Saturday, December 29, 2007

More Bad News....

Broncos Head Coach/GM Dean Chynoweth confirmed in the pre-game show tonight that Ryan Molle has a broken knee cap after blocking a shot last night. He's out 8-10 weeks.

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.....


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Broncos Back At 'er

It was a rare evening practice for the Broncos last night as they made a fresh return of the Christmas break; many sporting a new look with the hair. Several of the guys have got rid of the " flow " and have gone for the more conservative look. A fresh start and a new outlook has to be on many of the players minds after a 18-14-0-5 and a 8th place spot in the Conference.

A lot of the guys looked good and had a smile and that was a nice change after a tough two games to conclude the U.S. swing in Portland and Seattle.

"It's never good losing to the worst team in the league (Portland), and we were embarrassed by Seattle the next night and that's still in the back of our heads. It's up to us to prove it to Dean (Chynoweth) and Tim that we're better than that," commented Eric Doyle as he rode the bike following practice in the makeshift weight room.

Spencer McAvoy weighed in on the situation. 'Macker is a great interview and puts his thoughts together well.

" There's not a lot of points separating 8th from 1st but we want to come out and have to start winning here, play every game like its the playoffs. It's broken up into three seasons, this is the 2nd part with playoffs being the third and this has to be our biggest half going into the playoffs. We have to want to win here...."

Broncos 2nd round draft choice from 2006 defenseman James Martin is up with the club for the weekend. He will take a spot on the blueline that is healthy with the exception of RJ Larochelle is out for an indefinite period of time.

Assistant Coach Tim Kehler fresh off a North Van Christmas ran practice with Dean Chynoweth away scouting at the Macs "AAA" midget tournament in Calgary. Kehler will lead practice again this morning before Dean returns behind the bench for tomorrow night's game against Medicine Hat.

The main thing I got from a little trip down to the rink was this team has the right mindset going into the 2nd half but will still have to back it up with their play on the ice. Goal production has been down over the last 15 games or so and have been a lot harder to come by. A clean slate for some of the top guys on this team maybe what's needed.


It was quite the day across the league as players and team personnel scrambled through airports across Western Canada to get back to their WHL club.

I shared a flight from Edmonton to Saskatoon with Raiders overage defenseman Jeff May and a Saskatoon Blade who I didn't recognize. In the airport, Raiders marketing director Bruce Vance was picking up goaltender Steven Sanford and forward Mike Small. I walked right past veteran Brandon Wheat King Theran Yeo who was ready to board the plane I just arrived on - the next stop was on to Winnipeg. Yeo is tough to miss. If you've seen him off the ice you know what I mean.

I had a chance to tour around the I-plex having not been inside since the beginning of December. The new visitor dressing room area will be roomy and nice. Although not completed, the WHL visitors will have a nice set-up in the future. The new space is located underneath the new wrap-around seating and luxury boxes.

If construction crews were shooting to be done after Christmas they missed the mark. There appears to be plenty of finishing work still to be done. It looks to be still a month or so from being completely finished. That's just a guess....


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'm in the middle of a seven hour wait between flights as I sit in Edmonton on my way home from vacation in the Dominican with family.

There's some hockey talk below. If you care or not here's some pics I snapped near the 19th latitude....

This is the way to spent the WHL break. One of the nice beaches at the resort located on the North coast near Puerto Plata.

Completely crazy local Dominicans. Here a group of kids are entertaining the tourist with some waterfall cliff diving. It was pretty amazing stuff.

Our resort the Bahia Principie. The food was great, everybody was super friendly. It's a four star resort and I would definitely recommend it. Wow.

Me and my sister Nancy hanging out on one of the excursions into some of the small towns and villages.

Swift Current Indians latest prospect. I was trying to so some recruiting for my buddy Joe Carnahan and the Tribe. just looks like a ball player doesn't he? 20000 pesos and a one-way ticket was the asking price. Darlin tells me he can play left field and pitch too. Give him a call Joey! As much as I tried, he wouldn't sell me his hat.

Here's a cave we found when we rented some powerboats and got after it on the Atlantic.

My diva of a niece Tianna. The little four year old packs a wallop. She never shys away from a camera. Ever.

One of the local kids we were giving treats to on our excursion. Look at the great forum he shows while running alongside our jeep at 40 km/h. Nice catch.

It was a good time but it's nice to be back on Canadian soil. You meet people from all over the world at a resort like that. It's funny, as soon as you tell them you're from Saskatchewan automatically their reaction is "oh the Roughriders!" It's our province's identity no doubt. A few Canadians knew of Swift Current for similar reasons. There first words were "oh yes, the Swift Current Broncos". All the more reason why this team and franchise means so much to us.

Honestly I didn't think of hockey, or the broadcasts of anything while I was down there. It was nice to get completely removed for awhile. I'm hoping the players and the staff did the same thing over the break.

The Broncos get back at it Friday night at home against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers to begin a weekend home-and-home series. Last year the Broncos used the first weekend back from the break to play some of their best hockey. We will see what they have in store this year as they look to turn the tides after limping into the break.

A couple of injuries has me concerned. Cody Eakin didn't play a game on the swing because of a concussion. He should be good to go barring any setbacks over the holidays. Another injury was R.J Larochelle who took a shoulder to the face in the final game against Seattle. Not sure on his status.... I hope he's ok but I don't have a good feeling on this one. He's had some problems in the past. We will hopefully get an update on Friday's broadcast.

The Broncos play the Tigers for the third time this season. The Broncos have won both previous meetings 7-2 in the 'Hat in September and 3-0 at the I-plex in October. The Tigers finished off strong into the break and aren't missing any of their top players due to World Juniors. How did Tyler Ennis not even get an invite to the selection camp? He's a clutch performer and big game player. He would have been this year's version of Darren Helm.

Well that killed about half an hour. It's back to my least favorite game... the airport sit n' wait.

Take care, see you all back at the rink Friday.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Broncos Hit the Break 8th in East

This will be my last Broncos post for awhile. After a long trip out west where the team went 2-4, the boys have headed in their separate directions for the next 10 days to enjoy the Christmas break.

No doubt the Broncos limped into the break with losses in Portland and Seattle. Seattle's loss was a bit more disturbing than the Portland one just strictly based on the effort as a team and some poor individual play that resonated through in an 8-3 loss to the T-Birds.

Does this team have worked to do? In one word, plenty. It won't happen overnight, this team has to start from the ground up and get back to the basics like effort, teamwork and chemistry.

The recent struggles have the Broncos in 8th place, but only 8 points out of the Conference lead which is still attainable if this team plays up to it's capability. Simply put, this team needs to go on a 2nd half run. Three wins in a row was the longest first half streak. That won't cut it when most teams seemingly are getting points every night. Moose Jaw for example hits the break with points in 12 straight games.

The 2nd half will be a good challenge for the coaching staff to get the most out of this group night in and night out entering the playoffs. This team has yet to peak and hopefully can start playing their best hockey when it counts.

The good news may lie in the remaining schedule. Having only played 15 road games in the first half and 22 on the road, the Broncos can use the 2nd half to get comfortable at home and start building something. Only the Red Deer Rebels played more games on the road (24) in the first half.

I'm off with family for seven days to Puerto Plata where hockey will be the furthest thing from my mind. I hope the coaches and players have a nice break where they can clear their minds for awhile and come back strong and focused for the 2nd half.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


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 .

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


Friday, December 14, 2007

On the Way to Portland

As I put this post together the Broncos are en route to Portland to take on the Winter Hawks tonight from Memorial Coliseum.

A game preview is posted below.

The Broncos spent the day off in rainy Seattle yesterday as the boys practiced in Everett before making the half hour trip of the freeway to the Emerald City. Practice was light but up-tempo. Deano let me wheel around a little on the ice with the guys. It was a good experience to see the speed at ice level. It’s not the first time I’ve done this but it’s a good refresher as to how fast the game is played. A lot of us think it looks easy from the media box. This gives you a different perspective and a better feel for how skilled these guys are.

We did the showdown at the end of practice. I swear I use to have some moves… now I have nothing, and I mean nothing. I was 0 for 9 or 10 on Yonks and Curtis. At one point Yonks was saying “Five-hole. Five-hole” as I skated down as to let me know what he was giving me…. It didn’t help. Regardless it was fun and I hope I provided some comedy for the guys.

The team bussed into Seattle where the team had some free time. We headed down to the famous Pike’s Market for a look around. It’s the world’s 2nd largest working marker so I’m told. Lots of fresh fish, crab, handcrafts, everything. It’s pretty interesting.

The highlight for me may have been getting a coffee at the first ever Starbucks. Established in 1971, the chain has grown to over 15,000 outlets by now. Seattle is well known for it’s coffee and little coffee shops along the way. It’s part of the culture in this city, kind of like the rain.

Seattle is also one of the most wired wi-fi cities in North American. Virtually everywhere you go has wireless Internet. Enough of Seattle 101 though, the Broncos play Portland tonight in their first and only meeting of the season.

The Broncos play their fifth game of the six game swing tonight. The Broncos haven’t won in Portland since February 12th, 2000. That night the Broncos blanked the Hawks 5-0.

The Broncos have won the last three of four head to head contests. Most recently last season at the Civic Center where the Broncos blanked them 3-0 November 22nd. It was Travis Yonkman’s 2nd career shutout. He will get the start tonight in goal.

The last time Swifty played in Portland it was ugly. The Hawks won 4-0 back in 2004. Kyle Moir was brilliant in goal to keep the score at only 4-0. He made 49 saves in the loss as the Broncos were outshot 53-14. That was a bad game. How come you always remember the bad games like they were yesterday?

Portland enters the game with an eight game losing skid. They lost in Spokane Wednesday 7-1 in their last outing. Following tonight’s game they will play a home and home set with Everett to conclude the first half.

Their last win came November 20th against Chilliwack. Goaltender Kurtis Mucha made a remarkable 65 saves in a 4-3 win over the Bruins.

Their team looks substanably different after two major deals last month with both Lethbridge and Moose Jaw. The Hawks went out and picked up Travis Bobbee, Ryan Kerr, Nick Dietrich and Jacob Dietrich from Lethbridge. They also scooped up Travis Erhardt, Keith Voytechek, and Jason Grecica from Moose Jaw.

The Hawks shouldn’t be taken lightly despite their league worst record of 5-26-0-1. They are 2-1 against east division teams this season including a win over Regina 4-3. Plus the Broncos are dealing with some bumps and bruises, injuries, and a little sickness. Let’s hope they can put it together for tonight’s contest.

The good news is they’ve played well on this trip despite a 2-2 record in the first four outings. We’re on the air at 9pm with the pre-game show, 9:30pm with the play-by-play.

The people’s Premier Brad Wall will be our guest tonight in the pre-game show. The big sports fan has had quite the opening month as Premier of Saskatchewan. He hosted one kick-ass Grey Cup party on the Legislature grounds. He keeps tabs on the Broncos and routinely brings them up during opening member statements…. Usually after wins against Regina and Moose Jaw. He has to walk the line a bit more now. I’ll ask him about that.

Look for a recap later; I’ll try my best to piece something together on the bus ride home.

Here's some pics from the Thursday day off...

Moving in to another hotel. Paul Ayotte steers the trolley

Spencer McAvoy, Dale Wiese, Geordie Wudrick, Ian Curtis all catch a break unloading the gear in Seattle.

The day starts with practice in Everett. Afterwards the guys load up for the trip to Seattle.

Key Arena in Seattle. The basketball court is out but the ice remains under the plywood floor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Broncos Down 'Tips, Now 2-2 On Road Trip

First the meat and potatoes......

Another pretty solid effort on the road for the Broncos, however this time they would be rewarded in a 3-1 win over the Everett Silvertips.

The Broncos played a complete game and limited Everett's opportunities to post their 2nd win on the trip with Portland and Seattle to come on the weekend.

Jan Dalecky scored on the powerplay in the final minute of the first period to open the scoring. Vitali Karamnov tied it when his initial chance was stopped by Ian Curtis and the rebound went off Levi Nelson and over the line to tie it 1-1 after two.

The Broncos and the Silvertips both had chances to take the lead in the third until Erik Felde took a nice centering pass from Zack Smith at the end of a good shift to give the Broncos the lead midway through. A Zack Smith empty-netter in the final seconds would seal it. Broncos win 3-1 and have never lost at the Everett Events Center.

Now to the rest....

- Kyle Beach was ineffective all night long and never really got his game going. Either he wasn't on his game or the Broncos didn't buy into it. He did find R.J. Larochelle in the dying seconds after the Broncos empty net goal. He's probably wishing he didn't though. R.J. landed a big one early that nearly dropped Beach. He then wrestled Beach down and landed a couple more are on the ice before the linesman could step in. I interviewed Kyle for our pre-game show. Despite all the stuff you hear, he's a well-spoken, polite 17 year-old who is a man already. He will be a Top 10 NHL pick, bank on it.

- What was up with the Everett on-ice goal celebration? After Vitali Karamnov's goal that banked in of Levi Nelson, Karamnov and his line skated to neutral ice and proceeded to do a Ukrainian looking dance with his linemates arm-in-arm. That stuff doesn't fly and has no place in hockey. At least act like you've scored before. I saw some of the veteran 'Tips players like Dane Crowley wanting no part of that celebration. I thought it was a bit over the top.

- Eric Doyle played well in his return to Everett. He was solid in both ends and chipped in an assist on the Broncos powerplay goal. Speaking of special teams, the Broncos PK is a perfect 19/19 on this road trip.

- What a circus with the Ice maintenance crew. Two guys (who looked like they just jumped out of the stands) tried to fix a broken stanchion in the glass on three separate occasions. Finally they just duct taped it together after it broke for the third time just seconds into the third period. I laughed on-air when the one fella bolted onto the ice from the zamboni gate and caught the fresh ice and fell on his back-side pretty hard. These guys were getting the boos and thumbs down from the home crowd. What a comedy of errors!

- Nice to meet Voice of the Silvertips Jon Rosen prior to face-off. The 1st year WHL broadcaster was accommodating (as was the entire Tips game staff) all night long. He even told me he checks up on the blog now and then. Thanks Jon, we'll see you next year back at the I-plex. Nice guy.

- Everett Head Coach Jon Becanic was a good person to talk to pre-game. The well spoken bench boss provided some good insight around the Silvertips and why they may not be the most liked team in the U.S. division. He says they are kind of like the New York Yankees of the WHL....

Game night pics.....

Broadcast booth view

Seven minutes away 'till face-off

The "Bud Blaster" during intermission shares the ice with the zamboni

Cue the circus music..... maintenance staff tries to fix the same problem for the third time.

Post-game meal at Old Spaghetti Factory. Levi Nelson on the left with Mike Brown on the right

Matt Tassone kills some time between dishes with a little coloring. Nice Tazzer, that's some good

The Broncos play in Portland Friday night in their next action. They will practice tomorrow before heading into Seattle for a day off. The plan is to take the team downtown, to Pike's Market and around the waterfront.

Good night,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Silvertips/Broncos Gameday Pics

With face-off in a few hours away from the Everett Events Center, here's a few pics from the day so far...

There's always a former Bronco element when these teams play. This year that element is Dane Crowley. Crowley gets his stick ready for tonight's game. He will be our guest on the pre-game show tonight. He had some interesting things to say about life in Everett as compared to Swifty. Listen tonight to find out more. Plus, Kyle Beach, the most talked about player in this league sits down for a one-on-one.

The Broncos wait for the zamboni to finish up before practice.

Rookie goaltender Ian Curtis awaits the practice ice. He will more than likely get the call in goal tonight for the Broncos to give Travis Yonkman a night off.

Deano works the chalkboard while the players and Assistant Coach Tim Kehler wheel around a little.

It must be gamenight at the EEC. The Bud Light beer truck pulls in beside the Bronco bus to deliver it's payload. Everett fans consume a lot of suds. Im told beer sales are tops in Everett of the 22 teams in the WHL.

More pics later,


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Broncos Spend the Day In and Around Everett

A day off in Everett, Washington.

The Broncos had the complete day off from on-ice activities - the first time they've avoided the ice all together on the trip.

Tomorrow night the Broncos roll into the EEC to battle the Silvertips. The 'Tips will be tough. They're known as one of the hardest working teams in the 'dub but no doubt look a little different than last year's potent roster.

Adding to the list of missing players will be Zach Hamill and goaltender Leland Irving who are attending the World Junior Evaluation camp in Calgary.

Today, former Bronco Dane Crowley met up with some of his former teammates at our hotel. I spoke with Dane for a few minutes about how the season is going and he says they have a hard working bunch minus some of the big names they had from last year. He still is one of my favorite guys to come through the Broncos in my time. Dane will be a guest on tomorrow night's pre-game show along with Kyle Beach if I can track him down pre-game. Former Silvertip Eric Doyle will also share his thoughts on the big game against his former teammates.

"Crow" is a big part of the Tips this season and is being looked upon for leadership with some of the departed players including his friend Brennan Sonne who was moved to Red Deer for Clayton Bauer in a swap of over-age forwards.

This will only be the 2nd meeting all-time between the Broncos and the Tips in Everett. The Broncos won the first meeting back in 2004 2-0. The Broncos are 2-1 against the Tips all-time. Everett dominated last year's contest to the tune of 6-0. They were impressive.

Everett is easily the most hated team in the U.S. division. In Spokane and Tri-City both the fans and team personnel reminded us to "make sure you beat Everett".

Why are they hated? It's simple. It's the big three if you will. Former Coach Kevin Constantine and his actions, Kyle Beach, and their in your face fans. The U.S. division teams and their followers have seen their fair share of antics and it's rubbed them the wrong way.

I'm indifferent when it comes to them. They sure put on a display of work and skill in Swifty last year and former Coach Kevin Constantine is one of the most intelligent coaches to to talk to. Kyle Beach? Seems like a helluva hockey player to me.

We're on the air at 8:30pm Saskie time with the pre-game show, 9pm play-by-play.


As for the guys today (Tuesday) they had a pretty relaxing day. Most of the day was spent at this huge outlet mall. Most did some Christmas shopping while others just caroused around.

Supper was at a nice Italian restaurant in Lynnwood followed by a movie. "No Country for Old Men" was the choice of the night. It got mostly thumbs down from the crew while a few enjoyed it. I thought it was ok. It was one of those flicks that made you think I guess... no brainless comedy which is usually the choice on the bus.

The team will practice in the morning in preparation for the fourth game of the road trip. Don't look now but the Broncos have slipped to 8th in the conference after wins from Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat tonight. Only seven points separates 1st from 8th in the Conference. A far cry from the 19 points separating 1st to 8th in the West. Like I've said before, eight really good teams are going to make the playoffs in the east. Round one will be an absolute war. There will be no favorites. Quite the 2nd half is shaping up.


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.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Day Four, Day Off

I left the camera in the hotel room yesterday so no pics from day four. I'll bust it out later today and tonight for the Broncos game in Tri-Cities against the Ams.

The boys went through a light practice in the morning and then had some time to their self until a team supper in the evening. Some checked out the malls, others have family in town as the team makes a two night pit stop in Spokane, Washington.

Days off on the road are rare so you get a good chance to do some exploring and shopping if you so choose. I was down at the mall walking around Macey's and Nordstrom with a couple of team personnel. A quick stop into the Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch to pick up some Christmas gifts and than over to the local Steelhead pub to watch some NFL football. Not a bad day off.

The guys all came back with stories of what they did, where they went and what the saw. Perhaps the most interesting story of the day belonged to Geordie Wudrick. He witnessed a wedding disaster in the hotel lobby as he described it. Geordie told me the bride and groom got into a big spat and were swearing and yelling outside the ballroom. Then the parents from both sides got involved in some finger pointing and yelling. Apparently police were called and an arrest was made but we couldn't confirm that. Quite the scene according to a couple of the guys. It was a classic example of "When Weddings Go Wrong". Im sure they have many years of wedding bliss ahead.

The team will pack up and depart Spokane this afternoon and make the two to three hour trek to Kennewick for tonight's game against the Ams. Apparently the roads aren't that great after some heavy snowfall yesterday. We will be leaving a little earlier than usual just to be safe.

We're on the air at 8:30pm with the Big Show. Our guests will include Everett Silvertips General Manager Doug Soetart as he talks about Wednesday's meeting between the Broncos and 'Tips. We will also talk to Bronco over-ager Erik Felde as he makes his return to Tri-Cities to battle his former team. I know he's excited.

That's all for now. I'll have more pics and news later today.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Day Three, Chiefs Down Broncos 3-1

Two goals just 29 seconds apart in the 2nd period led to a Spokane 3-1 win over the visiting Broncos. Mike Reddington's first of the year sent the teddy bears on the ice 3:20 into the 2nd period. Judd Blackwater added a 2nd marker seconds later.

Dale Wiese would score the games first goal in the 1st period on a two on one rush up the ice with Levi Nelson. There is some discrepancy as to who got the goal. The puck went off a Chief defenseman in front and behind Kevin Armstrong.

The game got physical in the third with a couple of scraps. Zack Smith toiled with David Rutherford and Erik Felde renewed acquaintances with Chris Bruton.
I was impressed with the Chiefs but by no means did they blow me away. For being ranked 2nd in the CHL and the WHL's top team, the Chiefs are certainly beatable, although not on this night.

Their defense is suspect. But when you can play in the other teams end for most of the night it takes a lot of pressure of your defensive corps. There isn't a big name defenseman on the Chiefs team except for the star on the rise that is 16 year-old Jared Cowen. The rest are just ok. The Broncos wheeled around pretty good inside their zone a couple of times but couldn't put the puck home. Their goaltending and offensive abilities are fantastic. The top line of Drayson Bowman, Mitch Wall and Chris Bruton has put up some big numbers this season.

So day three is in the books. It didn't start well. The bus had some problems with the transmission and the crew was forced to bundle up in the -14 weather and hoof it over to the rink (about a 10 minute jaunt).

(left to right) Mike Brown, Derek Claffey, Spencer McAvoy and Joel Rogers get ready for the chilly walk to the Cranbrook Rec Plex.

The Red Deer Rebels occupied the hotel across the street from the Broncos. They made the overnight trip to Cranbrook from home after beating the Regina Pats 4-1. Thanks Rebs!

The team hit the road for Spokane shortly after 1:30pm and crossed into the U.S. at Kings Gate portal in Idaho. It provided us with a lighter moment. A border patrol officer from the Department of Homeland security entered our bus to have a look at all our passports. He finally reached Czech import Jan Dalecky just a seat behind me. Here's how the conversation went.
Officer: What's this... where's your passport? Where are you from?
Jan: I from Czech Republic
Officer: So are you here visiting?
Jan: (blank expression)
Officer: Are you a landed immigrant?
Jan: (mouth open but no words coming out)
Officer: What's your deal, what's your story young man, c'mon!
The bus went silent.....
Officer: Oh I'm just messin' with ya....
The whole bus erupted with laughter. The border patrol officer had me going. I think Jan might have had an accident in the process.

Spokane Arena perspective from the Broncos bench

10 minutes away from face-off. 8000 fans would file their way in for the Saturday night contest.

View from the broadcast booth. The Broncos huddle around goaltender Travis Yonkman as they go through their opening face-off routine

Finally, the teddy bears. After blanking Kootenay on their Teddy Bear Toss Night, the Broncos couldn't keep the Chiefs off the scoreboard. Mike Reddington's goal 3:20 into the 2nd period brought the onslaught of bears onto the ice.

The Broncos will take tomorrow off from game action but will practice in the morning before some afternoon free time. I have a lengthy shopping list and won't have much time to do it when I get back home so I may take care of a few Christmas gifts.

Included on the shopping list will be a new pair of swimming trunks. We booked our Christmas trip to the Domincan today. Nine days and counting to the warm sunshine and sandy beaches.

More tomorrow,

Friday, December 07, 2007

Broncos Play Scrooge, Blank Ice On Teddy Bear Toss Night

Erik Felde's shorthanded goal 11:25 into the first period would stand up as the game winner as Travis Yonkman made all 34 saves for the shutout and the 1-0 Broncos win. The teddy bear's had to wait 'till the end of the game to be thrown on the ice as several fans tossed them in disappoint after the final buzzer went (pics below).

The Broncos saved the last period to play their best - outshooting the Ice 14-6 in the final frame while giving them only a couple of scoring chances along the way.

The Broncos actually did score an insurance marker as Dale Wiese slapped home the puck on a centering feed out of the corner on a delayed penalty. Referee Cory Maclean (who actually called a pretty good game), inadvertently blew his whistle when the puck was thrown out of the corner and in front of the net just as Wiese sent it home.

"He told me Kootenay touched it" Wiese said to me in the bus on the way over to BP's while explaining his animated conversation with the referee. Well, a member of the Ice didn't touch it until goaltender Kris Lazaruk scooped the puck out from the back of the net. Maybe it was payback. The Broncos lone goal of the night was offside and maybe should have been blown down.

Regardless, the Broncos didn't need the insurance as they held on for the 1-0 win. Pretty good way to start to six game road trip. The Broncos grinded one out, something they have been guilty of not doing very well this year.

Next up, the best team in the WHL in the Spokane Chiefs tomorrow night. We're on the air at 8:30pm SK time, 9pm play-by-play. It's another Teddy Bear Toss Night. Can the Broncos do it again?

Day 2 pics below

Broncos celebrate a midst of rain of Teddy Bears at the end of the game. This pic looks like it could have been taken at the I-plex doesn't it?

Assistant Coach Tim Kehler in the post-game Coaches Show.

Broncos post-game meal at Boston Pizza. Where else?

(l to r) Erik Felde, Dale Wiese, Levi Nelson, Spencer McAvoy put back the beef dip

Broncos leave the ice after big win. The Teddy Bear's continue to fall. A teddy bear came on to the ice with about a minute to play. Dale Wiese skated over to it and threw it back in the stands as to almost say "sorry, not tonight".

Levi Nelson reports for the game at 4:15pm. He's always the first one to show up at the rink on gamenights. Nelson, Erik Felde, Zack Smith, Paul Ayotte and myself chose to walk over from the hotel rather than catch the 4:45pm bus ride.

Nelson and Justin Dowling "toss some sauce" pre-game.

Broncos line-up for Oh Canada. The big line of Felde/Smith/Dansereau wwas reunited for tonight's game.