"Keener, just to let you know Yonks is unlikely for practice today... we are trying the midgets but u are on deck...get out the gear."
That was a text message I received just before noon yesterday from Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler...
Of course my next thought was "what's wrong with Yonks?"
"Undisclosed... you in or out?"
Well, I hadn't put on my goalie gear all season long but thought, hey if they need a guy for today why not? World class junior players shooting pucks at you... may make for a good story down the road. Besides, I've skated before with the guys on the road on an off-day or two.
So I dug my gear out of storage, replaced my worn out goalie skate laces and loaded it all up in the back of my Xterra. Got to the rink, trainer Paul hooked me up with a practice jersey and I was good to go.
I got on the ice and Tim blew the whistle for the first drill as everyone gathered at the white board.... seconds later Travis Yonkman emerges from the room with a big smile, in full gear and ready to go...
Apparently it was Zack Smith's idea, he got the ball rolling on it so I'm told. No surprise there.
Tim (trying not laugh but not doing a very good job) told me to stick around... get a few pucks in anyways. I didn't want to get in their way, after all the 2nd round is just days away.
Guggenberger and I shared a couple reps. I tried to stay out of the way for the most part.
It at least gives me a sense of how good these kids are. It's tough to gauge from the booth sometimes. There's a reason thousands of fans come to watch these players. They're a skilled bunch. As Yonks said "not exactly your Rec league shooters eh?"
I'll have something brewing next year.... bank on it.
Good to see Swift Current native and Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall on the news last night talking about the Broncos being "Saskatchewan's team". He's encouraging the rest of the province to jump on board as Saskatchewan's last WHL team standing.
Brad, I need a colorman Saturday night for game two... just throwing that out there...
Honestly some of the Calgary Hitmen's numbers and facts are staggering. Take a look at all the high end NHL draft picks on the squad:
Karl Alzner - Washington's 1st round pick - 5th overall 2007
Alex Plante - Edmonton's 1st round pick - 15th overall 2007
Brent Seabrook - Washington's 2nd round pick 2007
T.J. Galiardi - Colorado's 2nd round pick - 2007
Brett Sonne - St. Louis 3rd rounder
Ryan White - Montreal 3rd rounder
Throw in a couple 7th rounders, Paul Postma (Atlanta) and Carson McMillan (Minnesota).
No wonder a bus load of NHL scouts follow the Hitmen around. They're checking in on their future.
Here's another number which got my attention. The Hitmen are a perfect 40-0 in the regular season and playoffs when leading after two periods. That's unreal.
The Broncos didn't have much success on the PP against Calgary in the regular season posting an unremarkable 1 for 21 mark on the man advantage.
The Broncos beat Regina in round one without their powerplay going. Somehow I don't think a shoddy PP is going to get it done against Calgary. Granted, Calgary's PK unit is amongst the best in the league. Pressure, pressure, pressure. You'll see what I mean Friday and Saturday night.
The Kelowna Rockets and my pal Regan Bartel were ousted last night from the WHL playoffs in a game seven showdown in Seattle.
Kelowna can take some solace in the fact they should be a powerhouse next season and the year after. Their blueline this season featured Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers - two potential first rounders and Tyson Barrie, a 16 year-old who plays in all situations.
Their forwards are young and skilled and they will be dangerous next season. Just getting this crew into a game seven scenario creates some good playoff experience to draw from in the future.
10C and sunny tomorrow in Swift, finally some playoff weather.