his interest level would be coming to Swift Current as we did talk earlier this summer about that. It was interesting because he was very, very excited and it was a non-issue. He doesn't care where it is he wants to play. He wants to earn a contract or a try-out at the pro level and he's here to play hockey. I'm real excited about that part of it and it's going to solidify our top two lines, both him and Dansereau.
The key with Felde is he can quarterback the powerplay from the back-end and he has played defense. So losing Paul Postma who is a powerplay guy, Felde will roll right into that position.
On getting Keegan Dansereau from Calgary despite him being sent home by the Hitmen for breaking team rules.... "He's a very dynamic individual he has a great shot and great release. He's a guy maybe from their side who hasn't lived up to expectations and hype they had. Some of it has to do with probably commitment, not only on the ice but off it. I had a good long talk with him this morning about this being a fresh start. He's going to have a real good opportunity here to play in key situations to give him and the team success. I'm going to expect a lot on the other side of that.
The off-ice stuff, there's a lot of that which goes on around the league - stories that get told. That's one thing I'm not going to delve into and I never do with our hockey club. We deal with our stuff internally and that's how it has to be.
On the Broncos making a statement on being a legitimate WHL contender..... "I think it's definitely a sign we think we can compete in the Eastern Conference. I saw the deal between Vancouver and Regina and it kind of irked me a bit as it's a pretty good trade for them. I felt from our side that Regina is going to be one of the teams we will probably have to beat, probably in our division. We want to compete and try and win a division title first and foremost and set ourselves up for the playoffs. This just puts us more in line with trying to accomplish that with a legitimate top two lines."
It looks like a good trade for us right now, but the game is played on the ice. From here we still have to come together as a team and we have a long way to go. Im not real concerned where we are right now, I'm more concerned where we are at Christmas heading into the 2nd half.
On how the trade came together with the three teams involved.... " We have talked a lot about that group of '89 defenseman we have (four) and I'll be honest my intention was not to trade any of those guys this season unless something really knocked my socks off. Carrying 8 defenseman is not the way to go and I like the progress that 16 year-old Joel Rogers kid has made.
As for the timing of it, I've been working on the Felde deal from the summer. He was on the table from Tri-City, then off the table for a bit with his start to the season. The Dansereau deal I inquired about right away when he was sent home to get the details on it. We had some discussion then but (Calgary Hitmen G.M.) Kelly Kisio can be sometimes difficult to deal with at different times so we kind of just let that sit. It's just the regular trade process but one that took time to put together because we had the three-way trade as two separate deals.
We didn't want to do something back-door to Calgary as far as moving a player right through to a third team (Brett Plouffe). We don't want to have that reputation of doing that so we decided to bring everybody in on it and have everyone on side. All that knowing the deal may go sideways because Calgary was also dealing on Felde.
I think Dean really let everyone know the behind-the-scenes details of pulling off a trade and the work that goes into it. Maybe it's just me but I find that talk fascinating. Just some great candid answers before last night's game.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Calgary, AB – Calgary Hitmen General Manager and Head Coach Kelly Kisio announced today a four player trade with the Swift Current Broncos.
The Hitmen have acquired 19-year-old center Kyle Bortis and 18 year-old defenceman Paul Postma in exchange for 19 year-old right winger Keegan Dansereau and 18 year-old defenceman Brett Plouffe.
“We are very excited to add both Paul and Kyle to our line-up,” said Kisio. “Postma is a good, solid, puck moving defenceman who will help solidify our defence, while Bortis is a skilled forward who will provide both scoring and depth to our team.
Bortis is in his third WHL season and was the Broncos first round pick (16th overall) in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft. He had a break-out campaign in Swift Current last season scoring 18 goals.
Postma also had a strong 2006-07 season. The mobile rearguard possesses a great shot and was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers (7th round) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Keegan Dansereau will play tonight in Medicine Hat while Erik Felde will join the team Monday at practice, in time for the Broncos five game swing through Alberta and B.C.
I'm not sure where these trade leaks come from but I was made aware of a potential deal yesterday evening from a source in Calgary. You check the internet and the details are already half out there.
In this day and age of text messaging, blogs, and e-mail, this stuff spreads like a wildfire. Fans were just waiting for an official announcement as they have come to expect message board posts as a reliable source of information.
The Broncos weren't saying anything. They know the procedure when it comes to trades involving their players. Obviously the players have friends on other teams around the league and they share information back and forth.
Again, we will have the Broncos comments tonight in Medicine Hat... where I'm off to as we speak.
Friday, September 28, 2007
The Broncos have sent 19 year-old forward Kyle Bortis and 18 year-old defenseman Paul Postma to Calgary for 19 year-old forward Keegan Dansereau and 18 year-old defenseman Brett Plouffe. The Broncos then traded Plouffe to Tri City to acquire 20 year-old forward Erik Felde.
The Broncos offense has just received a major overhaul and in the process they solve a log jam on defense to get down to seven d-men. They also part with two former first round bantam picks. Bortis in (2003) and Postma (2004).
Here's the info on the two players they've acquired:
Weight: 185 pounds
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Shoots: Left Handed
Hockey Age: 20
Acquired: Listed Player, September 2005
Notes: Career Stats
Sea Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
06-07 Tri-City WHL 72 24 28 52 38
Born: Jan 1/88
WHL stats last season:
GP: 71, Goals: 28, Assists: 31, Pts: 59, PIMS: 64
Dean Chynoweth again is part of another major deal and these are not easy to pull off, especially a three way deal in this case. It's tough to watch a couple of good guys like Kyle and Paul go. Best of luck to both. I've enjoyed both of them over the years. Kyle was coming on our morning show as a 15 year-old after being drafted and winning the Telus Cup with the Saskatoon Contacts. I've seen him grow up over the years. Paul always had a smile and his parents John and Janet are one of the nicest families in hockey.
Not sure if Erik Felde and Dansereau will be in the line-up tonight in the 'Hat. Perhaps only Dansereau, we will wait and see.
This also now give the Broncos four 20 yr olds, one over the limit. They can however carry four until October 11th. So something will need to be done between Brady Leavold, R.J. Larochelle, and Mike Wilson.
I'll have all the details on the pre-game show along with Dean's comments tonight in Medicine Hat. 7pm pre-game, 7:30 play-by-play.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Broncos took their first loss of the season with a 4-1 lacklustre showing in Prince Albert. The Broncos had won 9 in a row against the Raiders in the regular season dating back to the 2005-2006 season.
Despite a sloppy 1st period on both sides, the Broncos opened the scoring on a Geordie Wudrick deflection past Dustin Butler. That's it, that's all.
Prince Albert picked up back-to-back powerplay goals in the 2nd period from Matt Robertson (5 on 3) and Ryan Macdonald. Ryan Depape added another PP goal midway through the third period before Macdonald scored into an empty net to cap the scoring.
All night long it appeared the Broncos were going after the pretty play or the difficult to make pass. It didn't work.
The Broncos are clearly the more skilled team but that doesn't help if you get out-worked for the last two periods. Prince Albert improves to 1-2 while the Broncos slide to an even 1-1 on the season.
They play in the 'Hat Saturday night as they continue with eight straight on the road to start the season.
Defenseman RJ Larochelle sat this one out with a leg injury. There's a good chance he will be ready for Saturday's clash with the Tigers. Three 16 year-olds were healthy scratches including forwards Cody Eakin, Brad Hoban, and defenseman Joel Rogers.
Not too much else to say... Levi Nelson had his gloves off for the 2nd straight game as he got into it with Justin Palazzo as the final buzzer sounded. He did much better this time. Brady Leavold added to his early league lead in penalty minutes with another major for fighting. He renewed acquaintances with Cody Vann. The two have fought before and will probably go again in the next game. Decision Leo although most of punches he fired glanced off Vann's helmet in the early stages of the scrap.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Today's media conference included words from all three parties and was hosted by Broncos Assistant General Manager and Director of Business Operations Elden Moberg.
The deal is a 10 year sponsorship agreement totalling $600,000. All the sponsorship dollars will be put back into the facilities capital expenditures to keep it updated and within league standards.
It appears to be a great marriage and kudos to the Broncos, the City and to Innovation Credit Union for hammering out the long term deal.
I'll post some comments later once I get back to work...
The Swift Current Broncos announced on Tuesday morning that they have reassigned 18-year-old forward Grant Toulmin to the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey league.
The Langley native appeared in 77 games with the Broncos over the past two seasons recording 3 goals and 2 assists.
The Broncos roster now sits at 24 players, (2 Goaltenders, 8 Defensemen, and 14 forwards).
Next action for the Broncos is this Wednesday night as they travel to Prince Albert to play the Raiders.
I've been told not to ruin the secret as the Broncos and the new naming sponsor are good friends of the radio station. Those who care to know do so already.
- Speaking of the Civic Center, it would be great to hear some positive news for once. Whenever I talk to anyone who has an inside edge on the renovations it's always bad news. This isn't close, that won't be ready, etc. Here we are 17 days away till the home opener, let's hope those involved can pull it all together. Because as the City has said in previous interviews "they have no back-up plan because they don't need one at this time." I've put the quote in my mp3 archives and it's standing by.
- The Western Hockey League, it's 22 teams and INSINC are working on getting both the home and visitor broadcasts available for all of the WHL webcasts. Since the webcasts have been running, only the home(r) announcers have been available. As is the case in every market, the home town fans want to hear their guy, especially the parents who appreciate the extra mile we all take to talk about our team and what's going on.
Personally I think it's good but it does come with a downside. I think it's good for fans to hear other broadcasts and other WHL radio other than their own home guys. I know Ryan and I love when we have new listeners tuning in from all over the WHL via the webcasts. We try to put on a good show for fans of both teams and do our best to try and talk about the visiting team and what's big in their circles too. We also do our best to make sure we have all the name pronunciations right, something which can be forgotten sometimes around the league.
Broncos and Raiders tomorrow night on the radio from Prince Albert, 7pm pre-game show, 7:30 play-by-play. I'll post a preview tomorrow.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I'm not sure I'm going to make it 72 games if all the endings are dramatic as the one Friday night. There may not be a more exciting finish for Bronco fans all season...although we still have 71 games ahead to try and top it.
A tying goal by Zack Smith with 1.2 seconds to play in the third period led to Matt Tassone's overtime winner giving the Broncos a 3-2 win at the Crushed Can. It was the first regular season win in Moose Jaw since the 05/06 season. The Broncos were 0/4 there last year.
It was a great ending to a game where the Broncos took over the last 40 minutes after Moose Jaw came out and played a strong first period putting them up a pair of goals.
I'm not going to get into the fights or point fingers or anything. Both teams are into the game and as a result those things happen. Just two teams going at it and no one worse for wear at the end of it. It's a long season, too long to start nit-picking the smaller details of the game.
I'm not sure on the status of R.J. Larochelle. He sustained a leg injury late in the 2nd period and did not return. He may or may not play this week, we'll see.
The Broncos head to Prince Albert to play the 0-2 Raiders Wednesday night.
It was quite the opening weekend in the WHL. Here's some of highlights and the low lights from what I've seen and heard.
- Kelowna blows a 5-2 lead late in the third period and loses to Tri City 6-5 in overtime.
- Regina opens the season with a 4-2 win in Prince Albert but lose 20 year-old import Kaspars Saulities for up to 2-3 months with a badly separated shoulder.
- Jusso Puustinen scored an unbelievable overtime winner in Kamloops to give the Blazers a 3-2 win over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. http://www.gdrinnan.blogspot.com/ . The goal is amazing. I've seen it on the archives and it is spectacular. Hey Seattle, look at the bright side, at least it didn't go to a shootout! Seattle was 0-11 in shootouts last season.
- Everett and Vancouver get into a nasty battle in the final minute of the game with the Giants up 5-2. Plenty of fights and penalties and nasty words exchanged.
- The expansion Edmonton Oil Kings sweep highly rated Kootenay in a home and home set including a 6-3 in Cranbrook Saturday night.
- Lethbridge rallies for a big come from behind win on opening night to beat the defending WHL champs in the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-3 in OT.
- The surprising Brandon Wheat Kings open the season with two dominating wins over the Saskatoon Blades including a 6-1 win Saturday at Saskatoon's Credit Union Center.
I won't even get into details about the Rider game Saturday vs B.C. I was not impressed with the Riders use of the clock when they had the ball and the lead late in the 4th. I counted six or seven occasions when the Riders broke the huddle with 18-20 seconds left on the playclock and then snapping the ball with 7-9 seconds remaining.
When you have the ball and the lead the clock is you're friend. So B.C. scores the winning TD with 35 seconds left. The Riders could have bled at least 1:30 more on the clock if they would have been using it properly. You do the math.
We may be a good football province but I'm surprised at how much we actually don't know the rules of the game. My section at the game (27) the last two Rider games has been filled with fans who don't know the rules. Of course they are always the loudest. Oh well, they had a good time for 59:30 of the game.
It wasn't a good football weekend for the Comp Colts either. The local high school team was bombed 42-0 by MJ Peacock. Looks like it's back to the drawing board.
Kudos to S.C. Minor Football for battling through terrible conditions this afternoon in Swifty. I officiated the 4:30pm bantam game and a driving rain and strong winds. The kids played through it and got a little dirty. That's football.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The pre-game show will have a feature on the Broncos leadership core as we introduce you to what new captain Zack Smith is all about and how he plans to lead the team.
The regular features will include a couple players plus both coaches. Ryan and I will also take some time to introduce the new rookies on this year's team. We will have a small breakdown on who they are what they're all about.
A couple opening night observations from Edmonton....
- Was it just me, or did the game seem a little slow? Granted it is opening night and both teams had to stand around for opening ceremonies which lasted quite awhile. Regardless, the Oil Kings couldn't have asked for a better ending. The winning goal with 1.2 seconds to play left the hometown fans with a smile on their face at the end of the game and that's all you can ask for.
- Former Broncos defenseman Karl Benke put his gear on long enough to be apart of the player introductions. The 19 year-old was a healthy scratch as the Oil Kings went with six defenseman.
- You have to feel for Paul Macdonald of the Kootenay Ice who tripped on the carpet when the Ice were coming out. Give him credit, he handled it well. A faceplant in front of 6700 people isn't the worst part. That will come from his teammates.... all season long.
- Who was that P.A. announcer?
- I love the Oilers goal horn... the Oil Kings have also adopted it. I just don't want to hear it October 8th when the Broncos play in Edmonton for the first time.
- Former Bronco Clayton Cumiskey made his WHL debut last night for the Oil Kings. The Broncos unwillingly left him unprotected in the expansion draft. He's a former bantam "AAA" teammate with Broncos Geordie Wudrick and Ian Curtis from their time in Abbotsford.
Should be plenty of Bronco fans tonight in Moose Jaw. This being the closest home game until October 12th has many fans making the 170km trek east. Let's hope the guys come out flying in the season opener.
See you tonight!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Blades Trade Ward/Cuthbert Reassigned
The Saskatoon Blades have sent 19 year old defenseman Brett Ward to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for the Warriors 4th round choice in the 2008 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.
Ward joined the Blades in the 2004-05 season and played in 129 games with Saskatoon where he recorded 5 goals and 22 assists.
The Blades have also announced that they have reassigned 19 year old forward Craig Cuthbert to a Junior A team to be determined. Cuthbert appeared in 31 games with the Blades last season recording 1 assist.
Today`s moves leave the Blades with 27 players on their roster.
The Blades open their season tomorrow night in Brandon and will kick off their regular season
Both Ward and Cuthbert played their minor hockey in the city and worked out together in the off-season.
The Blades continue to get younger in order to build their team for the future.
Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix thinks the Broncos will take a step backwards this season. Here's a sampling of his latest article:
"The Swift Current Broncos might be the biggest enigma in the division. They haven't scored more than 200 goals in a season since 2003-04 and they'll again be offensively challenged."
Wolfe's East Division prediction:
1. Regina Pats
2. Moose Jaw Warriors
3. Saskatoon Blades
4. Prince Albert Raiders
5. Swift Current Broncos
6. Brandon Wheat Kings
Fellow Star Phoenix sports columnist Doug McConachie holds out even less hope for the Broncos in his predictions.
McConachie's East Division prediction:
1. Regina Pats
2. Saskatoon Blades
3. Moose Jaw Warriors
4. Prince Albert Raiders
5. Brandon Wheat Kings
6. Swift Current Broncos
- Ryan Molle has returned to the team after an extended stay in New Jersey Devils camp. He returned while the Broncos were practicing yesterday afternoon. He's expected to be in the line-up tomorrow night in Moose Jaw.
- Interesting story out of Calgary today regarding Keegan Dansereau. The talented, yet un-motivated forward has been sent home by the Calgary Hitmen for disciplinary reasons. Hitmen G.M. Kelly Kisio appears as if he will trade the 19 year-old forward. At one point, Dansereau and local hockey product Andrew Bailey were heads and tails the best 1st year bantam players in Saskatchewan. Bailey, a former S.C. Kabos Raider now plays a prominent role with the Kootenay Ice. Dansereau was a dominant player for the Saskatoon bantam "AA" Barons.
- No word on who the Warriors plan to start in goal for Friday's season opener. With two 20 year-old goaltenders in Joey Perricone and Kurt Jory time is running out on them to make a decision. It would be un-wise to carry both but so far they've yet to make a move.
- Voice of the Rebels Cam Moon lays out the Central division for us tomorrow night during our broadcast in our 1st intermission. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same within the division. Mooner will have the breakdown.
The Swift Current Broncos have called a news conference for Tuesday at noon at Houston Pizza where it's expected they will unveil their corporate partner and new name for the Centennial Civic Center.
The deal is said to be worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - money which will go back into the Civic Center for future WHL mandated upgrades.
It sounds like a good deal, details will be laid out Tuesday.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The Swift Current Broncos announced on Wednesday morning that Zack Smith has been named the 2007/08 team captain.
Smith is entering his 3rd season with the Broncos and was one of the Assistant Captains last season. He has been in a Broncos uniform for 125 games and has shown great leadership abilities both on and off the ice during his tenure with the Broncos.
“I am very excited to accept the role of Captain and the responsibilities that come with it,” commented Smith. “It’s a real honour and surprise, to know that you’re looked up to as a leader especially with the team having such a strong core of leaders already.”
Dale Weise, R.J. LaRochelle, Paul Postma and Eric Doyle were named Assistant Captains for the upcoming season.
1. Calgary Hitmen
2. Regina Pats
3. Lethbridge Hurricanes
4. Kootenay Ice
5. Medicine Hat Tigers
6. Swift Current Broncos
7. Moose Jaw Warriors
8. Saskatoon Blades
9. Prince Albert Raiders
10. Red Deer Rebels
11. Brandon Wheat Kings
12. Edmonton Oil Kings
1. Vancouver Giants
2. Everett Silvertips
3. Kamloops Blazers
4. Seattle Thunderbirds
5. Spokane Chiefs
6. Chilliwack Bruins
7. Tri-City Americans
8. Kelowna Rockets
9. Portland Winter Hawks
10. Prince George Cougars
Thanks to Saskatoon Blades broadcaster Les Lazaruk for compiling the results.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
- I had a great talk with Ryan Molle's dad Bob today. The former Olympic wrestler and Winnipeg Blue Bomber is a smart man and has plenty of insight in the world of sports and what it takes to achieve your goals. His wads of experience can only be a huge benefit to Ryan's development. Bob will be a guest on an upcoming "Homegrown Heroes" 2nd intermission feature. It should be a good one! For more info on Bob check out his website, www.bobmolle.com
- The Broncos voted on their captain and assistant captains today. Head Coach and G.M Dean Chynoweth is expected to announce his letters before Friday's game. Safe to say the team knows by now and there shouldn't be many surprises. The only problem is there may not be enough letters to go around with the amount of 18,19 and 20's on the team.
- Had a good chat with 18 year-old defenseman Eric Doyle today. He is happy to hear Bronco fans are excited about this year's team. The guys hear it or read it and know there is some momentum building. He says it by far beats the alternative - a restless fan base who sometimes can be negative. They hear that too.
- Dean Chynoweth was quick to point out today they haven't accomplished anything yet. Just because people think they could be good doesn't mean anything, the guys still have to take it to the ice. I think it's a point he will be driving home in the next couple days.
- The Prince Albert Raiders obviously weren't set on their goaltending situation. They went out and acquired goaltender Dustin Butler from the Kamloops Blazers for a 6th round bantam draft choice. It likely means David Aime will be waiting in the wings....again.
- Speaking of Kamloops.... is there a better WHL blog than Gregg Drinnan's from the Kamloops Daily News? The WHL veteran reporter has so much information from around the league I find myself checking back three or four times daily. It's good, and worth a read: http://www.gdrinnan.blogspot.com/
- More WHL blogs are emerging as the season approaches. Add to the list Greg Harder's blog with Regina Pats coverage. Steve Ewen's blog based around the Vancouver Giants, Jeff Bromley covering the Kootenay Ice and of course my partner in the booth Ryan Switzer has seemingly checked himself back into the game. You can find his link down the page. I will be adding other links in the coming days. Here's another one: http://www.mikefraser29.blogspot.com/ . Mike works for the Brandon Sun and also scouts for the Broncos. He will also saddle up and provide color commentary on our broadcast when the Broncos make the long trek into Manitoba.
- The Western Hockey League's coverage is unprecedented. With every game available thru webcast, a new blog from a sports reporter turning up on every corner and SHAW TV's continuing coverage there is a boat load of info out there. Info in the past that has been really tough to come by. The fans win and the league wins too.
- It was bittersweet to be part of something big this morning. A power outage which originated in the U.S. Midwest carried into southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of North Dakota. The outage included my power, most of the city and 60% of the entire province. Sask Power is calling it the biggest provincial blackout since the 80's. My cellphone alarm clock set for 4:30am was not only my wake-up call but my source of light as I got ready for the day.
Finally, to rip-off Rob Vanstone of the Leaderpost, here's my rendition of "Nice Guys/Gals Who Deserve a Plug" Jim Macgee, Bob Molle, Dave Hunchak, Janet and John Postma, Geordie Wudrick, Kevin Krystmanson, Big Dave, Corey Adam, Brad Wall, and Chance from the Breakfast Boys.... that's a start.
The Calgary native appeared in 6 pre-season games with the Broncos recording 3 assists in that stretch.
With the move the Broncos roster now sits at 25 players including 15 forwards, 8 defenseman, and 2 goalies.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Four days.... and then finally all this chit-chat about predictions and prognostications can end, and the teams can start settling things on the ice.
Tonight I was on 800 CHAB's Warriors hockey talk show. I joined via telephone with voice of the Warriors James Gallo, colorman Darren Stein and Moose Jaw Times reporter Mathew Gourlie. We spent most of the time talking about how things will shake down in the east division when all is said and done.
It's funny, everyone always picks the other for tops in the division. It's simply the kiss of death to rate your team as a division favorite as a coach, G.M. or for that matter radio broadcaster. So, we simply don't.
A lot of other coaches and G.M.'s I've talked to may think they have the talent to win the division but they'll never come out and say it. In the words of Willy Desjardins of the Tigers..."walk softly and carry a big stick."
Regina remains the majority choice as the division favorite.... Regina doesn't think so, of course.
If there is one thing I've noticed is that Broncos stock is on the rise. Picked by many to be a 4th place east division team, many now have Swifty in the top 3, anywhere from 1st to 3rd.
This kind of talk is running rampant around the WHL. It's simply that time of year. Resistance is futile.
I have a new found respect for these young athletes... check that, elite athletes.
Chance and I, morning show co-hosts on the Eagle have recently taken on "The Breakfast Boys Boot Camp" at Swift Current's new Hockey Performance Center. It's a deal the radio station has come up with in an advertising campaign.
We went through an off-ice workout with instructor/trainer Regan Darby. Darby, a Swift Current native had WHL stops in Spokane, Tri-City, Red Deer and Prince Albert. He followed that with pro hockey in AHL, IHL, ECHL, and two seasons in Europe.
After our grueling, (and I mean grueling) legs, core and upperbody workout, it was off to the new "skate mill" for a few rounds. The skate-mill is a unique piece of equipment only found in Vancouver, Kelowna, Ontario, Zurich, Slovakia, and now Swift Current. You feel like you're skating on heavy ice as the treadmill sheet continues to churn away. Once you get the hang of it, you add a stick, pucks, shooting and passing.
Honestly, I was so gassed from Regan's workout I didn't have much left for the skating part of it. Chance looked like a 50 goal-man in the Sask Valley Senior League.
They video your skating and use it as a reference as to how to improve you're stride, balance and agility.
Do not kid yourself. Hockey players are in great shape and the best ones work extremely hard in the off-season to do what they do during the winter. Today's workout made me realize I don't work hard enough in the gym (even though I thought I did) and that it takes a lot of determination and effort to do what these guys do night in and night out.
The next workout at the Hockey Performance Center is set for Friday afternoon... sadly (I mean gratefully) I will be on the road to Moose Jaw. Chance, let me know how it goes. I'll stick to living vicariously through a bunch of 16 to 20 year olds.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
A four-goal first period put the Broncos ahead to stay as they took control and stayed there for 60 minutes.
Geordie Wudrick scored twice, he finishes the pre-season with five goals to lead the team. David Stieler, Jan Dalecky, and Grant Toulmin added singles. Dale Wiese had three assists in the win.
Goaltender Travis Yonkman had a fairly easy night making all 19 saves for the shutout. For Yonkman, the shutout capped a perfect pre-season. He did not allow a goal in his four exhibition games.
Offensively the Broncos looked good with 17 year-old European Jan Dalecky impressing me the most. In what was his first real game action after being hurt most of camp, Dalecky had a lot of people checking their programs to find out who this #27 is.
He looked like a complete forward with some offensive flair, his willingness to help out defensively and his strength on the puck. He's quick and quite frankly could be a top six forward on this team... and he's only 17.
Here's the scary part for the Broncos. Not one forward looked out of place last night and that was without the likes of Levi Nelson, Kyle Bortis, Brady Leavold, and Phil Gervais in the line-up. For me it appears rookies Justin Dowling, Cody Eakin, Mike Brown, Kris Foucault, and Brad Hoban can all play in this league. Something has to give. Is there a trade in the works? You tell me.
Our defense was equally impressive in the 5-0 win. Postma, Wilson, Larochelle, Rogers, McAvoy, and Doyle dressed. Ryan Molle is still in New Jersey Devils camp while Derek Claffey is nursing an injury.
The Broncos blueline is as mobile as it's been in my eight years watching this team. The 2001 -2002 team with Ian White, Ales Cerny, and Aaron Rome on the back-end would be the nearest comparison.
Make no mistake, the Pats were without defensemen Logan Pyett and Nick Ross and #1 goaltender Linden Rowat. Offensively, it was pretty much what you see is what you get with veterans Ofukany, Saulities, Eberle, McAngus, Jagow, Leffler, etc. all dressed. Kirt Hill and Mike Reich would be the only additions.
I'm excited about the potential of this hockey team. They can play and I think will be the surprise team of the league this season. Not much is known about the Broncos outside the city limits and around the WHL and maybe they can use that to their advantage.... and maybe I should be quiet and try and keep it that way.
A 2nd fan bus has been added for the Broncos season opener in Moose Jaw Friday. Call the Broncos office at 773-1509 to reserve your spot.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Tonight's broadcast will include an interview with WHL Commisioner Ron Robison on the new season upon us. We will also talk to Moose Jaw Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak to get a preview of next Friday's season opener. We will also be joined by Saskatoon Blades broadcaster Les Lazaruk who will give us an East division preview.
Join myself and Ryan Switzer for our first Broncos broadcast of the season on the Eagle 94.1 FM, online at www.scbroncos.com or channel 834 province-wide on SaskTel Max.
Both the Broncos and Pats are 3-2 in the pre-season in this rematch of last year's first round playoff series.
I'll have a game recap later...
Enjoy your Friday,
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
That's the mood around today's announcement from Indians Manager Harv Martinez that he's leaving the ball club after 20 successful seasons with the organization.
You can read the media release yourself:
(Swift Current, SK) Harv Martinez, the most successful head coach in the history of the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL), is leaving the Swift Current Indians Baseball Club effective immediately. Martinez, who was joined by a number of players and executive of the SC Indians, made the announcement today at the Boston Pizza lounge in Swift Current.
"I've been coaching here for 20 years and I feel that it is time for a change," said Martinez, who indicated that he has no immediate plans for the future. “ I believe that my decision today will initiate new changes within the Swift Current Indians Baseball Program and the beginning of a new era for the Tribe”.
In his twentieth and final season with the Tribe, Harv lead his team to a Central Division leading 25-11 regular season record. In the playoffs, Martinez and his team went on to defeat Regina and Melville to win the Eastern Conference for a third straight time while earning a birth in the championship series for the fifth consecutive season. It was in this year’s final that the stellar career came to an end just short of a WMBL “three peat” as they were defeated three games to one by the Okotoks Dawgs.
In Martinez’s 20-year reign as Head Coach of the SC Indians, the graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo CA., had a record of 487-250 and appeared in five straight WMBL Championship series winning in 2004 and 2005. That record of 487 wins makes him the most successful coach in WMBL history. Over the course of his career, Martinez has led the Indians to a total of nine league and four conference championships.
“I have really enjoyed these last twenty years and not just as a baseball coach but as a person who has had an opportunity to help these young players become better people and to grow and become contributing members of the community. We have had a lot of great young men, local, Canadian import and American import guys that have come through this program. Hopefully that tradition can continue after I’m gone”.
Martinez joined the Indians in 1987 as a summer employment opportunity following a year of teaching and helping out as an assistant coach at Modesto Junior College. He is currently the Principal at Waldeck School. Martinez and his wife Denise live in Swift Current year round.
A search for Martinez’s replacement will commence after the Board of Directors meets September 19th to discuss the direction of the Swift Current Indians Baseball Club.
Here's some of Harv's answers this afternoon... first on this surprising announcement:
"The timing is right. After an extended career you start to look back and reflect on the job that you do each year and reflect on all the components of being the Head Coach of a team of this magnitude. You just start to look back on those things and there comes a time. It's time for the organization to go in another direction. There is no ill feelings, any kind of situation that has occured, it's just the right time"
More on the timing of the announcement and his feelings regarding his resignation....
"It's the best decision for me at this time. As much as I'm sad at ending a 20 year relationship today, for the meantime and that's not to say that something in the future might not develop. It will be a change, not only for the organization but for myself."
On what he plans to do next summer....
"I don't know what I'm going to do with my time now I haven't quite figured that out. I will find my way to a fishing boat that might take up a little but of my time or maybe a golf club I haven't swung in a lot of years. I'm not looking to far into the future, I've just been pondering how I was going to deal with today."
After a 20 minute media Q and A with Martinez I left feeling very unsatisfied and that my questions weren't answered. Why now? What's the story behind this? Why isn't the President of the Board at today's meeting?
I got on the phone shortly after the meeting and found out the Indians four person Board of Directors are equally surprised and shocked after Martinez handed in his resignation last night at a meeting.
They didn't see it coming and they aren't aware of any situation that led to this announcement.
Upon further investigation, it just seems Martinez feels his time with the Indians has run it's course and he wants to leave now on good terms and with the ball club in a good situation.
I get the sense he feels like he's been at it long enough and wants to leave in a positive light in the community and I can respect that.
You have to respect the fact as well that he's an elementary school principal for 10 months of the year and then dedicates his entire summer to the Indians organization and has done this for 20 years. No fishing trips, Saturday golf tournaments, nothing. His vacation time is used running the Indians ball club and running it well.
So, with that said. It is what is... and the Indians organization will move on and try and find a replacement. Harv didn't rule out a return down the road and I think he will be back after a few seasons of being on the sidelines.
For now, his accomplishments speak for himself. He will always be Mr. Baseball in Swift Current.
Inside sources say it has something to do with the future of the ball club and more specifically Mr. Baseball himself Harv Martinez. With that said, I hope Harv will lead the Tribe for at least another season but something tells me that isn't today's news.
The news conference is set for 4pm at Boston Pizza.
There was another tour yesterday for officials and other guests. My invitation must have been lost in the mail? To be honest, the City hasn't said much about the project except there will be "an enclosed facilty with a sheet of ice for the home opener".
Monday, September 10, 2007
18 year-old defenseman Eric Doyle continues participation in the Traverse City, Michigan NHL Prospects tournament with the Dallas Stars on a free-agent basis.
18 year-old defenseman Paul Postma continues with the Atlanta Thrashers in the same tournament. Atlanta beat Tampa Bay 6-4 to advance to the 3rd place game. It's expected Postma will be returned to the Broncos following the Prospects Tourney.
18 year-old defenseman Ryan Molle from my understanding continues in New Jersey with the Devils although their is no info on rookies, prospects or how camp is going on their website. Apparently he did well in the fitness testing portion but that's all I know.
19 year-old forward Levi Nelson did not make the trip to Boston Bruins camp because of a knee injury. He continues with the Broncos and is practicing.
How good can the Broncos be this season? Last year I predicted 35 wins, they picked up 33. This season I'm upping the ante to 42 wins and a top four showing in the Eastern Conference. Bold? Yes. Accurate? Time will tell.
If the prediction holds true, it would be the first 40 win season since 2001-02. That season the Broncos went 42-17-6-7 and finished 2nd in the Central division behind Red Deer. Nowadays teams win more games because ties have been eliminated - there is a winner in every game. So 42+ wins is no doubt a possibility. A 40 win season would also be only the 2nd of Dean Chynoweth's coaching career. He won 44 games in the 2002-03 season with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Leave a comment at the bottom. How many wins is the 2007-08 edition of the Broncos in store for? It will be fun to look back at the end of the regular season.
I'm thinking my ranking of this team will be the highest amongst WHL broadcasters when we conduct our annual poll in the next week. I'm expecting the broadcasting brotherhood to put the Broncos somewhere in the middle of the east division and 7th or 8th in the Conference. Prove me wrong guys, prove me wrong.
I haven't given much thought to my standings prediction. I'm thinking Regina and Moose Jaw will be solid teams, so will Kootenay and Calgary, Lethbridge could be explosive but has some inexperience on the blueline. Out west, I like Kamloops, and Vancouver, Seattle and Everett (if the Tips get some key players back from NHL teams)
No news out of Broncos camp regarding roster moves. I'm expecting the team to start the season with 26 players. They may get down to 25 or even 24 before opening night in Moose Jaw but we'll wait and see.
Myself, Ryan and the behind the scenes crew at the Eagle 94.1 FM are working hard so we can host our first broadcast this Friday night in Kindersley when the Broncos take on the Regina Pats. I'm not so confident everything will be in place from a broadcast standpoint but I've been told not to worry, the broadcast is a go. Personally, I have a lot of work to do in the coming days and weeks for game night features such as "The Five Minute Major" and "Homegrown Heroes" Bronco parents, this is your warning. Expect a phone call in the coming weeks! Last year the parents were fantastic when asked about questions about their young son growing up with the game.
An interesting note on Regan Bartel's Kelowna Rockets blog today:
"It's the first of it's kind in the WHL, and the Kelowna Rockets organization is leading the way. The Rockets are going green by no longer offering game programs at home games. Instead fans can now obtain them on-line on the Rockets new website.
The hockey club is encouraging fans to print them off at home and bring them to the game. The saving on printing costs and paper is significant. Program sales league wide have plummeted over the years, and the same holds true in Kelowna.
The environmentally friendly move may take some getting used too, but hockey fans attending games this season will still be able to get a lineup for both teams at the rink."
The Broncos have no plans to change in this regard to my knowledge. That may be a couple seasons (at least) down the road.
How many wins this season? Take a shot!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
The Wheaties led 2-0 after one on a powerplay goal and a shorthanded marker. The Broncos tied it thanks to 2nd period goals from Spencer McAvoy and Geordie Wudrick. Brandon took the lead back with a pair of goals in the third. Cody Eakin scored his 2nd goal in as many nights to draw the Broncos within one with two minutes to play.
The Broncos couldn't find the tying goal and took the 4-3 loss. Ian Curtis played the entire game in goal and apparently played well. The Wheaties out shot the Broncos 24-21.
The Broncos were short defenseman tonight which forced Brady Leavold, Grant Toulmin, Phil Gervais, Matt Tassone, Kyle Bortis and Geordie Wudrick all to play a period on the back-end. With Paul Postma, Eric Doyle and Ryan Molle all attending NHL camps and Derek Claffey not dressed, the Broncos were forced to improvise.
The Broncos return home tonight and will have a full week of practice before taking on the Regina Pats Friday night in Kindersley.
- The Broncos played hard and were tenacious, out shooting and out chancing the Warriors by a large margin. It was exciting to see that kind of effort on the road.
- Dale Wiese looked great in his first pre-season game after sitting out the pre-season tournament. He scored twice and had numerous other chances. He absolutely blew-up Moose Jaw Euro Martin Filo in a mid-ice hit.
- 16 year-old rookie Cody Eakin and 17 year-old Justin Dowling showed flashes of brilliance. Eakin shelved a snap shot over Kurt Jory for the Broncos 3rd goal. A quick release and heavy shot rang the back crossbar over Jory's glove. Get excited about this youngster Bronco fans.
Dowling had some opportunities but couldn't finish. He danced in and out of traffic with confidence and looked like a veteran.
- Spencer McAcoy looked like a seasoned blue liner. The forward turned defenseman played well in his own zone and was tough to beat one-on-one. He looks like he'll be fine back there.
- Geordie Wudrick finished the night with one assist on a nice set-up on Dale Wiese's 2nd goal of the night.
- Great half a game for goaltender Travis Yonkman. In 30 minutes of action he made all 17 saves and was on top of his game. He made it look easy and relaxed. That's when he's at his best. Rebounds neatly tucked away, he knew where the puck was after it hit him and was out challenging shooters. Nice performance. It looks like he's ready to be the #1 man after waiting in the wings for two seasons.
- Ian Curtis looked good but only had to face six shots. One back-hand got through his five-hole off the rush courtesy Brad Reige. Limited action for Curtis though who was pretty much a spectator for his half a game.
- 16 year-old defenseman Joel Rogers can play. Expect him to stick. He made some smart plays in his own zone and isn't afraid to wheel the puck out of his own zone. He will be a nice addition.
As for the Warriors I was unimpressed. They put forth a lacklustre effort and looked lost at times - something Head Coach Dave Hunchak agreed with post-game in a make shift media scrum outside his office. Hunchak says they spent the week learning new systems all over the ice and it may have been too much to comprehend in just a week.
-Only 16 year-old Justin Maylan stood out on the Warriors side. Last year's first rounder had the most opportunities but failed to capitalize.
-I also didn't see anything out of Moose Jaw's two European players to write home about. Forward Martin Filo looked slow and choppy. I didn't even notice Tomas Karpov. Moose Jaw has a lot of talented forwards and will have a log jam to start the season. I just can't see these two being impact guys. Why not give another western Canadian player a shot instead of flying over a Slovak and a Czech to simply blend into the scenery? As it stands both Swift Current and Moose Jaw don't get the high end Euros like a Calgary or Vancouver. I'm sure the Broncos or Warriors feelings wouldn't be hurt if the import rule was dropped to one player instead of two. That's not my fight and I'll leave it at that. Hockey Canada and the CHL continue to talk about the European import situation. We'll see if there is any movement on the rules in the coming years.
-Moose Jaw is also going to need a veteran defenseman they can lean on. Apparently GM Chad Lang is out west trying to land one. Their blueline as it stands is just too young and inexperienced. In a couple years it will be a strong group but for the time being they need to get one or two veterans back there.
The Broncos are in Brandon tonight, I'll have a small recap post-game from the information I gather from the coaching staff.
Moose Jaw's lone goal came from Brad Reige with 8:40 to play in the third to end the combined shutout big of Travis Yonkman and Ian Curtis.
The Broncos had a big edge in play and outshot the Warriors 34-23. The Broncos looked good, the Warriors didn't.
I'll have more thoughts on the game tomorrow...
Friday, September 07, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The 40 of us rented a bus to and from Mosiac Stadium. It was nuts. That's me in the yellow bus driver vest. He let me "borrow" it.
Sheldon Paulhas, Switzer and the Great Gazoo - also from Swifty. Great Rider Pride guys.
Earlier in th day Switzer and company put their game-faces on complete with Rider tatoos
B'day boy in his Ray Mysterio jr. mask. Pick a day Kevvy...
Our view of the action from Section 27
My new favorite game... Friss-knock
Riders win, we're all on the wagon.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
They made a pair of moves following the pre-season tournament.
16 year old goaltender Chad Ketting was reassigned. He will likely be joining the Northwest Giants of the BC Major Midget Hockey League.
15 year old Christian Magnus was reassigned to the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League.
That reduces the roster to 26 players (2 goaltenders, 8 defensemen, and 16 forwards).
Here's a look at the current roster.
Kyle Bortis (19)
Mike Brown (17)
Jan Dalecky (17)
Justin Dowling (17)
Cody Eakin (16)
Kris Foucault (17)
Phil Gervais (17)
Brad Hoban (16)
Brady Leavold (20)
Levi Nelson (19)
Zack Smith (19)
David Stieler (19)
Matt Tassone (18)
Grant Toulmin (18)
Dale Wiese (19)
Geordie Wudrick (17)
Derek Claffey (18)
Eric Doyle (18)
R.J. Larochelle (20)
Spencer McAvoy (19)
Ryan Molle (18)
Paul Postma (18)
Joel Rogers (16)
Michael Wilson (20)
Ian Curtis (17)
Travis Yonkman (19)
Monday, September 03, 2007
Bronco goal scorers included Phil Gervais in the 1st, Christian Magnus in the 2nd and an insurance marker from Derek Claffey in the third.
It was a feisty game with a trio of fights involving Ryan Molle, Grant Toulmin, and Matt Tassone. Sounds like Tassone had a pretty gritty weekend.
Travis Yonkman got the start in goal and played 30 minutes of shutout hockey before Ian Curtis took over. Curtis allowed a goal on a Kamloops powerplay in the third as his only blemish.
Sounds like the coaching staff was pleased with the boys this weekend - saying they played a solid 8 of 9 periods. Only one period against Prince George kept them from a 3-0 weekend. Even though wins and losses aren't the focus for the Broncos right now (player evaluation is) a few wins should help them build some confidence as the regular season approaches.
Christian Magnus had a good tournament and by all accounts lived up to his billing as a 1st round bantam pick from this past summer.
The Broncos return late tonight and have a full week of practice before two exhibition games this upcoming weekend.