Monday, February 11, 2008

A Special Effort, A Special Group

10 straight….

Short five regular players due to injuries, the Broncos went into Calgary with the odds of extending their winning streak looking doubtful at best against one of the best teams in the country.

No Dale Wiese, no Michael Wilson, Jesse Dudas, Spencer McAvoy no Jan Dalecky… no problem.

The Broncos rode the back of Travis Yonkman for a 24 save shutout performance in a 2-0 win over the Eastern Conference leading and the CHL’s #2 ranked team

The Hitmen, coming off a 3-1 loss in Red Deer came at the Broncos and had them on their heels for the first five minutes. A disallowed goal just 57 seconds was the only break the Broncos seem to need.

A red-hot Dan Spence in the Hitmen goal stymied chance after chance to keep the game scoreless through two periods. Travis Yonkman matched him with some key saves in the frame – none bigger than a miraculous glove save off Brett Sonne while laying on the ice to keep the game in a goalless draw.

The Broncos finally scored the games first goal with just under seven minutes to play as former Calgary Hitmen Keegan Dansereau tipped in a point shot from Eric Doyle.

The Broncos then had to weather the powerplay storm you knew was coming after the Broncos had seven straight man advantages in the 2nd period.

The penalty kill was lights out…again. Great work by guys like Brad Hoban, Cody Eakin, Geordie Wudrick, Matt Tassone, Bretton Stamler, Derek Claffey, the list goes on.

David Stieler’s empty-netter in the final minute sealed it as the Broncos posted their 10th straight win in front 10,500 pro Hitmen fans inside the Pengrowth Saddledome. It’s their longest winning streak in 15 years dating back to the 93-94 season.

The team showed a lot more emotion when the final buzzer sounded as they huddled around their goaltender. They knew it was a big time effort given the circumstances and the obstacles put in their way. It was a special effort.


- The penalty kill has now killed off 50 of the last 51 advantages. It’s been nothing short of sensational after some struggles at times this season. The guys are pressuring and sacrificing their bodies to make plays. It’s a treat to watch.

- Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler was all smiles in the post-game show. “Without a doubt our biggest win of the season,” Keller commented afterwards. “There’s not a lot of people that would have picked us to win today given all adversity heading in.”

- Quite the WHL debut for Taylor Vause. The Broncos 16 year-old call-up was excellent with four shots on goal and playing a regular shift in the process. He was a head-turner at training camp for his speed and puck-handling. He’s a piece of the puzzle in the future of this hockey team.

- The winning streak has begun and ended with solid goaltending. The tandem of Travis Yonkman and Mark Guggenberger has been fantastic. The Broncos haven’t allowed a goal on the road in 198 minutes. Impressive. My colleague Ryan Switzer has dubbed the duo "Yonkenberger".

- The Broncos Calgary contingent is amongst the strongest in the league. Mike Brown, Eric Doyle, Ryan Molle, Levi Nelson, Justin Dowling and Taylor Vause all had large cheering sections today.

- The guys are excited but were already talking about Wednesday’s rematch with the Hitmen back at the Credit Union I-plex. It’s a fun group to be a part of right now.

The best of Chris Farley on SNL is on the bus TV…. Have a great week.


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