Calgary would bend, but never break as they skated to a 5-2 win at the Credit Union I-plex to even the 2nd round best-of-seven 1-1.
This is some kind of hockey. Easily the highest calibre I've seen all season or in my five years with this team. It really is a treat to watch and call. The fans of this series are the big winners.
Calgary never relinquished the lead after scoring 1st 9:30 into the opening period. The Broncos fell behind by two goals twice but always got the next marker to keep the Hitmen within reach.
2-1, after the first, then 3-2 after two, Kyle Bortis would score an insurance marker four minutes into the third on a nice set-up from T.J Galiardi after a Broncos miscue in their own zone. Galiardi would add an empty netter in the final minute to cap a four point night.
For the 2nd night in a row, the Broncos outshot the Hitmen (40-34). The Broncos were outshot in all four regular season contests.
Perhaps the strangest part of last night's game was the powerplay opportunities. For the first time that I can remember, the Broncos did not give the opposition a powerplay. Calgary would finish the night 0/0 on the PP while the Broncos were 1/3 thanks to Zack Smith's deflection in front on an Erik Felde one-timer.
Game three of the series is Tuesday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
- What great insight from colorman Tim Tisdale on our broadcast last night. Tim had his finger on the line match-ups and the coaching game within a game all night long. It was quite the chess match as the teams jockeyed for the right match-ups. The former WHL coach of the Regina Pats is one of the best hockey minds out there.
After the game in the post-game coaches show with Assistant Coach Tim Kehler, I felt like I didn't want to get in the way of their discussion as they broke down game two. Tisdale's line of questioning and Kehler's responses was a real treat to listen to.
There are times I think I know the game quite well, and there are times I realize I have a lot to learn - like last night. Solid work by Tiz.
No doubt Ryan Switzer packs in the entertainment value like no other. We are going to explore the possibility of getting Tiz down at ice level in a Pierre McGuire "between the benches" role next season or possibly later on in the playoffs. I think it would really compliment what Ryan and I do with the broadcast. To add a solid X and O's guy to a high energy broadcast would give us the best of both worlds.
- Bronco Hall of Famer Todd Holt joined us for a 2nd intermission chat. He was at the game with his family. You could sense in his voice how much he loved being at the game with the atmosphere around the team. I asked him if tonight's pace reminded him of the way it used to be when he played here in the late 80's and early 90's. He pulled no punches and said the pace of this series was way quicker than when he played. He credited the skill, strength and size of the players for the quick tempo we're seeing.
- Hitmen Associate Coach Dave Lowry was our guest in the pre-game. With all the playoff rituals going on between these two teams, I asked Dave why he's not growing that thick red, mean looking playoff beard he sported in the Calgary Flames playoff run in 2004. Remember that? He told me it isn't red anymore... the color has changed more to the grey side. He said he would have to color it just like the players in this series are doing with their hair.
- Getting back to the whole shots on goal thing. I'll try to keep my own shot numbers in Calgary because of the shot clock homers at the Saddledome. It's embarrassing how they try to favour the home team to make it look like the play is one-sided. Most times in Calgary maybe the play is one-sided but I'm going to be the official shot clock watchdog next week. I'm talking about shots not credited to the visitors, a rebound and a whack at a puck that multiplies into a four shot flurry for the hometeam, etc. Coaches around the WHL can relate to this, in fact several have mentioned it to me over the years.
Sunday is anything but a day off. Getting together three pre-game shows for the next week will be the focus. The team will depart for Calgary sometime tomorrow afternoon.
Can someone tell me what's going on with the NHL playoffs? I'm completely lost. Worse yet, I'll miss the radio station's playoff draft because of being on the road. Maybe I can join via text message.
We're on the air Tuesday at 6:30pm
Have a good day,