Thursday, January 31, 2008

Streaking Broncos / Pack the 'Plex Tomorrow Night

It's the longest winning streak under Head Coach and General Manager Dean Chynoweth's four season tenure.

The Broncos collected their fifth win in a row with a 3-2 victory over a hard-working and determined Saskatoon Blades team last night at the I-plex. The club hasn't won five games since November of 2003 when the likes of Jeremy Williams, Tyler Redenbach, Ian White and Aaron Rome rolled together.

The Blades held the lead until late in the 2nd period when Keegan Dansereau tied things up on the powerplay with his 17th of the season. The Blades were playing a perfect road game until some undisciplined play from their captain Colton Gillies. Gillies was eliminated on a hard check by Derek Claffey along the boards as Gillies attempted to go wide on the Bronco d-man off the rush. Upset, Gillies took a run at a Bronco player in the corner and took an elbowing call which could have been a charging minor - take your pick.

The Broncos scored on the ensuing powerplay and turned the game around.

Levi Nelson and Erik Felde added third period markers while Travis Yonkman made 35 saves for the win in goal.

The Blades played inspired and outworked the Broncos for most of the night. It was a solid bounce back performance after losing 7-3 on home ice the night before but not enough to get any points out of it.

(laughing), It feels amazing. I don't think I've ever had that (five game winning streak) in my minor hockey and midget hockey days... let's keep it going.

- Broncos defenseman Ryan Molle post-game.

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- The Broncos penalty kill has all of a sudden found it's stride and is making a big difference in the outcome of games. The Blades had a 5-on-3 for 1:28 in the 2nd period and failed to generate a shot on goal. The Broncos have now killed off 25 straight penalties and have their PK just shy of 82%. The PK has been a bit of a sore spot at times this season.

- The recent run still has the Broncos in 8th place in the Conference but the standings have folded up like an accordian. They now are only 3pts out of 4th and home ice advantage in the opening round of playoffs. Here's a quick glance:

*Calgary GP: 54 PTS: 78
*Regina GP: 53 PTS: 71
Lethbridge GP: 52 PTS: 69
Moose Jaw GP: 51 PTS: 64
Med Hat GP: 52 PTS: 64
Kootenay GP: 52 PTS: 63
Brandon GP: 50 PTS: 62
SC GP: 53 PTS: 61

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It's big night tomorrow as the Broncos host Dave Hunchak and the Moose Jaw Warriors for Pack the 'Plex night. The Warriors will be an owly bunch after losing in Edmonton last night 5-1. I saw some of the highlights. A few bad and careless turnovers resulted in some Oil Kings' goals. You can bet Dave will have his team looking for a bounce back performance. Expect an inspired Warriors team after a stinker at Rexall Place last night.

The Broncos have won all three head-to-head match-ups with the Warriors but this is the first game played at the I-plex in the season series. The Broncos and Warriors still have five meetings before the end of the regular season.

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Thanks for your patience.....

The Broncos are thanking fans for their patience this season with hockey in a construction zone. Work continues at the I-plex and plans for a Christmas completion was just that... plans.

Dean Chynoweth weighed in the situation yesterday.

" I think at times everyone thinks it's a complete building but that's not the case yet. There's been a a lot of headaches and inconveniences mainly for the fans. There are a lot of things that are and were out of our control that is a situation where we will get them up and running. We really appreciate the patience our fans have shown."

" A year from now we won't be talking about the upheaval there was we will be excited about the new people in the new seats, the new amenities and the whole new environment. There will definitely need to be some patience for the rest of the year. Our concessions aren't fully operational and we want to get the North entrance up and running along with bathrooms on that end."

"The patience has been greatly appreciated, the support has been greatly appreciated and I sure hope we can fill the building tomorrow night (for Pack the 'Plex night) because we saw what it was like with 2500 fans last weekend and it was just a tremendous environment."

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Too Much to Handle, Broncos Win 4th Straight

A quick start, a three-goal lead, and the rest was nearly academic in Saskatoon last night.

The Broncos won their season high 4th straight game with a 7-3 victory inside a very chilly Credit Union Center. It was –37 outside and the building had some trouble keeping up, so did the Blades.

Not nearly a flawless effort, the Broncos offense took control despite some bad turnovers which resulted in a couple of Blades goals including a penalty shot marker from Ondrej Fiala with eight seconds to play in the first to cut the lead to 3-1 and give the home team some life.

First period tallys from Keegan Dansereau, Bretton Stamler (his first as a Bronco) and Erik Felde on the powerplay gave the Broncos the start they were looking for. They also chased starting goaltender Garrett Zemlak from the Blades goal in favour of Braden Holtby to start the 2nd.

Geordie Wudrick added a pair in the 2nd period to make it 5-1 before Chris Durand cut the lead to 5-2 after two periods.

Dale Wiese struck on a shorthanded breakaway just 25 seconds into the third period to put the Broncos up 6-2.

Gaelan Patterson scored on the shortside of Mark Guggenberger at 2:02 of the period to cut it to 6-3.

Michael Wilson completed the scoring with his 5th of the season after getting to the net and picking up a Geordie Wudrick rebound for the Broncos 7th and final goal of the night.

Mark Guggenberger finished the night with 25 saves. He was fine although he may want one; maybe two of the goals back. He provided a solid backstop for his 2nd win in Broncos uniform.

A career night for Geordie Wudrick. He finished the game with two goals and two assists and was chosen as the game’s first star. It was Geordie’s first four-point game. Up to this point in the WHL he didn’t even have a three-point night to his credit. He was a big presence in the game. He’s collected six goals in his last six games. His line along with Justin Dowling and Cody Eakin has provided another scoring threat.

The Broncos played without Matt Tassone who sat out the game with the flu. He’s been hot lately with goals in three straight games. He’s up for the Boston Pizza Fan’s Choice Player of the Week Award over at www.whl.ca

Kelowna Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton was in attendance checking out his son Curtis Hamilton. The Blades rookie was their 1st pick in the 2006 bantam draft. Bruce will be in Swift Current tonight to catch the 2nd half of the home and home set.

The Broncos will have to be better than they were in order to win both halves of the midweek series. The Blades will be better and the Broncos have to know that going in.

The win gets the Broncos back in the race for 5th, 6th and 7th in the Conference. They have to work hard for it. Teams in front of them have been playing well too and making up ground has been tough. There has been little to no favours. If they want to climb in the Conference standings they will have to do it themselves. Any help would just be a bonus.

Standings:

Calgary 76
Regina 71
Lethbridge 69
Moose Jaw 64
Med Hat 64
Kootenay 63
Brandon 62
Swift Current 59
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Edmonton 44
Saskatoon 39
Prince Albert 39
Red Deer 34

- Is it warming up? The sign at the I-plex read -26 as we got off the bus shortly after 1am. Arriving back in Swift and not being able to start my car was my biggest fear. No problems there. It's back to work at 5am at the station and then game-time again tonight. Pre-game show at 7pm, play-by-play at 7:30pm.

G'night,
Jon

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

News and Notes / Pack the Plex Friday!

Tassone Up for Award

The Boston Pizza ‘Fan’s Choice’ Player of the Week nominees have been selected!

Among the nominees is Broncos forward Matt Tassone. A product of St. Albert, Albert, Tassone is in his second full season of play in the Western Hockey League. He also is eligible at the upcoming 2008 NHL Entry Draft, this June in Ottawa, Ontario.

http://www.whl.ca/hm/fanChoice.php

Voting will be open from today at 9:00 am (MST) through until Friday, February 1st at 10:00 am (MST).

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Innovation Credit Union Pack the Plex Night Fast Approaching

Innovation Credit Union and the Swift Current Broncos are inviting everyone in the Southwest to “Pack the Plex Night” this Friday as the Broncos entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Broncos are looking to set a new attendance mark in the newly renovated facility. The largest crowd of the season to date was 2,487 which was set this past Friday against the Kelowna Rockets.

The night will feature pre-game ceremonies with dignitaries from the City of Swift Current, Innovation Credit Union, the Western Hockey League and the Swift Current Broncos, along with a ceremonial puck drop. Those in attendance will want to be in their seats a little bit earlier than normal to ensure they don’t miss a second of the action. Pre-game ceremonies start at 7:25 pm while puck drop is at 7:30 pm.

Innovation Credit Union will be giving away “A-Buck-A-Seat” based on the number of tickets sold. If all the seats are sold one lucky fan will win $2,865.00. Check out www.scbroncos.com for the daily updated ticket sale totals.

“Outta Bounds”, two local singers, will also be performing live before the game starting at 6:30 pm and during the 1st and 2nd intermissions.

The Broncos have currently sold over 1,600 tickets for Friday’s game. Call the Broncos Office at 773-1509 or stop in the Broncos Store to pick yours up today. There are still Innovation Credit Union Family Fun Night ticket packages available for just $20, which include 2 adult and 2 student tickets.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of record breaking history. Come “Pack the Plex”!

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Goals for Education First Time Buyers Deadline

If you’ve never purchased a ticket in the Goals for Education Lottery, the Broncos, the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince Albert Raiders have a special new prize giveaway that could be just for you!

A First Time Buyers draw, for $2,500 cash, will be made on Saturday, February 16th. The deadline for first time buyers to purchase tickets and qualify for this special draw is February 13th at 5:00 pm. The Swift Current Broncos want to encourage their fans to take advantage of this special draw while also qualifying for the Early Bird prize. The Early Bird draw for $25,000 or a Leisure Trailer valued at $25,000 will also take place in Prince Albert on Saturday, February 16th.

The Goals for Education Lottery is the Broncos’ biggest fundraiser of the season. All proceeds from the lottery are shared between the Broncos, Warriors and Raiders and are used to fund their respective player scholarship funds.

A total of over 1,600 tickets have been sold as of January 29th for this year’s lottery with the $100,000 grand prize scheduled to be drawn on March 15th in Swift Current at the Broncos final regular season game.

Tickets for this year’s Goals for Education Lottery can be purchased by calling the ticket hotline at 1-888-640-GOAL (4625) or the Swift Current Broncos Office at (306) 773-1509.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Broncos Shoot For Season High Winning Streak

The Swift Current Broncos have been here before... three other times to be exact.

The hockey club has won three straight games for the fourth time this season. Tomorrow night they will take a crack at their 4th straight "W" which would their longest such streak of the season.

In order to do that they will have to go in to Saskatoon and beat the Blades. Not an easy task the way Saskatoon is playing lately. The Blades fought hard in Moose Jaw and Regina over the weekend only to lose in either a shootout or overtime. Not playoff bound, the Blades haven't given up one bit and their compete level seems to be as strong as ever.

The Broncos are 2-0-0-1 against the Blades this season. They are set to get awfully familiar with Lorne Molleken's crew over the next week. The teams meet four times in a span of eight days. The Broncos only visit to Saskatoon led to a 4-3 shootout loss. The Broncos were seemingly in control of the game until two third period goals sent the game into extra time.

It's a 7:05pm face-off tomorrow night from the Credit Union I-plex.

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The Broncos have picked up the knack of being streak breakers lately. A win in Moose Jaw last week ended the Warriors seven game home winning streak. Friday's win over Kelowna ended a five-game winning streak and Saturday's victory against Regina stopped their seven gamer. In fact the Pats have three losses in their last 12 games. All three have been courtesy the Broncos. These teams are done the season series. Safe to say the Pats are ok with that.

"We talked about getting in their heads...we want teams to be scared to play us in the playoffs. I'm sure were in their heads right now. We've shown we can go into their building and win some. They've had a lot of trouble coming in here although they've come from behind twice now in the last two games but we're finding ways to win. It was a good win for our team tonight."

-Broncos forward Dale Wiese in our postgame show Saturday night.

When it comes to breaking streaks of teams Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler told us it isn't their motivation.

" I don't know if it's as much ending streaks as it is starting one of our own. Here we are again at three wins in a row for the fourth occasion and will we be able to push through and reach a new plateau in terms of the success that we're able to string together."

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The Three Star selection at the end of games have generated some talk lately. This guy over that guy and such.... I think our track record of picking stars is pretty good and if you go back and see the quarterly winners this season the accolades fit the right players in my opinion. But, I think it's time Ryan and I share the duties a little bit if not relinquish them all together. Not sure if there's any other media member willing. A couple years ago the Booster was picking stars every other game. That didn't last long though and we were again put back in the full time role.

It seems this is the focus of the game for some fans. Forget the result, the three stars didn't include my favorite player and ruined my night! Now I'm going to track down the radio guys in the lobby post-game or at Boston Pizza and have my say.

I'll say it again... some nights I wish it was the five-star selection so we could get more star worthy players in there. It's the three stars and that's the way it is.

We usually take a 30 second commercial with 4-5 minutes to play and quickly get the stars sent over to the other side of the rink to the PA announcer while one of the gamenight staff comes up to collect the info so he can grab the right player as they make their way to the dressing rooms.

So here's an open invitation. A warning. It's a thankless job.

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It was blowout night across the WHL. Calgary blasted Brandon 9-2 while Medicine Hat put up seven goals in a 7-1 win in Edmonton. In Kamloops the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes led 6-0 after the 1st and skated to an 8-1 win.

More weekend thoughts.... the Portland Winterhawks watch continued. They were blanked in Calgary Friday 6-0, shutout in Edmonton 3-0 and managed a last minute goal in Red Deer last night in a 4-1 loss.

The Winterhawks are on pace to challenge the Broncos futile record of 135 goals in a season in the 04/05 campaign. The Winterhawks lone goal in three games now has them on pace to score 133 which would break the dubious mark for the entire CHL.

Windchills to -45 and beyond the next few days in southwest Saskatchewan. Stay warm and we will see those diehards Wednesday night when the Broncos host Saskatoon!

Jon

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bar Has Been Raised

- Of the three bloggers in the broadcast booth last night it looks like I'll pick up the bronze medal when it comes to timeliness.... both Ryan and Regan have good takes on last night's game. You can find their blog link over on the side of the page.

- Following last night's complete performance - one of the best of the year by the Broncos - it's time for the players and fans to expect more from this hockey club. It's not that expectations were ever low but now over the last couple weeks we know what this team is capable of and anything less would be unacceptable. They've always been a strong team on paper. Now they are starting to play.

- The Broncos took it to the Rockets despite having to kill off 11 powerplays including a 5-on-3- for a full two minutes in which the Rockets didn't get a shot on goal. Granted the Rockets weren't very sharp and their compete level was average (Just ask Jamie Benn, he didn't want the puck at all last night).

- The home team couldn't have asked for a better script. Their biggest crowd of the season, the Grey Cup in the house, a dominating penalty kill which hasn't been great this year, and a shutout effort against a high flying offensive-minded team. The Grey Cup even made it's rounds inside the Broncos dressing room following the game. Apparently the Winnipeggers on the team Dale Wiese and Cody Eakin enjoyed it too!

- Thanks to the three Riders for all their great work last night signing autographs and talking to fans. Nathan Hoffart, Marcus Crandell and Anton Mckenzie - great job guys. The place went nuts when they were announced at center ice prior to face-off. A standing ovation. It electrified the home team to see that much energy before the game started.

- Mark Guggenberger had a debut to remember in the Broncos goal. His 30 save performance was nearly routine. There was maybe two flashy saves over the course of a night but he helped himself with his calmness and rebound control. His post game interview was great too. More Guggenberger on the radio please.

- I would expect the Broncos to go back to Travis Yonkman tonight with the Regina Pats coming to town. The Pats won their 7th in a row last night with a 3-2 OT win in Medicine Hat. The Pats are rolling but their last two losses have come at the hands of the Broncos. New Year's day in Regina on Mike Wilson's OT winner and January 6th in Swift Current on David Stieler's OT goal.

- I've made the comparison a lot lately of Jesse Dudas to Aaron Rome. Dudas brings back the same style that Romer had. He plays with an edge, is physical and adds some offensive ability. They even skate the same. Dudas is a solid pick up. He was our 2nd star last night.

- It wasn't the usual names on the Broncos scoresheet last night. No Wiese, Smith, Nelson, Felde or Dansereau. It was the likes of Eakin, Wudrick, Dowling and Tassone. It goes to show you the depth of this hockey team. All four lines were good last night. That is what it's going to take in the playoffs to be successful.

- GREAT match-up tonight. Can't wait for this one. Broncos and Pats at 7:30pm from the Credit Union I-plex. It's the sixth and final meeting of the season. The Broncos are 3-2 against the Pats while the Pats could say they are 2-1-2 against the Broncos due to a pair of overtime losses. They've won seven in a row and are playing their best hockey of the season.

Jon

Friday, January 25, 2008

Broncos Welcome Special Guests / Red Deer Crime Fighters

Four members of the Riders will be bringing the Grey Cup to tonight's game at the I-plex versus the Kelowna Rockets.

Players Nathan Hoffart, Anton Mckenzie, Mike McCullodough and Marcus Crandell will accompany the Coupe de Grey at tonight's game. The will be signing autographs pre-game and in the 1st intermission.

Another reason to check out tonight's game? The Kelowna Rockets are the best young team in the WHL right now. After the trade deadline, the Rockets boast the 2nd youngest team in the WHL 2nd only to Prince George.

The youthful exuberance has powered the Rockets to 1o wins in their last 11 games as they meet the Broncos in the first and only meeting of the season between the two teams.

How dangerous is Kelowna going to be next season?

Face-off at 7:30pm. We have the action on the Eagle 94.1 FM beginning with the pre-game show at 7pm.


Here's an interesting story from Gregg Drinnan's blog, what a great job from these three young men:

"According to the Red Deer Advocate, three Rebels players put the stops to a robbery on Wednesday afternoon. Brandon Sutter, Luke Egener and Brennen Wray, according to the paper, “were in a vehicle following a team practice when they noticed a person fleeing on foot from Visions in south Red Deer. The Rebels followed the thief in their truck and helped recover an iPod Touch — which they returned to the store manager — after cornering the thief in a parking lot. The robber, however, eluded their capture.” . . .

What the story failed to mention is that the robber, after eluding the three members of the Rebels, came in alone on James Reimer and went shelf for his third of the night.....

Have a great weekend,

Jon

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rockets Putting Up Impressive Numbers

Ahh yes, the Kelowna Rockets... the team I've yet to see this season but probably heard about the most.

That's mainly due to my daily reading of Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel and his blog over at
reganbartel.blogspot.com . Regan is a friend of mine and does a great job following the team on the site and it's safe to say this is a team I won't have to do much research on.

I've seen and read it all... the battle for the #1 goaltending spot between Torrie Jung and Kris Westblom... everything that makes Regan go Hmm... and of course the big story these days - how the line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and former Bronco Brady Leavold (below) are dominating lately.


The numbers are impressive:

- After combining for 14 points last night against the Portland Winterhawks, the trio has a total of 191 points!

- They are a combined +100 which shows they're putting up numbers even strength not only on the powerplay.

-They all have impressive point streaks including Leavold's current 13 gamer. In fact Leavold has had back-to-back five point games.

- Colin Long has a 10 point lead a top the WHL's scoring race with 79. Mark Santorelli of the Chilliwack Bruins is a distant 2nd with 69.


The best line in the WHL? The numbers easily back that up.

It's also translating into team success and why wouldn't it. Kelowna is 10-1 in their last 11 games and have climbed within four points of the Western Conference shared by Vancouver and Spokane.

So with the Broncos coming off a seven goal night in Moose Jaw and the Rockets a nine goal performance against Portland it's safe to say both these teams are confident in their goal scoring abilities heading into their one and only meeting of the season tomorrow night. The game could be a far cry from last year's scoreless draw through 65 minutes where a shootout gave the Broncos a 1-0 win in Kelowna. How quickly things change.

Of course the big story surrounding this game is the return of Brady Leavold to Swift Current - a place he called his WHL home for 133 games.

The outspoken Leavold at times had a love/hate relationship with his teammates and for that matter the city. Life in a smalltown isn't for everyone... and those who know the situation also know a change was for the best, for all parties involved. Don't think for one second Leavold would have put up these kind of numbers with the Broncos...don't even go there. It wouldn't have happened.

I used to call Brady "the cat" for his nine lives he had with this team A player who quit, was traded to Everett, didn't report and then ended up back in Swift Current for his 19 year-old season is a great example of that.

If Brady didn't have potential to put up some numbers in the WHL do you think Dean Chynoweth would have invested so much time and effort in him? He was given ample opportunity and he will be the first to tell you that I'm sure. It just wasn't working. You can't fit a square peg into a round hole. A change of scenery was necessary and it was granted...on several occasions.

So Brady is finally living up to what the Broncos thought he was capable of but just in another jersey. His match-up against the Broncos tomorrow night has many angles and games within a game.

Drama, suspense, a thriller, maybe even a horror .... take your pick. It'll be quite the show.

Jon

Broncos 7 Moose Jaw 4 / Wudrick Ready for Prospects Game

The Swift Current Broncos scored four first period goals and rode it to a 7-4 win in Moose Jaw - ending the Warriors seven game home-ice winning streak in the process.



The Broncos took advantage of some jittery play and poor rebound control from goaltender Joey Perricone, chasing the starting goaltender late in the first period in favour of Todd Mathews after Levi Nelson's PP goal at 13:14 to make it 4-1.



The game plan was simple - and effective. Get pucks to the net and get after loose pucks. It was a gritty effort which resulted in several bang and crash goals. Matt Tassone's 2nd goal of the game - a shorthanded marker set-up by Erik Felde midway thru the 2nd period made it 5-2 and may have been the turning point.



The win was the Broncos third of the season against Moose Jaw. They've all come inside the Moose Jaw Civic Center, a place the Warriors have played their best hockey.



"I don't know what it is about this Broncos team but that's the third time this year they've come in here and stolen both points. We definitely weren't as sharp and as prepared to do the little things," fired Warriors Associate Coach Rene Lemire in the Warriors' post-game show.



Meanwhile the Broncos were all smiles for their road win. It was Moose Jaw's first regulation home ice loss since mid-November.



"If we're shooting and guys are going to the net we're going to get goals like that. That's what a lot of the goals were like tonight - one guy shooting, one guy driving and the third guy high," said Spencer McAvoy who added a goal and an assist. He's made a seamless transition back to forward after playing the year on the back end.



The game did get greasy as Levi Nelson seemed to be a target of the Warriors all night long. Levi played right back at them collecting a goal and two assists while getting his nose dirty on a few occasions.



I was disappointed in the late goings as the Warriors attempted to grease it up with the rough stuff. They weren't about to go quietly. Warriors Frazer McLaren - who wasn't all that effective on the night despite some recent offensive success, went after Zack Smith following the Broncos empty-netter to with 1:36 to go in the game. The final 1:30 went pretty quietly except for a late scrum involving Levi Nelson and Giffen Nyren.

The Broncos are now 6-2 against division rivals Moose Jaw and Regina. I only mention that because one of those teams has a good chance of meeting the Broncos in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Broncos host Brady Leavold and the Kelowna Rockets Friday night in what should be a high flying affair at the Credit Union I-plex.

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Bronco fans will be keeping a close eye on the CHL/NHL Top Prospecst game out of Edmonton tonight. Geordie Wudrick will play for Team Red and is excited to match up agains the top draft elgible players from across the CHL.

"I don't think I'm nervous just excited. It's a big honour to be able to play with all the top players ranked in the CHL for the upcoming NHL draft. I'm just going to go out there and try to work hard and bring a physical presence into the game."

Wudrick particpated in last night's skills competition and 3-on-3 game. You can catch tonight's game on Sportsnet at 8pm Saskatchewan time out of Edmonton's Rexall Place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quotables....

Here's a random sampling of the thoughts and comments from some of the players / coaches leading up to the Broncos and Warriors tonight in Moose Jaw....

Broncos rookie forward Cody Eakin on the six games still remaining between the teams...

" I think sometimes lot of guys get on each other's nerves, I think there might be some bad blood after a couple games. Other than that I just expect a hard working, hard hitting game."


Moose Jaw Warriors Associate Coach Rene Lemire....

"We know Swift Current is well coached, Dave (Hunchak) was with them the past few years...if you take Swift Current lightly they're going to burn you. They've got a lot of speed but what we need to do is do what we've done lately and that's take the physical game to them early."


Bronco forward Matt Tassone on the two previous Bronco wins in Moose Jaw...

"Both games went to overtime and one went to a shootout so it's always close between the two teams and we have a good rivalry. We have to go in their and play like we have in the first two games and hope for a good outcome."


Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak on the Broncos.....

"They skate very well, they're skilled and the two guys they added on the back-end (Stamler and Dudas) gives them a whole different dimension besides (Eric) Doyle and (Michael) Wilson. It's going to be a difficult challenge and a game I think is very, very important game for our team."


Broncos goaltender Travis Yonkman on playing inside the Moose Jaw Civic Center....

"It's a smaller rink so everything is going to be plugged up. It's going to be a gritty game. We have to get pucks to the net, bodies in front of (Joey) Perricone and just make it hard for him. We're expecting a close game."

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Dubious Record in Jeopardy?

The 2004/05 season for the Broncos was one of their toughest ever in the stats department. Missing the playoffs that year for the first time in 31 seasons was the lowlight for the team that struggled to score goals. In fact the Broncos scored only 135 goals that season, the lowest total ever in the CHL.

But hold the phone. The Broncos name could be erased off that dubious distinction if the Portland Winterhawks continue their woes. They've scored 92 goals in 47 games or 1.95 goals/game. In comparison, the Broncos averaged 1.87 goals a game that season. The Winterhawks are on pace for 141 goals. At that rate they actually would finish 3rd in the category - just one goal ahead of the 2003-04 Saskatoon Blades who lit the lamp 140 times.

Somehow the Broncos still managed 22 wins and 53 points in 04/05 and would have made the playoffs had the cross-over rule or the conference seedings been in effect. (Regina 34 pts, Moose Jaw 39pts).

Just a quick Monday morning tidbit...


Jon

Broncos/Warriors Summit Series Set to Begin

When this is over, these two teams aren't going to like each other much.

The Broncos and the Moose Jaw Warrriors get ready for six head-to-head meetings over the next eight weeks. Adding to that is a potential 1st round playoff series would could add as many as seven games to the total. Could you imagine 13 games between these teams from now till the end of the year?

Of those six games, four will be in Swift Current while the other two are set for the Moose Jaw Civic Center. The Broncos have won the first two meetings either in overtime or a shootout. The Warriors are hot, they've won five straight overall and seven in a row on home ice. Their last loss at home actually came to the Broncos November 24th, 2-1 in a shootout. Their last regulation loss on home ice was November 16th to Calgary.

It's also the first time these teams have met after making more changes up to and including the trade deadline. The Broncos haven't seen the likes of Keaton Ellerby, Ty Wishart and Evan Fuller while the Warriors haven't faced the Broncos with their new look back-end.

It should be great. We're on the air tomorrow night beginning at 6:30pm with the pre-game show. Warriors General Manager Chad Lang will be our guest before puck drop.

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What a game Saturday Night!

It featured the most emotion between two teams at the I-plex this season. The Broncos and Vancouver Giants slugged it out for 60 minutes in a playoff type atmosphere.

Both teams were physical, hard on the forecheck, gritty... it was great hockey. The Giants held on for a 2-1 win despite a late Bronco push for the tying goal.

I was impressed with the Giants effort. That was their sixth game on their trip and they looked as fresh as ever. Credit Don Hay, the Giants head coach knows how to get the most out of his players. After the game Don said to me as he was leaving "boy, I guess we had some jump and energy after all eh?" I told him I was impressed to which he replied, " yeah our guys take a lot of pride in that." It was a follow-up conversation to our pre-game show interview in which we talked about the road weary team coming in for their final game of the swing.

I hope the Broncos took note of that. The way they played against the Giants and vice-versa was how you have to play every night in this league if you want to be an elite team.

My first look at Casey Pierro-Zabotel was impressive. He was the best player Saturday night in all situations. I was very impressed, what a pick-up for the Giants out of the BCJHL.

There were several good Bronco efforts too... pretty much the entire team bought in and elevated their play. Dale Wiese and Erik Felde flew in hard on the fore-check and dished out several big hits throughout the game. Spencer McAvoy was doing a great job up front as was Cody Eakin. Eakin had one of the biggest hits of the night when he caught up to former teammate R.J. Larochelle in neutral ice and blew him up along the penalty box glass.

"They're the best team in the league for a reason. They're well coached, and they take advantage of every opportunity they get whether that's five-on-five, on the powerplay or shorthanded. I think we had to play a near perfect game tonight...they were definitely on their game. One positive coming out of this is we know where we have to be at to compete at the top of this league"

-Broncos defenseman Bretton Stamler

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gameday Thoughts

- Its the Broncos and the Giants tonight from the Credit Union I-plex. After 2300 fans took in the 9-3 win over Red Deer, I'm expecting a pretty big crowd for this match-up against the defending Memorial Cup Champions. I'm excited for this one... I think the city is too.

- How much does Vancouver have left? This is their 6th and last game of their east division swing. Last night they had a rough and tumble game in Moose Jaw. I'm betting it won't matter much. A team doesn't get to the top of the standings by mailing in the last game of a road trip. Expect Vancouver to look fairly fresh as they battle tonight.

- This could be a make or break game for the Giants who are 2-2-0-1 on their swing so far. A win would mean they would salvage the road trip, a loss and they would be pretty disappointed with it.

- This is the first game that Garret Hunt is eligible to return in. The veteran Giants sparkplug served his 7th and final game of a suspension for his hit on Seattle's Bud Holloway.

- The Broncos should have Keegan Dansereau back tonight. He sat out Wednesday's game due to injury.

- The Broncos haven't had much success against the Giants recently. Vancouver has won the last three contests including an 8-4 win two seasons ago - the last time the teams met at the I-plex. The Broncos last beat Vancouver November 3rd, 2004. That was a wild night. The Broncos tied it 4-4 thanks to back to back 3rd period PP goals from Alex Leavitt and Kyle Annesley. Luke Hunter then won it in overtime. The Broncos had 16 powerplays that night. I remember it well.....

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So I recently picked up the Hockey News and it was their annual "Top 100 Power People of the NHL". It was a good article as it detailed, the players, GM's, owners, media personnel (at least 10 in the top 100), and TV executives deemed to be the Top 100 power holders of the league. By the way, Sidney Crosby edged out Gary Bettman for the #1 spot this year. Sid the Kid is getting more and more pull around the NHL and the article goes into it at depth.

I got to thinking... what about a WHL Top 50 Power People list? You could throw several names out there from owners, to GM's to League Executives.

A big difference between the NHL and the WHL is that the players don't hold that much clout in the WHL. Neither do members of the media. Sponsorship deals and TV rights don't dictate how the WHL does it business. It's controlled by the League Office, the Board of Governors, a handful of G.M.'s and notable people from across the league.

No brainers on such a list would include WHL Comissioner Ron Robison, Vice President of Hockey Operations Rick Doerksen. Ed Chynoweth carries a lot of weight at the league level and would crack one of the first couple spots. Owners like Ron Toigo, Bruce Hamilton, Brent Sutter, The Brodskys, etc., would also be no-doubters on the list. A select number of General Manager's would also crack the list like Kelly Macrimmon, Brent Parker, Russ Farwell, Dean Chynoweth, Kelly Kisio and others to name a few would also garner some attention. The odd Head Coach could also find their way on.

So I'm in no position to compile a list like this but I would challenge my counterpart in Kamloops Gregg Drinnan (Kamloops Daily News) to take a stab at it. He's been covering this league longer than I've been around. I think it would make for a great article. Have at'er Gregg. It would be a great read. And Gregg, feel free to slide your name in their somewhere....

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Six Pack 1st Period Carries Broncos to Victory

For all intensive purposes, last night's game vs the Red Deer Rebels was over after the 1st period.

The Broncos gave up the first goal just 2:07 in when Brandon Sutter's powerplay point shot rebounded of the back wall to a wide open Colby Kulhanek for the empty-netter. After that, the Broncos took over.

Six goals in a span of 12:16 put the Broncos up for good. Zack Smith got the parade started at 4:27, followed by Geordie Wudrick's 10th, Bretton Stamler's 1st as a Bronco at 8:18. Dale Wiese scored two pretty goals back-to-back at 10:00 and 14:48 His first picked up huge style points for his between the legs dangle on Rebels D Mike Scarborough. Mike Brown completed the flurry at 16:43 with his first of two on the evening.

It was a rough night for Rebels goaltender James Reimer. Coming in on a big-time roll as the WHL Player of the Week, Reimer had a let down game and was temporarily replaced for a couple minutes after the Broncos fourth goal. Morgan Clark played a couple of minutes before Reimer went back between the pipes.

The win was the Broncos 4th in a row on home ice as they prepare for a battle with the Vancouver Giants Saturday night.

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- I talked to Rebels Coach Brian Sutter post-game. He had some interesting thoughts on the night. He told me he left Reimer for the whole game because they win and lose as a team. Reimer's been getting a lot of the glory around there for the last couple wins. The reigning WHL Player of the Week was shelled in the game in front of a young, inexperienced blueline. Was Sutter perhaps sending a bit of a message to his veteran goaltender? Not sure but it looked that way.

- Some late first period fireworks led to a couple of tilts. Levi Nelson hit Rebels D Juraj Valach pretty hard from behind as Valach touched up the puck on delayed penalty going to his team. Nelson didn't let up on the check in front of the Rebels bench and I don't blame them for reacting. The score is 6-1, you're about to take another penalty and an opposition player hits you late and from behind in front of you're own bench? That's a recipe for disaster.

Geordie Wudrick was on the wrong end with a bigger, stronger Cody Esposito while Matt Tassone wrestled with another Rebel player on the ice. Bretton Stamler had a tussle with Brennan Wray - it was deemed the 2nd fight of the melee and both players were handed game misconducts. Meanwhile Levi Nelson somehow escaped the entire incident with his gloves on and unscathed! I hope he thanked his teammates after that one. Levi actually played a pretty physical game and handed out a ton of hits.

- Brandon Sutter played a strong game and was in on all three Rebel goals. The 1st round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes still has some physical maturing to do before he makes the jump to pro hockey. Expect him back with the Rebels next season.

- Good to see Mike Brown up his goal total from one to three on the season after last night's game. The big, thick kid out of Calgary is a guy you can't help but cheer for. He has a great attitude and apparently has been busting it at practice big time lately.

That's all I can muster up this morning,

Have a good'er,

Jon

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Huge Blow for Rider Nation

It's expected that Riders Head Coach Kent Austin will announce he's leaving the Riders for Ole Miss in the NCAA at a news conference set for noon today in Regina.

I'm not looking forward to the response across the province on this one.... duck and cover.

Sitting Down with Stamler

I had a chance to have a chat yesterday with newly acquired Broncos defenseman Bretton Stamler.

The veteran shows a lot of good leadership skills and that's maybe what the Broncos need for their stretch run to put all the pieces in place.

Here for only a week, Stamler has had some good observations on what needs to be done to make the Broncos a consistent, winning hockey club.

Here's some pieces of the interview....

JK: Home ice debut tonight for you and Jesse Dudas. What do you expect?

Bretton: It's kind of like any other game. I've been through lots of these situations before whether it's in front of scouts or a home opener. Obviously being traded is a bit different but it still carries the same emotions and I know how to handle it. Just play a simple game, move the puck and try not to do too much.


JK: The Broncos have an abundance of depth on the blueline. How confident of a group are you guys with that mix of talent and veteran leadership?

Bretton: I think we're very confident but I don't think fans will see that until playoffs. In the past like in Seattle we rolled four guys. Three of us defenseman played all situations and one other just played PK and even strength. When you're in a long series and you're playing four defenseman, it's almost impossible. When we played Vancouver (in the playoffs), it just became impossible with forechecks and teams have so much video....when you play them night after night they get to know your tendencies.

As we're going into playoffs, if we get into the habit of rolling six guys I think you'll save a lot of legs and later in series you'll have a lot more success moving the puck out of your zone.


JK: What's been the focus of the team at practice lately?

Bretton: Not a lot of systems right now. The Broncos are known as a very highly skilled team throughout the league. I think any team knows the Broncos have a lot of talent and can score goals throughout the line-up.

So the last couple days we've just been working on competing consistently. You hear a lot of coaches talk about it even in the NHL. When I went down to camp at Detroit that's all Mike Babcock preached was making sure you compete. Even the other night when the Islanders were in Edmonton that's all Ted Nolan talked about in the post-game interview is that you have to be able to compete.

Systems are systems, they don't change very much from team to team. If we can just learn to compete every night and be consistent we will have success especially going into the playoffs.


JK: How comfortable are you with this team? You were the captain in Edmonton but can't really come in here and take-over from that standpoint but eventually you will be leaned on for some leadership. How comfortable are you in your present role?

Bretton: I'm comfortable because they have a good group here and guys who are willing to listen and have the same goal as I do.

I just think looking at this team and all this talent... it's almost like taming a Bronco. I know that sounds strange being that it's the name of the team and all but it really is. There's so much talent and a lot of potential but... you really have to focus and condense that. We have to make this team consistent every night. It's tough, and it's one of the hardest things to do for an individual hockey player.

For example, you look at the Vancouver Giants last year. They probably weren't the most skilled team offensively but they did the same thing every single night. Lines 1 to 4 and six defenseman, everybody did the same thing and no one could compete with them at the end of the day other than Medicine Hat who did the exact same thing. That's what it takes.

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Broncos and Red Deer Rebels tonight for the fourth time this season. The Broncos have won the previous three meetings but it's a new look Rebels squad after they made a handful of moves at the trade deadline. Departed players include J.D. Watt, Scott Doucet, Brennan Sonne, Dallas Jackson, and Matt Strong. They welcome players Colby Kulhanek, Troy Ofakuny, Juraj Valach, Cody Gross and Brett Miller.

It's a 7:30pm face-off. The Eagle begins coverage at 7pm.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Clark Gassed / Broncos Search for Solutions

So Donn Clark was let go as General Manager of the Prince Albert Raiders today. The only question I ask is.... What took so long?

The Raiders have struggled in the new era where big, rough and tough isn't the consistent winning formula anymore. The Raiders will miss the playoffs this season and that should come as no surprise. Sure their was heavy optimism for them to grab a spot headed into the season but their roster just didn't stack up to some of the other teams in the conference.

Although there is a slight chance they can grab a spot before seasons end, thoughts in Raiderville have turned to next year... or maybe the year after. Looking at who they return and who they will lose, playoffs could be a longshot next season.

To Clark's credit, he claims the team is in much better shape financially than when he took over. In small market WHL hockey that's just as important as wins and losses.

So after eight years, the Raiders are moving on. Bruno Campese has been named the interim General Manager. From all my dealings with Bruno in the past, I think he's a smart, intelligent individual who people will cheer for to get things turned around.

My dealings with Donn Clark have been limited at best. I have a pretty good story on a conversation that went down in the media room we had in my first year in the league. Ask me about it sometime. I won't share it on the blog.

I listened to today's news conference from the Ches Leach lounge on CKBI 900. It was short, to the point and rehearsed. In and out.

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Meanwhile on the home front, the Broncos are still searching for the way they need to play to be successful on a consistent basis. There's no doubting the talent that has been assembled. It's just a matter before it clicks and the light bulb goes off.

They played well in Regina Saturday night and probably deserved a better fate. Regina found a way to win, the Broncos didn't, plain and simple. Five on five the Broncos were the better club but it wasn't enough to knock off the Pats for a fourth time this season.

It seems they always have one piece of the puzzle missing. Some nights they lack a nose to the net, sometimes they can't get that key save, sometimes they're uninspired. Any one of these elements working against them is often enough to cause a stumble.

Home ice has been better lately with three straight wins at the I-plex. They will try to run that streak to five by the end of the week with a game Wednesday against Red Deer and a Saturday night tilt with Vancouver (who they catch on the final game of their six game road swing).

Ryan Molle was full contact today in practice and should be cleared to go Wednesday night leaving the Broncos with eight healthy defenseman (knock on wood).

Mark Guggenberger has been put through the paces pretty hard the last couple days trying to get back in game shape. Don't expect the 18 year-old charismatic goaltender to get a start for awhile...maybe a couple weeks. I asked one of the guys how "Gugs" has looked so far in practice. "Awwe, he's sick!" which in teenager terms is a good thing.

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Mike Wilson and Cody Eakin were our guests tonight for our Monday Night Meet the Broncos at Kabos Family Restaurant. Thanks to Steve for hooking us up on the evening!

Finally, here's clip from the rough and tumble mid 90's in the NHL. Old time hockey on display here between the Bruins and the Devils. Gotta love the line match-up. The Devlis are down 3-cobb early and send out Lyle Odelin, Mike Peluso, and Randy Mckay for a spark. Watch the bout that takes center stage at mid-ice. Anyone look familiar?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmBZq13pqJQ


Jon

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Take

Ok, so four deals for the Broncos over the last two days has them feeling pretty good about the current roster as they prepare for the stretch run and post-season.

To Dean Chynoweth's credit, he did exactly what he set out to do. Adding some depth and defense mixing things up at the back-up goaltender position.

Today's pair of deals weren't really surprising. It was known going in that 19 year-old Jesse Dudas was a name that may be available at the deadline for the right price.

The St. Albert d-man has battled his fair share of injuries over his career but is effective when healthy. He comes into the situation already knowing a couple of his teammates in Spencer McAvoy and Matt Tassone. The trio from the Edmonton area are said to be friends and that's a good start to fitting into his new surroundings.

It should come to no surprise that Prince George G.M. Dallas Thompson took a liking to Ian Curtis - Thompson was in attendance for his best two games of the season.

Curtis made 23 saves in Prince George for a 6-1 win up in PG this October. Then, in Everett with Thompson looking on, Curtis made 22 saves and looked good in a 3-1 victory over the Silvertips.

Broncos Head Coach / GM Dean Chynoweth admitted P.G. had a couple Bronco players circled as the teams were looking at a much bigger deal earlier in the season that didn't happen. I can only venture a guess it had something to do with Ty Wishart.

This trade is a bit upsetting for me because Ian Curtis has been "my guy" for the last three years. I've pumped his tires since he was 15 as the next superstar. I was so impressed with him at his first Broncos camp after being a 2nd round bantam pick in 2005. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft that year. Bronco scouts will be shedding a tear for me the next few days.... not likely.

Anyone who wanted to talk Broncos hockey I was always quick to mention this Broncos surefire prospect who was big, athletic and full of swagger in goal... a Justin Pogge clone if you will. Remember, Pogge never really found his game till midway through his 18 year-old season.

Time ran out and trades are made and that's the nature of the business. I hope he goes on to a solid career with the Cougars and proves me right. Good luck Curtsy.

To fill the void in goal, the Broncos went out and picked up Mark Guggenberger from the Portland Winterhawks. Although a bit of a work in progress, some NHL sources say Guggenberger has the total package of size and athleticism you don't see very often in a goalie.

The Broncos plan to carry a 23 player roster for the rest of the season ( two goalies, eight defenseman and thirteen forwards). Defenseman Ryan Molle is back practicing and may play sometime next week. The initial 8-10 week injury report has since changed for the better.

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I've never been one to post trade rumours. With that said, it appears some message boarders out there have no regard for our guys. The players all read these internet forums and blogs and I know there were some outlandish rumours posted the last couple days which led to some tense days for a handful of Broncos.

The internet is a powerful tool and shouldn't be abused for the sake of having some fun.
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Thanks for everyone surfing into Keen's Korner. The last few days have seen record number of hits. Today's trade deadline fueled number could reach nearly 1000 visits.

Broncos and Brandon tomorrow night on the Eagle 94.1 FM. The pre-game show will recap all the Bronco moves complete with reaction. I will also do my best to introduce you to the newest members of the Broncos over the next three nights.

Join myself and Mike Fraser in Brandon beginning at 7pm with the Big Show, 7:30pm play-by-play.

Two More Deals....**Update** Broncos Done Dealing

Broncos Deal with Prince George and Portland

The Swift Current Broncos have announced that they have traded 17-year-old goaltender Ian Curtis to the Prince George Cougars for 19-year-old defensemen Jesse Dudas and forward prospect Catlin Foley.

In addition, the Broncos have acquired 18-year-old goaltender Mark Guggenberger from the Portland Winter Hawks for a conditional 2009 draft pick.

“We wanted to solidify our backend at the deadline, with yesterdays deal and now the acquisition of Jesse we feel we have done that,” commented Broncos General Manager/Head Coach Dean Chynoweth. “We would like to wish Ian the best of luck in Prince George.”

Dudas is in his 4th season in the Western Hockey League and was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. 6’1”, 228 lbs. St. Albert, AB

Foley was originally drafted by the Cougars in the 6th round, 120th overall in the 2007 Bantam Draft and is native of Cornach, SK.

Head Coach Dean Chynoweth states “Catlin is presently playing in Notre Dame and will add to our young group of 1992 born forwards.”

Guggenberger is from Richfield, MN and is 6’3”, 208 lbs. He is in his 1st season in the WHL.

More Deals Today...

The Broncos are poised to release another trade this afternoon. Stay tuned.

More info on Stamler

Here's a bit more of what he's all about.

This was recorded last year....

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=LGC-v1pgoKs

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Goods on Stamler; So Long R.J. **Updated**

Broncos Head Coach / G.M. Dean Chynoweth weighs in on the pair of deals made yesterday.

JK: Talk about Bretton Stamler and why you went out and acquired him.

Dean: I think he will be able to bring that stability that we're looking for to our back-end. His leadership qualities are definitely a plus and will help in our dressing room. Just that overall experience, I think he's played around 20 playoff games, experience to held solidify our backend.

I had him at 15 and 16. He's a very committed young man. he's a guy who's playing for a contract or tryout. He's a guy that was drafted and now knows time is running out. He's a very competitive individual and in tremendous shape and competes very hard.


JK: You have some familiarity with him from your time in Seattle....

Dean: The one thing I said about him when he came into the league even at 16 is there were times he would bite off more than he could chew just because he was so competitive. Now that's he's 20 years old and schooled in this league he's a very a effective players.


JK: What about R.J. Larochelle? What led to his departure to Vancouver?

Dean: The biggest thing with RJ was his health and not knowing the foreseeable future. I just wasn't comfortable as our group wasn't in taking that chance and potentially being down to six defenseman a month in or in the playoffs. I hope I'm wrong on that, hopefully RJ can stay healthy but we weren't prepared to take that risk.

I've had numerous conversations with RJ, discussion about concussions about what I went through that forced my retirement. He has to look at it long term and the affects that may happen, how long he could potentially play hockey or not play hockey and he took the Christmas break to make a decision. The one thing that came out of it is that he still wanted to give it a go and I had made it clear to him there was the potential we may have to make a decision if we're not comfortable with where it's at.

We've had a number of talks the last few days and it's never easy. I commend RJ for what he's done for our organization. Hopefully he can stay healthy for Vancouver.

Some sound clips will be on the sports tomorrow on our three local radio stations about today's pair of deals.

Here's my take on Bretton Stamler in what I've seen in the four head-to-head meetings against the Oil Kings.

- He's a competitor. He will give you his all every night and is a reliable guy to have on the ice.

- He's not afraid to drop the gloves and will provide that if need be.

- He's a WHL veteran of over 300 games and has playoff experience with his time in Seattle. Dean coached him for a pair of years and has a lot of familiarity with him.

- Detroit obviously saw some upside. They drafted him in the 7th round back in 2005. We all know Detroit is one of the top drafting teams in the NHL.

- He's durable. Twice in his WHL career he's played the maximum 72 games.

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The downside is all of this is the departure of R.J. Larochelle to the Vancouver Giants. R.J. will make his debut with them Friday in Regina as the G-men begin their east division roadswing. The Giants make their last stop of the trip in Swifty Saturday, January 19th.

Best of luck to R.J. He was popular amongst his teammates and provided the Broncos with some gritty service since being acquired at the deadline back in January of 2005 in the Tyler Redenbach deal.

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Are the Broncos done? I'm sure Dean will continue to be busy right up until 4pm tomorrow but word is the asking price for players remains very high. We will keep a close eye on the action.

There's word Moose Jaw and Regina continue to squabble over a big name player in the Western Conference. I won't get into specifics but it appears both teams aren't done just yet.

Robin Figren has kyboshed a move to Regina. He will more than likely finish out his WHL career in Edmonton.

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Broncos Get Stamler, Say Good Bye to R.J,

The Swift Current Broncos hooked up with the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Vancouver Giants in a pair of deals this afternoon.

The Broncos have traded a 3rd Round pick in the 2008 Bantam Draft to the Oil Kings in exchange for 20 year old defensemen Bretton Stamler.

“With the uncertainty on our back end we felt we needed to add another veteran defensemen with playoff experience”, commented Broncos General Manager/Head Coach Dean Chynoweth. “Bretton will fill this need and provide our group with strong leadership and passion to win that will be required in the second half and playoffs.”

With this move the Broncos have traded 20 year old defensemen R.J. LaRochelle to the Vancouver Giants for future considerations.

Wudrick to Play in Top Prospects Game / Five Broncos Crack NHL's Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings

Broncos forward Geordie Wudrick is amongst a group of 14 players from the WHL who will play in the Home Hardware CHL Top Prospects game in Edmonton January 22nd. He will play alongside Steven Stamkos for Team Red. Here are the rosters:


2008 Home Hardware CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game - Rosters

Team Red

Forwards
A.J. Jenks, Plymouth Whalers
Philippe Cornet, Rimouski Oceanic
James Wright, Vancouver Giants
Geordie Wudrick, Swift Current Broncos
Steven Stamkos, Sarnia Sting
Patrice Cornier, Rimouski Oceanic
Kelsey Tessier, Quebec Remparts
Phil McRae, London Knights
Mikkel Boedker, Kitchener Rangers
Mikhail Stefanovich, Quebec Remparts
Jordan Eberle, Regina Pats
James Livingston, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Defencemen
Drew Doughty, Guelph Storm
Alex Pietrangelo, Niagara IceDogs
Colten Teubert, Regina Pats
Michael Del Zotto, Oshawa Generals
Luca Sbisa, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Jyri Niemi, Saskatoon Blades

Goaltenders
Chet Pickard, Tri City Americans
Kevin Poulin, Victoriaville Tigres

Team White

Forwards
Kyle Beach, Everett Silvertips
Josh Bailey, Windsor Spitfires
Chris Doyle, PEI Rocket
Joel Champagne, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Cody Hodgson, Brampton Battalion
Jamie Arniel, Sarnia Sting
Maxime Sauve, Val-d’Or Foreurs
Mitch Wahl, Spokane Chiefs
Zack Boychuk, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Tyler Ennis, Medicine Hat Tigers
Jared Staal, Sudbury Wolves
Greg Nemisz, Windsor Spitfires

Defencemen
Colby Robak, Brandon Wheat Kings
Tyler Cuma, Ottawa 67’s
Yann Sauve, Saint John Sea Dogs
Zach Bogosian, Peterborough Petes
Tyler Myers, Kelowna Rockets
Luke Schenn, Kelowna Rockets

GoaltendersPeter Delmas, Lewiston MAINEiacs
Thomas McCollum, Guelph Storm

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A quintet of Broncos have been listed on the NHL's Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings.

Geordie Wudrick tops the list ranked 69th amongst North American Skaters. Matt Tassone and Jan Dalecky go back-to-back at 108th and 109th. Eric Doyle, who was remarkably passed over at last summer's draft, cracks the rankings again at 196th.

Bronco's rookie goaltender Ian Curtis is ranked 14th amongst North American goaltenders.

Kyle Beach remains the #1 WHL prospect. He's ranked #4th amongst N.A. skaters. Steven Stamkos of the Sarnia Sting remains #1 on the list.

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From One Chynoweth to Another....

Dean's trade deadline thoughts are a post below.

Here's what Kootenay G.M. Jeff Chynoweth told Jeff Bromley of the Kootenay Advertiser....

(from www.jeffbromley.blogspot.com )

"The seven-year GM (Chynoweth) of the Ice admits he could use some help, notably on the blueline, but at the inflationary prices across the WHL for even mid-range help he’s not going to bother throwing the club’s future away. “Astronomical,” said Chynoweth of the asking prices among the teams looking for help in the future. “We don’t have the assets to make the big deal and give up young prospects like some of the other teams do. We just don’t have the depth.”

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Broncos Down Raiders / Dean Talks Deadline /

I'll kick off this lengthy post with a quick recap of last night's 5-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders before more trade deadline news and notes.....

The Broncos used three shorthanded goals including two within nine seconds in the 3rd period to down the visiting Raiders 5-1 at the Credit Union I-plex. The win was the Broncos first of the season against the P.A. in five attempts. The win also puts the Broncos on a three game winning streak for the third time this season. They've yet to win four in a row, they'll try to reach that mark Friday night in Brandon.

The Broncos first shorthanded goal courtesy Matt Tassone at 14:56 of the 2nd period broke a 1-1 tie and was the turning point as the game was played pretty event until that point.

Zack Smith scored his first of two at 16:32 of the 2nd to give the Broncos some insurance heading into the 3rd period.

Back-to-back shorthanded goals from Zack Smith and Cody Eakin just nine seconds apart at 7:12 and 7:21 spelled the end for the Raiders. For Eakin, it was his first game back since Novemeber 23rd. He missed 16 games with a concussion in that time.

Travis Yonkman made some good saves and posted a 21 save performance for the win in goal.

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We had a visit from Broncos Head Coach / G.M. Dean Chynoweth in our post game show last night and he updated the latest on the trade deadline front. Ryan Switzer and I double barrelled him with questions in the Buffalo Brew Pub Broadcast Booth. Here's some of the highlights:

JK: First of all, what are your thoughts on a couple of big moves by the Warriors and Pats?

Dean: Well they definitely made a statement there's no doubt. I think both teams improved immediately. Whenever you bring in veteran guys and aren't giving up present roster players or impact people it's going to be a benefit.

You look around there's been lots of jockeying for position of who's after who and again of what the price is. We've talked about this around Christmas in regards to how high the prices were. I said to you I figured they would come down at the deadline, they didn't. The one thing you can attribute to that is that there are a lot more sellers than in the past. Also, there was a lot of big moves made early in the season.


Ryan: What's the Broncos trade deadline mindset? Buyers? Sellers?

Dean: We're in a buying mode. There's no bones about that. We've been on the other side for the last three years. I really like our group. I really like our forwards. I think we will have to assess our backend and how we can shore that up and also have some depth up-front.

There's moves to be made obviously some of the ones that have been done we were in but didn't get the prize in the end. That's a case of where the prices were and I'm not prepared to pay some of the prices of the guys they wanted from our team.

I think collectively as a group we have to play better defense. Whether we have to add a body, maybe two... that's always a possibility. I like our group and drastic change isn't going to happen. We will see over time how it produces with those other two teams (Regina/Moose Jaw). There is a fine line to the number of changes you make also.


Ryan: Take us through what it takes to make a deal as a General Manager. I don't want to take the veil off of being a WHL G.M. and I don't think you want to either. Is it difficult to make a deal this time of year from your perspective?

Dean: Well it's not difficult. There's an on-going rapport amongst GM's and conversations. Certain ones you talk to a little more and ones you know are in the selling mode. Touching base with them seeing what the price would be, what they need... we know the depth charts in the league of each team of where they have strengths and weaknesses.

It's not a matter of just going out and making a deal there's a lot of conversations that go back and forth and each side wants to think they want to win the deal.

The one thing I learned from a very good General Manager in Seattle in Russ Farwell was you have to pitch deals that make sense for both sides.


JK: Dean, a big question mark is the condition of over-age defenseman R.J. Larochelle. What's the latest on his situation. The Broncos may have a tough decision to make in the coming days.

Dean: He's skating now and that's a good sign so he is practicing. We are going to have to evaluate it again here the next couple days and make a decision of what direction we're going to go.

The unfortunate part about this deadline... I know everyone speculates and wants to know things right away.... they are kids. We have 22 kids in that room that bleed the blue and white. This isn't an easy time for them. On the other side this is a business and at times you have to do things to make your organization better and we've been committed to doing that.


JK: Do you expect the prices of a stay at home defenseman to come down as the deadline approaches?

Dean: Well it could... but the more time you spend with me on the radio the less times I have to work the phones.......

And with a laugh we cut it off there and let Dean get back to work......

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Monday, January 07, 2008

What Now? / East Division Prediction

There are some questions that need to be asked around these parts.....

What are the Broncos plans at the deadline now that three teams within the conference - all with a legitimate chance of facing the Broncos in round one - have loaded up and declared "full speed ahead"?

Have we been beaten to the punch or is it simply posturing, perhaps a sell off?

I've noticed a lot of Bronco fans hit the panic button today after another team in the conference loaded up. I'm here to say simmer down.....

The Broncos would NEVER pay that price for what we've seen in Moose Jaw. No way. Essentially it amounts two first round picks for Ty Wishart (4 month player at most) and a 3rd rounder.

Im not here to say it's a bad deal. Not at all. Chad Lang had the nuts to go out and create some excitement around an otherwise good...not great team. Are they better today than yesterday? Without a doubt. Could a long playoff run jump start the new proposed arena? Most definitely.

The Warriors have been in a virtual cold war arms race with Regina all season long. This puts them in position to compete for a division title. And, you heard it here first folks....pending another blockbuster, the Warriors will be east division champs and at the very least the 2nd seed in the conference hitting the post-season.

This isn't based on the acquisition of Ty Wishart although that helps. It's based on the remaining schedule the Warriors have left. It's by far the easiest of any contender in the conference. Here's the breakdown and other notes to support this:

- The Warriors have 32 games left, four more than Regina, even with Brandon and two more than the Broncos.

- Of their 32 games 19 are at home and 13 are on the road.

- Of those 32 games they play Saskatoon (4 times), Prince Albert ( 3 times), Red Deer (2), Edmonton (2). For the record they play the Broncos six times for better or for worse.

- There isn't a remaining schedule that can hold a candle to the Warriors. I don't mind the Broncos sked either but it's nowhere near what the Warriors have in the final 10 weeks.

While we're talking schedules, the Kootenay Ice easily have the hardest road to travel. Five left against Calgary, four with Medicine Hat, two with Spokane and two longer road swings to boot.
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The Pats, Warriors and Hitmen have thrown caution to the wind. They've made the statement it's their year to run. So, what's the Broncos next move?

First and foremost we need to know the condition of 20 year-old overage defenseman R.J. Larochelle. How long term is his injury? Is it season ending? If it is, then R.J.'s spot may be needed Thursday for another overage defenseman. Fans have been asking the question for awhile now. Best case scenario is that RJ will be ok and he can finish his WHL career with his hometown team.

This is the WHL though and with it comes a business side and tough decisions. Case in point: In Kelowna, the Rockets are openly talking about releasing their 20 year-old captain and heart and soul in James Mcewan because of what's a a long term injury to his arm after a deep gash from a skateblade severed two tendons.

Either way, something needs to be decided. And if you take stock in message board rumours than get excited. If not, than conitnue on as is.

I'm not expecting the Broncos to be overly active at the trade deadline but let's make no mistake, there is a ton of pressure on General Managers around the league to do something after three or four major moves already. Some of the major players have been scooped up but there's more out there. (Go back a few posts to see a list)

I've come to learn to expect the unexpected though. There could be major movement with some high end players coming and going in Broncoland. It's fun to speculate but the decisions will be made in the end by Broncos Head Coach / G.M. Dean Chynoweth and when they happen they'll be on this site first.

Stay tuned,

Jon

Wishart to the Warriors

Here's the press release.

The Prince George Cougars have traded 19 year old D Ty Wishart, 19 year old F Evan Fuller, and a 2008 3rd Round Bantam selection to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for 16 year old C Justin Maylan, 18 year old RW Brad Riege and a 2008 1st Round Bantam selection.

Maylan, a 6’0”, 155 lbs. product of Calgary, AB, has recorded 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, and 8 PIM in 20 games played with the Warriors this season. Maylan also suited up for Team Pacific in the 2008 World U-17 Hockey Challenge this past December in London, Ont. , registering 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, and 6 PIM in 6 games.

Riege, a 6’2”, 200 lbs. native of Stoughton, SK, has tallied 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, and 59 PIM in 35 games with Moose Jaw this season.

“Ty leaves the Cougars with an extremely bright pro career ahead of him. We wish both him and Evan success with their new team”, says Cougars General Manager Dallas Thompson. “

“By acquiring a good, young talent in Maylan and an 18 year old RW in Riege, and by securing a 1st Round selection in the 2008 Bantam Draft, we feel we have made the transaction needed to help improve our team for the future”, finishes Thompson.

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It seems like Calgary, Regina and Moose Jaw have all raised the flag that they are going for it. I like Moose Jaw's veteran line-up and I think they made the move to keep up with the Jones' down the road in Regina.

The Pat and the Warriors in the first round would be unbelievable. Could you imagine those two big physical clubs going at it in a best-of-seven?

Enough talent traded to the east division already. What a dog fight down the stretch.

Will this alter the Broncos plans? We will have to wait and see.

Jon