It was so easy in round one to look for a plot line... an angle. Simple.
Good guys against the bad guys. The Conference's most hated team in the Pats taking on our boys in a best-of-seven old fashion western shootout.
Well the obvious one is the big city, big market franchise against the grassroots, community owned team that will attempt to knock off the big dogs. But after that, what?
Call me crazy, but the Calgary Hitmen are a pretty likeable team. Guys like Paul Postma and Kyle Bortis. These two were traded two games into the season and honestly I quite like the duo. Bortis was deemed a saviour as the Broncos 1st round bantam pick in 2003. He was just off a National Midget Championship with the Saskatoon Contacts and was supposed to lead the team back to greatness after a year out of the playoffs in 2004/05.
Paul Postma? You won't find a better kid in this league. Honestly, the family Paul and his family are outstanding.
How 'boutCaptain Canada Karl Alzner. The Hitmen d-man lead Canada to a gold medal at the World Juniors over the Christmas break. He plays the game the way it should be played. A role model defenseman, someone you build your team around.
From assistant coach Dave Lowry to their play-by-play broadcaster Brad Curle. All good people. Curly is one of my favorites. A good guy from Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan. He's a guy I looked up to while going to College in Lethbridge when he was with the Hurricanes. He was the first to e-mail me after the Broncos clinched the series with the Pats in six.
Will a hatred between the two teams develop? Without question. Bronco fans will not be liking Ryan White by the time this series is through I guarantee you that.
They're well-rounded, and well coached. They didn't have the best record in the Eastern Conference by fluke.
What's their take on the Broncos in round two?
"They're a very fast team, they have a good group of forwards and it's going to be tough"
- Hitmen Head Coach & G.M. Kelly Kisio
"We've had tough battles against them. We've escaped a few games with some close wins and we've lost a few too. We know it's going to be another series. They are a team similar to us. The team that has good special teams and stays healthy is the team that is going to come out on top."
- Hitmen captain Karl Alzner
Thanks to 800 CHAB's Mike Henschel for tracking down some Calgary audio for me last night.
I think the Broncos like this match-up just based on how many Calgary kids this team has. Eric Doyle, Mike Brown, Justin Dowling, Levi Nelson, Taylor Vause, and Ryan Molle will call Cowtown home.
I think the team is also excited about the added exposure this series could bring them. There's a lot of players on this squad going after NHL contracts at the end of the season. Calgary's scout room is always jammed before the game. It's a convenient place for them to watch games. NHL General Managers often frequent the 'Dome to watch junior games. If you want to make an impression Calgary is the place to do it.
The Broncos and the Hitmen have met eachother two previous times in the post-season. The teams went the distance in the opening round of 2002 with the Broncos prevailing. In 1998, the Hitmen rallied back to win the series in seven.
The Broncos hope to get some bodies back in round two. I'm not sure on the Erik Felde and Jesse Dudas situation but we should know more in the coming days.
The playoff schedule should be finalized sometime today. I'll post it when it's released.
Who do I feel the best for in all of this? Besides our fans who have been great and deserve an extended run, let's think about Head Coach & G.M. Dean Chynoweth.
The plan is coming to fruition. I've seen him handle the pressure of the fish bowl. He's had some tough times from fans, the message boards, even the Board of Directors. But he's stayed the course. Not bending to the pressure.
The whispers of Marc Habscheid sometimes became more audible as the growing pains of a rebuilding team were often too much to handle. A handful of die-hard Habby supporters did their best to stir it up to anyone who would listen. They know who they are.
I like the local product. Marc Habscheid has been good to me as a person and as a member of the local media. It's his henchman that rattle me.
Expect Habby back in the WHL somewhere next season. He's been a good Bronco supporter this season and has been to a lot of practices lately with his son Zach skating with the club.
That's all from me today....the Regina Leaderpost just showed up.
This should be good....