I've taken a few days to catch my breath and get ready for the final month of the regular season and hopefully a long playoff run....
The Broncos begin a six-game homestand tomorrow night when they host the Kootenay Ice. It's a tough stretch with the likes of Medicine Hat, Kamloops, Chilliwack, Moose Jaw and Brandon all coming in between tomorrow and March 5th.
As we all know the Broncos split the weekend with a 4-3 overtime win over Moose Jaw Friday and a disappointing 7-3 loss in Prince Albert Saturday.
I'll talk about Friday first. Moose Jaw came in and probably played their best games against the Broncos in the five game season series to date. For the most part I thought the Warriors outplayed the Broncos. However, that wasn't exactly backed up from Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak in our post-game show when Ryan asked him his thoughts from ice-level. Hunchak challenged his team on a few occasions...
"Our start was awful. We had passengers that first 10 minutes. Guys weren't willing to pay a price and compete and they were for a full 60, we played for 50 and they (Broncos) deserved the extra point"
"We need to get healthy #1, #2 we need to get our big guns the Knackstedts and Holzapfel's of the world playing to their capability and #3 our goaltending needs to get better. There's no question Travis Yonkman outplayed Joey Perricone tonight and that was the difference in the hockey game."
"We are built to be a physical team and we need to do that consistently. I truly believe over a seven game series we will start to wear a team down. We will get back at it tomorrow and have a good old fashioned battle practice."
The Warriors played their physical style and tried to intimidate. A lot of people after the game questioned the tactics of 20 year-old Terrance Dellaronde challenging 16 year-old Cody Eakin off the opening face-off in the 2nd period. The fight, which featured more wrestling than anything could have been scored a draw. Don't tell Dellaronde that who got up off the ice and acted like he just took out Garrett Klotz of the Blades. The showboating of Dellaronde was puzzling to say the least. I guess he failed to realize that no one had the advantage as Eakin got involved in his first square-off fight in his short WHL career.
In talking to Cody the next morning, it was no-doubt a mutual agreement to get things going. "Just having some fun Jon, that's all," was Cody's remark as we loaded up for Prince Albert the next day.
What is it with Prince Albert? Their top players all come out to play against the Broncos as guys like Matt Robertson, Ryan Mcdonald and now Justin Bernhardt continue to rack up the points.
Bernhardt used the Broncos to propel himself to a WHL Player of the Week honour recording three goals and an assist in a 7-3 win. The Raiders scored four times on five opportunities in a span of 11 minutes in the the third period to chase Travis Yonkman from the net. Assistant Coach Tim Kehler called it a "mercy pull" in the post-game show. He was amazed the team would quit on their goaltender after all the solid play he's provided for them lately.
Ryan Mcdonald added a powerplay goal late in the 3rd with Mark Guggenberger in goal to finish off the scoring. The Raiders win five of the six season series meetings as the Broncos thankfully say good-bye to the Raiders until next season.
The Broncos host the Kootenay Ice tomorrow night in the third game of the head-to-head season series. The teams have split the first two meetings. The Broncos blanked the Ice 1-0 in Cranbrook December 7th in the infamous Teddy Bear Toss Night shutout from Travis Yonkman.
Not sure on the injury front as to whether to expect any help. Matt Tassone injured his shoulder Friday night and is day-to-day. Mike Brown, Michael Wilson, Dale Wiese and Jan Dalecky all sat out on the weekend. A couple are getting close and should probably play this week in the pair of home games.
The Broncos play their next six at home as they attempt to close the four point gap between themselves and the Regina Pats for the east division lead and the 2nd seed in the Conference.
The Pats are on the road in Calgary tonight to take on the Hitmen. Calgary has company in the Central division with Lethbridge refusing to go away. They are winning and beating some good teams along the way. They outscored Kootenay, Calgary and Regina 13-3 in their last three games.
A reminder, tonight's Best Western Meet the Broncos has us setting up shop at Boston Pizza. Join myself along with Zack Smith and Eric Doyle between 5-7pm.