Sunday, November 02, 2008
Smoke and Mirrors? Broncos 13-5
At what point does the term "smoke and mirrors" just go "poof" and disappear?
The Broncos found a way to win last night to take back the east division lead with a 3-1 win over a hard-charging and desperate hockey Moose Jaw Warriors hockey club.
Although the Broncos lead the division, I'm skeptical to use the term contenders at this point. They are making due with a young roster and winning as a team.
Travis Yonkman and Mark Guggenberger continue to give the Broncos a chance to win every night with sensational goaltending. The numbers don't lie. The tandem has combined for a 2.1o GAA and sparkling .927 save percentage. Yonkman is a perfect 4-0 this season. In my time with the Broncos there has never been a better 1-2 punch in goal.
Credit has to go to Head Coach / GM Dean Chynoweth and Assistant Coach Tim Kehler. They are doing a wonderful job with this club and have had to deal with their fair share of injuries early in the season. Players like Jesse Dudas, Cody Eakin, Matt Tassone, and Jordan Peddle were all out of the line-up last night. A rash of injuries like that could cripple some teams in the league, but the Broncos just get players to step up into those roles. Mike Brown, Taylor Vause, Brad Hoban, Grant Toulmin, Jan Dalecky, Oliver Jokel, Christian Magnus, and Dillon Wagner are doing a great job despite limited WHL experience.
This team is hanging their hat on team defense. 39 goals against is the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
So back to my original question. Smoke and Mirrors or the real deal? Time will tell. But it's been an unlikely start for a team which lost three key players to graduation, and three more to NHL contracts, and four of their top five scorers from last season.
Broncos 3 Moose Jaw 1
The Hunch Bunch came out strong hitting and forechecking everything. After a few good breaks for the Broncos in the opening minutes, the Warriors finally cashed in by crashing the goal and finding a rebound 11:12 into the 1st period.
While the Warriors dominated the period, the first Broncos pressure resulted in Warriors defenseman Ryan Stanton closing his hand on the puck in the crease which led to a Justin Dowling penalty shot. J.D. scored on a creative forehand deke to tie the game.
Late in the period and on the 4-on-3 powerplay, The Killer D's struck on a nice three way passing play... Dansereau from Dowlng and Doyle to give the Broncos the unlikely 2-1 lead after the 1st period. Dansereau roofed a one-timer from the bottom of the circle on Deven Dubyk in the Warriors crease.
Does anyone shoot a puck better in the league than Keegan Dansereau? The Warriors Joel Broda and Kelowna Rockets Jamie Benn can also fire a puck with a quick hard release. The trio have to be in the WHL's top five in that regard.
The Broncos increased the lead to 3-1 just over five minutes into the 2nd period on a Warriors turnover just inside their blueline. Dansereau's shot put out a rebound to a driving Taylor Vause
The hard hitting, physical play continued on both fronts. Quinton Howden blindsided the Broncos Jan Dalecky hard in the corner which put him down on the ice for awhile. Jan left the game and never returned although Assistant Coach Tim Kehler said in the post-game show that Jan wanted to return but for precautionary reasons they decided to keep him out.
In my opinion, the hit on Jan from Howden was hard and in a dangerous position near the boards but not dirty or with intent to injure. Kehler says the coaching staff reviewed it in the intermission and felt it was clearly a high hit and blow to the head. They passed on that to referee Steve Papp before the third period started.
The Broncos played another solid third period and didn't allow much. They played smart and disciplined and coasted to a 3-1 win handing the Warriors their 5th straight loss and 8 in the last 9 games.
I'm thinking the Warriors are due for a turnaround. If they can play that hard consistently, maybe get some goaltending and some disciplined play, they will get more than their share of wins leading up to and after Christmas.
The Broncos are now 11-1 vs the Warriors the last two seasons.
1) Eric Doyle - 1a - was a horse on the back-end. Did it all.
2) Mark Guggenberger - another ho-hum 33 save performance
3) Keegan Dansereau - 1g, always dangerous
This and that:
- Cody Eakin is back skating with the team after a concussion October 15th. If he continues to progress, he could be back in the line-up Wednesday vs Prince Albert or the following weekend.
- Matt Tassone is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. His status for Wednesday is unknown.
- Jan Dalecky will be re-evaluated Monday after leaving last night's game.
- The Broncos start of 13-5 is better than last year's quick start of 11-5-0-2.
- Keegan Dansereau wore the captain's "C" last night to begin his November term as team captain. He said before the game it's the first time since novice he's been a team captain.
- Jan Dalecky is going to be our next guest for " Mic'd Up" on the Broncos website... look for that later this week at www.scbroncos.com