Well, I'm glad that's over.
What a roller-coaster series with momentum shifts and swings at every turn. In the end, the Broncos skill and speed shone through the bigger more physical Pats. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, almost unbearable for Bronco fans.
How tense was that final 16 minutes?
A jammed Credit Union I-plex erupted on the empty-netter from Dale Wiese. Relief, excitement, passion. This is why we love it, and hate it sometimes too.
What a series, and credit the Regina Pats. They didn't want their season to end in round one and are disappointed without a doubt. They put in a great effort and losing to the this Broncos team is nothing to be ashamed about.
Many outside of this series are calling this an upset. Don't believe it for a second. The Broncos and Pats were two of the best teams down the stretch in the Eastern Conference. As fate would have it, they also would meet in the playoffs.
The Broncos wanted this match-up heading into the post-season. Going as far to actually say it publicly. At times in this series, I wondered if they thought they bit off more than they could chew. The Pats looked dangerous in game one. I've never seen a team play more physical than the first eight minutes of the series opener.
Three big moments stand out for me.
1) Travis Yonkman's stick paddle save in overtime on Jordan Eberle
2) Dale Wiese's eventual double OT winner in game four to even the series
3) Derek Claffey reaching behind his goaltender to save a sure goal, only to have the Broncos score on the ensuing rush up the ice in the third period of game five.
Take your pick as the series turning point.
It should also be pointed out the Broncos won this series without two of their top four d-men for seven man games. The Bronco "D" deserves some props for stepping up. Unsung guys like Derek Claffey, Ryan Molle and Spencer McAvoy should take some credit.
The media in Regina is going to target Linden Rowat. It's the nature of the beast. The Pats goaltender wasn't at his best in games five and six. But look at the shots that beat him last night before getting pulled. A Cody Eakin laser from the slot. Dale Wiese on a breakaway. A Geordie Wudrick deflection in front on the powerplay. Those were not softies.
Also, with Jeff Bosch coming in and stealing the show for the last 53 minutes, there's even more red meat for the media carnivores to chew on.
Instead, I hope they focus on the fact these two teams went at it for six games. It was a war. Give credit where it's due instead of lambasting the Pats 'tender.
Apparently I'm not a good motivator.
I learned during the series that Pats Head Coach Curtis Hunt was pulling excerpts from this blog and posting them in the Pats dressing room. Not sure exactly what was used but I'm flattered.
Here's a coach who has won two World Junior gold medals who actually put some stock in what I have to say. Either that or he's looking for any edge to get some extra jump from his guys.
Curtis and I had a great pre-game interview before game six. His voice raspy from the night before. As he put it heading into game six, "it's ok, I'll be alright because there's not much left to say".
If Calgary wins tonight, the Broncos and Hitmen will lock it up in round two regardless of the Brandon/Lethbridge result. Because of the Juno awards in the Saddledome, the Broncos will likely open up the series on home ice for games one and two before going to Calgary for three straight mid-week.
Here's your other round two playoff scenarios:
If Moose Jaw and Lethbridge win, the Broncos will play Kootenay
If Moose Jaw and Brandon win, the Broncos will play Brandon
The Broncos can't play Lethbridge or Moose Jaw in round two.
I ran into the Brandon Wheat Kings and their staff at Houstons Pizza yesterday. They were passing through en-route to Lethbridge while I was having lunch with family.
Kelly McCrimmon was interested in our series and Assistant Coach Dwyane Gylywoychuk was surprised to see me take a break from blogging. I told them they would something to read when they check into their hotel.
They have a big game six tonight as they try to force a game seven Monday.
The week off will be a big benefit to the Broncos. It will buy some time for the bumps and bruises. Erik Felde should play at some point in round two. Jesse Dudas remains a question mark. I would wager his playoffs aren't done.
The last 48 hours has been good to the Broncos and their fans. The organization is on a roll. New look building, exciting team, sold-out playoff games and now a little post-season success.
Things are looking up.
Pack your bags for round two.