For the first time since the 2001-02 season, the Broncos have recorded 40 wins in a regular season.
Last night it was the Travis Yonkman and Braden Holtby show as the goaltenders combined for 76 saves on 78 shots through regulation and overtime. Yonkman stopped three more in the shootout while Holtby came up with two of the three attempts. The only one he didn't get was when Broncos Keegan Dansereau scored on his patented back-hand shootout move for the 2-1 win.
The goaltenders were deservedly so the 1st and 2nd stars and even shared a little pat on the pads from eachother while on the ice for the three star selection.
The Broncos go 7-0-0-1 against the Blades this season and move into a tie for 6th/7th in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I haven't played in my hometown (Saskatoon) for awhile. It was good to get back on that ice and I had something to prove going in, and I think I helped get us the two points tonight," commented Travis Yonkman in the "on the bus" interview post-game.
Assistant Coach Tim Kehler shared his post-game thoughts with us.
"I think the star of the game was our goaltender Travis Yonkman without a doubt. I thought he was exceptional and for him to win it in a shootout. For his benefit, stopping all three Blades shooters I thought that was a nice feather in his cap and really put the focus on his game tonight."
The win did little to clear up a still muddy playoff picture. The Broncos sit tied for 6th/7th in the Eastern Conference, just a point ahead of Moose Jaw in 8th. All the Broncos know at this point is they will not be playing either Moose Jaw or Brandon in the 1st round. Other than that, Calgary, Regina, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Medicine Hat all remain a possibility. While it remains up in the air, I have a feeling the Broncos and Pats are set to meet in the opening round of playoffs for a 2nd straight season. While I would love to see Regina and Moose Jaw go to war in the 1st round, I know the Broncos won't mind the decent travel schedule and the match-up itself. We will wait and see how the final weekend plays out. For now, don't ask me about playoff dates or game-times... just let the regular season run it's course.
A few Saskatoon observations from last night.
- The Star Phoenix's pre-season predictions sure missed the mark...
- Lorne Molleken has the Blades playing their best hockey of the season. They are playing as well as any team the Broncos have seen lately. They outplayed the Broncos for the most part while rolling four lines.
- The Blades will lose some key players next season like Chris Durand, Ondrej Fiala and possibly Colton Gillies. They should be able to get back into the playoffs with their returning cast.
The Regina Pats have won the East division thanks to a six game winning streak while feeling the pressure from behind from the likes of Swift, Moose Jaw and Brandon.
Winning in Moose Jaw is no easy task. The Pats closed off the race in style with a 5-4 win. The banner will look nice at the Brandt Center but no doubt it won't mean a thing come next Friday night when they open up the first round of playoffs.
Playoffs will be unique this season with eight evenly matched teams in the Conference. Every round will be as equally difficult. The 1st round will be as hard as the Conference final with the way the teams line-up.
More later, for now, the short turnaround from the bus to the morning sports run has me bobbing for apples....