Monday, March 31, 2008

Playoff Run Great for Bottom Line

I had a sit down chat with Broncos Assistant General Manager Elden Moberg today.

I was working on another angle to the playoffs beyond the goals and saves, wins and losses. We talked $$$.

In the past, according to Moberg, a home playoff game in the "old days" before the rink expansion meant around $20,000 per game to the teams bottom line.

After three home games this post-season, the Broncos have netted about $30,000 to $35,000 per home ice appearance. A decent increase powered by two near sell-outs in games three and four of the series with Regina, and then a sold-out game six.

If you do the math, this year's playoffs have added about 100k to the team so far minus road playoff expenses.


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The team held a light skate yesterday as they get they recover from a physical battle with the Pats. It was good to see Erik Felde up and walking around. He's off the crutches after blocking that shot in game five.

Several of the veteran players are loving this time off. Bretton Stamler gave me a big smile when I asked him how important almost a week between games will be for him.

Round one concludes tonight. My buddy Regan Bartel and the Kelowna Rockets are fighting to advance through seventh heaven in Seattle. Whoever wins the series will get Tri-City in round two...



Quick Hit...

I love predictions.... not so much mine but others.

Here's one I saw heading into the playoffs from the Calgary Herald's John Down:

"Regina vs. Swift Current: If Pats play a robuts game, they can sweep"
I think he meant to say "robust" but that's besides the point.

I love going to Calgary for games at the Saddledome. My favorite part? Sitting in the media room having someone from one of the two big papers talk my ear off about how good Calgary is.

Nevermind asking me about the Broncos.... could care less.

The Broncos last went into Calgary on a nine game winning streak in February. I quietly drank my coffee and poured over the gamenotes while a couple beat reporters rambled on "Calgary this, Calgary that".

You don't have to tell me they're good. I know. I've seen them play several times. Depth, coaching, a rockstar blueline....

Three hours later and short five regulars from the line-up, the Broncos made it 10 in a row....

Stop the presses... breaking news! The Broncos are pretty good too.

Broncos/Hitmen on Shaw

This just in...

Shaw TV will carry the Broncos and Hitmen series in round two.




What's the Angle Here?

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.

Now what?

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.
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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.


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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....

Jon

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Broncos To Play Calgary

Calgary takes out Moose Jaw in six games tonight.

It's unconfirmed, but the Broncos may open this series on home ice because of the Juno Awards at the Saddledome. We should know more tomorrow.

I'll post some Calgary thoughts tomorrow.

The Broncos are the last Saskatchewan team standing with the elimination of Moose Jaw.

Sweet Victory

Well, I'm glad that's over.

What a roller-coaster series with momentum shifts and swings at every turn. In the end, the Broncos skill and speed shone through the bigger more physical Pats. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, almost unbearable for Bronco fans.

How tense was that final 16 minutes?

A jammed Credit Union I-plex erupted on the empty-netter from Dale Wiese. Relief, excitement, passion. This is why we love it, and hate it sometimes too.

What a series, and credit the Regina Pats. They didn't want their season to end in round one and are disappointed without a doubt. They put in a great effort and losing to the this Broncos team is nothing to be ashamed about.


Many outside of this series are calling this an upset. Don't believe it for a second. The Broncos and Pats were two of the best teams down the stretch in the Eastern Conference. As fate would have it, they also would meet in the playoffs.

The Broncos wanted this match-up heading into the post-season. Going as far to actually say it publicly. At times in this series, I wondered if they thought they bit off more than they could chew. The Pats looked dangerous in game one. I've never seen a team play more physical than the first eight minutes of the series opener.

Three big moments stand out for me.

1) Travis Yonkman's stick paddle save in overtime on Jordan Eberle
2) Dale Wiese's eventual double OT winner in game four to even the series
3) Derek Claffey reaching behind his goaltender to save a sure goal, only to have the Broncos score on the ensuing rush up the ice in the third period of game five.

Take your pick as the series turning point.

It should also be pointed out the Broncos won this series without two of their top four d-men for seven man games. The Bronco "D" deserves some props for stepping up. Unsung guys like Derek Claffey, Ryan Molle and Spencer McAvoy should take some credit.

The media in Regina is going to target Linden Rowat. It's the nature of the beast. The Pats goaltender wasn't at his best in games five and six. But look at the shots that beat him last night before getting pulled. A Cody Eakin laser from the slot. Dale Wiese on a breakaway. A Geordie Wudrick deflection in front on the powerplay. Those were not softies.

Also, with Jeff Bosch coming in and stealing the show for the last 53 minutes, there's even more red meat for the media carnivores to chew on.

Instead, I hope they focus on the fact these two teams went at it for six games. It was a war. Give credit where it's due instead of lambasting the Pats 'tender.

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Apparently I'm not a good motivator.

I learned during the series that Pats Head Coach Curtis Hunt was pulling excerpts from this blog and posting them in the Pats dressing room. Not sure exactly what was used but I'm flattered.

Here's a coach who has won two World Junior gold medals who actually put some stock in what I have to say. Either that or he's looking for any edge to get some extra jump from his guys.

Curtis and I had a great pre-game interview before game six. His voice raspy from the night before. As he put it heading into game six, "it's ok, I'll be alright because there's not much left to say".
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If Calgary wins tonight, the Broncos and Hitmen will lock it up in round two regardless of the Brandon/Lethbridge result. Because of the Juno awards in the Saddledome, the Broncos will likely open up the series on home ice for games one and two before going to Calgary for three straight mid-week.

Here's your other round two playoff scenarios:

If Moose Jaw and Lethbridge win, the Broncos will play Kootenay
If Moose Jaw and Brandon win, the Broncos will play Brandon

The Broncos can't play Lethbridge or Moose Jaw in round two.

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I ran into the Brandon Wheat Kings and their staff at Houstons Pizza yesterday. They were passing through en-route to Lethbridge while I was having lunch with family.

Kelly McCrimmon was interested in our series and Assistant Coach Dwyane Gylywoychuk was surprised to see me take a break from blogging. I told them they would something to read when they check into their hotel.

They have a big game six tonight as they try to force a game seven Monday.

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The week off will be a big benefit to the Broncos. It will buy some time for the bumps and bruises. Erik Felde should play at some point in round two. Jesse Dudas remains a question mark. I would wager his playoffs aren't done.

The last 48 hours has been good to the Broncos and their fans. The organization is on a roll. New look building, exciting team, sold-out playoff games and now a little post-season success.

Things are looking up.

Pack your bags for round two.

Jon

Broncos In Six

Update coming, just gathering my thoughts....

Great series.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Broncos Look to Clinch Series at Home

With the chants of " Let's Go Broncos " ringing in my ears from last night at the Brandt Center, I will attempt to blog something words won't do justice.

The Broncos - half on their account, the other half on some sloppy play from the Pats, moved one win a away from taking this opening round series.

So many little story lines from last night...

Michael Wilson's inspired play as he got back in the line-up after missing all of this series. Bronco fans filling the Brandt Center giving it an almost home ice feel.

Erik Felde being carted off on a stretcher telling the guys to " go get'em " as he popped his head up to glance towards the Broncos bench and their plethora of fans. It sounds like Felde is better than first thought. That's a relief.

The Broncos penalty kill which may have been the difference scoring two shorthanded goals. Or killing off six straight penalties as the Broncos ended up on the short end of a 10-5 powerplay advantage.

I know the Broncos by no means feel this series is over. It was the first thing they addressed in their post-game meeting according to Assistant Coach Tim Kehler.

Did you catch our Coaches Show? Tim Kehler was at his best. Not once did he down play the importance of our fans at the Brandt Center.

Levi Nelson had an outstanding third period, first banging home a centering feed from Keegan Danereau just seconds after Derek Claffey cleared a puck rolling ominously towards the Broncos goal line. Nelson added an insurance marker on an unscreened long wrister that squeaked between the legs of Linden Rowat. Geordie Wudrick added an empty netter in the final minute for the 6-3 win.

Our fans stayed around and made noise from the final buzzer to about a half an hour afterwards. Relishing in the game five win.

Again, they made CKRM's Rod Pedersen's life difficult as they cheered loud during their on-ice post-game show. Rod handled it well. He waited for things to die down before going on the air but our fans continued to make noise during the show. Not sure what I would do in that situation.

The Bronco fans then started chanting our names "SWITZER, SWITZER, SWITZER" and " KEEN, KEEN, KEEN", as they pointed up to our broadcast location. Ryan and I acknowledged them, and all it did was spur them on to make more noise. No harm intended, but we felt the need to acknowledge our die hard fans who made the trip. I felt bad for the CKRM post-game show though. Trying to conduct their business with that in the background must have been a tough task. Then again, you make make your bed, and you must sleep in it. It's all in good fun, and I know our fans were just letting out some steam.

Game six tonight. Pats Assistant Coach Terry Perkins says the Broncos will see the Regina Pats best tonight. I would tend to think he's right.

This series is far from over folks, the last one is always the toughest.

We're on the air at 7pm with the pre-game show. Face-off at 7:30pm.

Talk at you then,

jon

It Ain't Over Yet

Just a warning Bronco fans... it takes four to win a series.

What a game!

Our fans are awesome. They powered the Broncos to a big 6-3 win, taking a 3-2 series advantage back to home ice. Loud and proud all night. Their emotions spilling over post-game.

No time to blog a recap tonight.... tomorrow though.

Tonight's game could have been derived straight off a hollywood movie script including Erik Felde being wheeled off in a stretcher as he gave the thumbs up and the " go get'em boys" to the bench in the third period.

Felde suffered a leg injury and will be re-evaluated Saturday. He made it back for the post-game meal and got a big cheer from the guys.

How can you not like this team?

More tomorrow,

jon

p.s. Shout out to Klotzy... what the heck man?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day Around Regina...

Four of the team's staff hiked through downtown Regina and into the Cornwall Center in the early afternoon....

Some of us in Bronco jackets or track suits... and not a word spoken to us about the series. Just casually went about our business in the city's core.

Saw one fan in a Bronco jersey in the mall... it was the only reminisce there was actually a big series going on with a big game five tonight. Pats Fever? I can't sense it. Although the Brandt Center tonight will be jumping with fans from both sides.

Michael Wilson remains a game-time decision. He skated with the black aces this morning. So did Jesse Dudas. Dudas is trying to keep his conditioning even though he's out for the series.

Goaltending Consultant Kevin "Swanny" Swanson is roomed up with me. He's been a big part of Travis Yonkman's success this season. Yonks really takes in what Swanny has to say. Have you noticed a difference this season?

Rod Pedersen is reporting referees Pat Smith and Andy Thiessen have gotten tonight's assignment. Thiessen reffed game two, and wasn't tolerating any garbage. That's good news for the Broncos.

See you tonight,

Jon

Game Five Tonight!

The Broncos arrived last night to get settled in for game five at the Brandt Center.

The club pulled into the Brandt Center to unload just shortly after 9pm.

The team will try to gain the upper hand for the first time in this series in a building where they won game two to even the series. The home team is 2-2 in this series.

Coming into Regina I heard a lot about supposed Pats fever. Really? Pats fever? I don’t see it.
It feels like December 4th around here. Oh there’s a bit of chatter but no more than usual. Will it be a sell-out tonight? Not unless the walk up crowd is over-whelming. Too bad, this is a great series and the best of the first round.

I cracked open the LeaderPost Sports section this morning and I must say the LP led by Rob Vanstone is doing a marvellous job of covering this series. Not only is there content but quality too. The Broncos have gotten a fair shake from them. Vanstone, Harder and Switzer have done a bang-up job.

Vanstone’s opinion piece earlier this week saying the two Regina hits were punishable and that their fans need to wake up was a breath of fresh air out of the Queen City. Rob calls it like he sees it, and doesn’t have the Pats cloak around his neck. An impartial observer, and he has been great.

However, there are more laughable blogger complaints again today. Blah, blah, vicious elbow, blah, blah spear. Broken record. To me it’s a sign of a lack of confidence. To say the officiating has turned in the Broncos favour is another gut-buster. Powerplays are dead even in this series and even that in my opinion has favoured the much larger and physical Pats.

More nonsense.

What is fact though is these two teams are going to hook-up for a big game five in this series in about nine hours from now. Bronco fans are headed up in droves for this one. They will be LOUD. Let’s hope the Broncos give them something to cheer about.

More later. I’m off to set up my gear and get some pre-game interviews done, and find out the status of veteran defenseman Michael Wilson. Will he return tonight? This weekend? We will wait and see. We will have the answer on the pre-game show at 6:30pm on the Eagle 94.1 FM, play-by-play with myself and Ryan Switzer at 7.

Jon

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Latest...

The Bronco fan bus is full for game five tomorrow night but the Broncos office is taking names for the waiting list.... 773 - 1509

Here's a press release regarding game six:


Game #6 Ticket Information

The Swift Current Broncos announced today the team’s protocol for the purchase of tickets to game #6 of their first round WHL playoff series against the Regina Pats.

With the Broncos double overtime victory over the Pats last night the necessity of a game #6 back in Swift Current on Saturday, March 29th (7:30 pm start) became a reality. Tickets for game #6 are on sale now at the Broncos Store or by calling the Ticket Office at 773-1509. Season ticket holders will have until noon on Saturday to pick up their season tickets before they are released to the general public. All other tickets are on sale immediately.

The Broncos Store in the Credit Union i-plex will be open today and tomorrow 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and from 9:00 am to game time on Saturday, March 29th.

Walkup ticket prices for game #6 are:

Adults - $19
Students - $11
Children 12 and under - $9

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chalk One Up for the Good Guys

The drought stops here.

For the first time since 2004, the Broncos have a home ice playoff win - a win in dramatic double overtime fashion.

This unbelievable series is tied 2-2.

A Dale Wiese centering feed bounced off the Pats Logan Pyett and behind Linden Rowat for the game winner just shy of eight minutes into double overtime.

Four years of home-ice playoff frustration released by the near-capacity crowd. They erupted almost uncontrollably, blowing the roof off the newly renovated building.

Afterwards, there was no post-game media scrum trash-talk, no reference to horses, no player holding court to slight the opposition. Just jubilation and respect for what was another hard playoff battle.

"It's a great feeling, it's a great feeling. It's a mixture of so many emotions. You feel so great for the kids when you see their elation on the bench and the big scrum by the net. It's part relief. To go down 3-1, I don't think anyone would say it, but that was a must win on home ice." - Assistant Coach Tim Kehler

Zack Smith initially got credit for the goal but admitted in the post-game show that it belonged to his linemate.

"I'd like to think I had a little bit to do with it driving hard to the net... I was just going to the net and (Logan) Pyett was between me and the puck and I went to hit it but it went off his skate and into the net. Dale Wiese just did a great job of getting the puck to the net."

Although I would never say it on-air, it appeared all was lost for the Broncos early in this one. Down 3-1 after more powerplay success for the Pats a lack discipline and the apparent loss of Bretton Stamler for the game - it all added up to a 3-1 Pats lead in the best-of-seven series in my head.

The Broncos seemed in disarray. Down another defenseman and with one in the penalty box, 16 year-old D Joel Rogers had his first taste of this series on the penalty kill. Talk about jumping into the fire.

Stamler's return in the 2nd period seemed to spark the team.

Geordie Wudrick's powerplay goal midway through the 3rd period put the game to a 4-4 and eventually into overtime.

"The save of the series" is how Pats broadcaster Rod Pedersen described a remarkable stick paddle save from Travis Yonkman on Pats sniper Jordan Eberle in the first overtime. Eberle seemingly had the empty net to shoot at before a desperate Yonkman came across with the stick paddle. A road hockey save at it's finest circa 1992 on Foley Crescent. Make that Bantry street for Pats Assistant Coach Todd Strueby. He will know that means.

This series is getting better with every game. It IS the best series of the opening round, and everyone around the league is watching.

Game five tomorrow night back at the Brandt Center.

Other notes...

- The Broncos have been outscored 9-4 on the PP this series but have a 10-4 even strength goal advantage.

- While playoff crowds dwindle around the WHL this post-season, the same cannot be said for Swift Current. Another 2550 in the building for this contest means playoff crowds are up 29.9% this year compared to games three and four against the Pats in the '07 playoffs

Back to work this morning.... with all that adrenaline going from the double OT thriller,I laid in bed probably 'till 2am before falling asleep. It makes for a tough 4:30am wake-up call to do it all again for the morning sports / morning show.


But... it sure is a lot easier after a win.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Broncos Trail Series 2-1, Home Ice Woes Continue

Make it six in row....

That's how many home playoff games the Broncos have lost consecutively dating back to the 2004 playoffs.

J.D. Watt's powerplay goal just shy of eight minutes into overtime gave the Pats a 4-3 win in a wild contest filled with scoring chances and turnovers - which usually go hand-in-hand.

For me discipline is becoming an issue for the Broncos. Bad penalties, in the Pats offensive territory was their undoing. The Pats had another eight powerplays and scored twice as their PP continues to operate in upwards of 28% in this series.

It looked like the Broncos really missed the two veteran d-men Michael Wilson and Jesse Dudas who are out with injury. The two play in all situations - especially the powerplay which failed to execute. It had it's chances - but not near enough. It's been the difference in the series so far.

Eric Doyle, Spencer McAvoy, Bretton Stamler, Erik Felde, Dale Wiese, Derek Claffey and Ryan Molle all saw time at the point with the man advantage as the Broncos looked for the right mix to generate something.


The Broncos couldn't have asked for a better start as they held a 10-1 shot advantage just minutes into the opening frame. The Pats killed off a pair of powerplay opportunities and gained momentum after that to close off the first period. Shots were 17-15 Broncos after a wild first.

The thing that troubles me is this series is almost mirroring last years. The Pats take game one, the Broncos game two, the Pats game three. Not only that but special teams was in Regina favour by a mile last playoff series and it's holding true in this best-of-seven tilt.

If the trend continues, the Pats will take a 3-1 series lead back to home ice. They get Jordan Eberle back tonight after he missed game three with suspension.

A must win tonight? You better believe it.

Jon

Game Day!

Just popped down to the I-plex to set up my gear. Tickets were going quick as the ladies worked the phone line and the ticket desk inside the souvenir store.

Last year's crowd for game three of this series was 1927. This year's crowd will EASILY surpass that number as it heads towards a potential sell-out.

I also picked up the names of tonight's officials... Chris Savage and Devin Klein will have the duty of keeping this game in check...

Savage, a WHL veteran has seen it all. Klein has been around for awhile now too. It should be interesting to see how they handle these two teams.

Anyways, I have a ton of stuff to do today that doesn't include blogging...

Jon

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eberle Gets a Game, Leffler Gets Three...

As reported on the WHL website tonight. The suspensions in their entirety have been announced. Eberle one game, Leffler three.

The Pats plea to the league over a knee on knee hit on J.D. Watt from Zack Smith went unpunished after the Pats sent in $500 dollars and the tape - that's the fee to have the league review it, sort of a deterrent for teams not to go to the well too many times.

Watt was out for the ensuing powerplay after laying on the ice for awhile.

It's no fun being J.D. Watt right now. Every set of eyes in stripes is watching you. Insert Ryley Grantham or Frazer Mclaren.... Bronco fans would remember Brandon Tidball. Guilty before proven innocent goes with the territory with these guys. Granted Watt has more skill combined than these three players. But when you live by the sword.....

This time of year the WHL bad boys need to walk the line, or ride the pine.

Switzer is unavailable tomorrow night because of family commitments so we've recruited a big name colorman in his absence. Former Pats Head Coach and now Mr. Hockey in Swift Current Tim Tisdale will ride shotgun on the broadcast. Thanks Tissy. It should be fun...

G'night,

Jon

Suspensions Partially Announced

Honestly, this blogging thing is becoming a full time job... check that, talking about this series has been a full time job.

Requests have poured in around the league to get the take on what's going on between the Broncos and Pats and the two hits which will see Brett Leffler and Jordan Eberle miss game three (at the very least). Radio shows in Calgary, Moose Jaw and Regina all want the Broncos take on it. Tomorrow afternoon the Wolf's Chad Hansen (an old college buddy) wants to do a bit on his afternoon show....

So, the league has announced indefinite suspensions for both Pats players. Can we move on now? Not likely.

I wish both teams had their best players available to them, sadly it's not the case and this is what we're left with. In a perfect world, all four players would be a part of game four.

It's too bad the Broncos defenseman will be out presumably longer than the two Pats players but that's hockey and it's all part of the adversity of the players.

I've now heard the Pats have sent a kneeing minor penalty clip assessed to Zack Smith on J.D. Watt under supplemental discipline. They want the league to suspend the Broncos captain. Who knows on this one? I saw the penalty occur. The boards blocked my view of the actual contact. I don't know. I do know Watt was out moments later to work the powerplay.

Every hit from here on out in this series is going to be under the microscope. Who knows, this could be the tip of the iceberg.

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All this talk has pushed blog hits to a record number today (approaching 600 already ). Thanks Regina. They've played a huge role in today's activity without question.

For those coming down tomorrow night, drive safe. A flash snowstorm began this afternoon across the City and continues here at 6:30pm.

**Also my colorman has put his blog back in business. Ryan Switzer is again posting at http://www.ryanswitzer.blogspot.com/ . It's about time Switz, shouldering the Broncos media load is becoming a bit much after the recent events in this series.

Jon

Wallin Takes Over Rebels Bench

Brent Sutter, Owner/President of the Red Deer Rebels Hockey Club, announced today that Brian Sutter has resigned from his position as Head Coach. Sutter leaves after one season behind the bench. Jesse Wallin has been named the new Head Coach of the Rebels.

He was the team’s Associate Coach last year and was an Assistant Coach in the previous two years for Brent Sutter. Wallin played with the Rebels from 1994-98 and then had a six year professional career. He becomes the 7th Head Coach in team history.

Brent Sutter – “This past week Brian and I had discussions about his personal commitments and the amount of time that’s needs to be put into the Head Coaching position for this upcoming season and for the future. At the conclusion of those discussions, it was mutually agreed upon that he would resign as Head Coach for the proper direction of the hockey club. We both felt that Jesse was the right man to take over the coaching reigns. I’m very excited for Jesse to take over as Head Coach and continue moving forward in the direction that this hockey club needs to go in. Jesse was my Assistant Coach for two years, and was the Associate Coach for Brian this past season; during that period of time he showed me the qualities that are needed to be the Head Coach. ”

Jesse Wallin - “I’m extremely excited and honored for the opportunity to become Head Coach of this proud franchise. I’m looking forward to the upcoming challenge of getting this hockey team back to being an elite club in the Western Hockey League.”

Dallas Gaume will remain as the Rebels Assistant Coach and Andy Nowicki will remain as the Rebels Goaltending Coach.

Waiting Game / Alex 08 Update

Today will be a day of waiting for both teams for a couple reasons...

Waiting to get game three underway as the teams begin a stretch of potentially playing four games in five nights, and waiting to see what the WHL will decide to do on a pair of hits from the first two games of this series.

Sadly, it's taken over the talk around the best-of-seven. Brett Leffler and Jordan Eberle will learn their fate sometime later today more than likely.

The Broncos will also get a status update on injured defenseman Michael Wilson and Jesse Dudas. It's not something they will be sharing though. It's the playoffs and a whole new set of rules takes over in that regard.

If any word is heard out of the league office I'll post it.

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On a lighter note, the Broncos playoff cat dubbed "Alex 08" will have a home at the end of the playoff run.... it's original one.

What a good news story this has turned out to be. The Broncos took in this cat which was hanging around the construction zone of the I-plex. They fed it, took care of it and gave it a name. Their plan was to give it to a willing family after the playoffs.

Turns out, the cat is that of our radio stations General Manager. Her cat went missing late last year and made it's way to the I-plex.

Our G.M. went down to the Broncos dressing room and identified it yesterday.

She has graciously allowed the Broncos to keep "Sasha" until the end of the playoffs.

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Press Release:

Pizza Hut Fan Bus Heads To Regina for Game 5

The Swift Current Broncos announced today that the team will be offering a Pizza Hut Playoff Fan Bus to Regina on Friday, March 28th for Game #5 of the first round match-up between the Broncos and Pats.

The bus is available for a cost of $50 and will once again include transportation to and from Regina, a ticket to the game, and pizza courtesy of Pizza Hut. The bus will depart at 3:45 pm on Friday afternoon and will arrive back in Swift Current at approximately 12:00 am barring Game #5 being extended into overtime.

To sign up for the bus contact the Broncos Ticket Office at 773-1509 or stop by the Broncos Store at the Credit Union i-plex. The signup sheet will also be available at the Broncos Store during games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.


Press Release:

The Swift Current Broncos have announced there are still tickets available for games 3 and 4 of the Broncos 1st round WHL playoff series versus the Regina Pats. The Broncos will host the two games on Tuesday, March 25th and Wednesday, March 26th after they split games 1 and 2 with the Pats in Regina this past weekend.

Season ticket holders have until today at 5:00 pm to claim their tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday. Unclaimed season tickets will go on sale to the general public tomorrow morning at 9:00 am.

Walkup ticket prices for the 1st round of the 2008 WHL Playoffs are:

Adults - $19
Students - $11
Children 12 and under - $9

To purchase your tickets please stop by the Broncos Store or call the Ticket Office at 773-1509.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good to be Home...

After a quick rip down the TransCanada back to Swift it was nice to get back and get home after an adventurous weekend in Regina.

Forget the drama on the ice, there was plenty off it as well.

Friday night Ryan and I went for a quick walk for a bite to eat after the game. We didn't get far from out hotel until we heard a man yelling and a woman screaming a block ahead on Victoria. This guy was getting all physical and tough with her in an awful looking domestic dispute. He pushed her hard to the cement sidewalk. Ouch.

She saw us and asked for help and Ryan and I stepped in. The thoughts of "Canada's Most Dangerous City" crossed my mind... I don't want to get stabbed over this. We had some words for the guy and calmed down the girl. We let the authorities take it from there. We weren't the only ones who saw this disturbing display.

On a lighter note, I was visiting my best friend and his wife along with their twin boys a couple hours before game one. One of the little guys was sitting on my knee when he reached up with his hand and put a vice grip on my glasses snapping them into two pieces....

A little crazy glue and some attention got them through the weekend.... close call.

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On the ice, the Broncos got a big third period effort to come from behind and pull even with the Pats in the best-of-seven series with a 5-3 win.

The concern around the team is on Jesse Dudas and Michael Wilson after being injured in the first two games.

In our pre-game show, Broncos Head Coach and G.M. Dean Chynoweth commented on the Leffler hit on Wilson from game one which resulted in an indefinite suspension to the Pats power forward.

" It was vicious and an intent to injure. After reviewing it today (Saturday) and talking with the league office back and forth I thought it was an awful hit. Losing your number one defenseman 10 seconds was a real big blow not only 5-on-5 but on the powerplay."

Compound that with Eberle's hit on Dudas last night and the emotions multiply. The Broncos have seen two of their top four defenseman go down on suspension worthy hits.

These guys play for our enjoyment and create so much emotion and passion for fans on both sides. It's how thousands of fans spent their weekend. This is their entertainment.... including mine. To see two guys go down with serious injuries for the sake of entertainment and a little city and team pride makes me ill. Let's put things in perspective for a second.

This is a development league first and foremost, these types of hits can't be tolerated. These guys playing for a 100 bucks a week chasing a dream. It's a tough and dangerous road. These players deserve our respect. If was the parent of one of these players I don't know if I could watch. How do you do it?

It's been a hard hitting series on both accounts. No one said this was going to be easy.

It's in the league's hands now.

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The series shifts to Swift Current's Credit Union I-plex for games three and four. Home ice advantage? On paper yes, in reality not really. The Pats won all three playoff games in Swift Current last year including the game six series clincher in overtime. All three were dynamite games that could have went either way.

There isn't too many teams in the Conference that could survive two top defenseman going down with injury but both of the Pats and Broncos have great depth at that position.

Spencer McAvoy went back to defense last night while Erik Felde has proven he can do it too. He played 10-12 games on the back-end this year and played well. Joel Rogers is still waiting in the wings to get into this series as a healthy scratch although putting the young kid into this series might be like throwing him to the wolves. He hasn't played in a couple weeks and the intensity has picked up since he last suited up.

Bottom line, the Broncos will be ok, not great, but ok.

How good has the kid line been for the Broncos? Justin Dowling will more than likely get credit for the first Broncos goal giving him the playoff hat-trick. Cody Eakin has been more than you could ever ask for and Geordie Wudrick is playing great with the two rookies.

Pats colorman Al Dumba had a good line on their broadcast... "maybe these kids don't even know they're playing in a big game and are just going out and playing hockey."

Anything out of the kids is a bonus. Levi Nelson, Zack Smith, Dale Wiese, Keegan Dansereau, David Stieler, Erik Felde and Matt Tassone will all factor in before this series is done if they haven't already.

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A few Regina Pats fans were trying to yell up to our broadcast location after the game. These "grown men" actually looked like they wanted to take a run at Ryan and I. Calling us on from the concourse. Are you kidding me? All this over a hockey game. Three guys in their late 30's or 40's all decked out in Pats gear all making tough faces while throwing their arms in the air as to gesture "come on down here". At least now I have a face to go with their internet handles. Honestly Darcy....

Ryan headed down during the coaches show for a friendly chat, he wanted to have a beer with these guys... I told him be careful, we've seen enough violence for a one weekend. By the time he got down there, they were gone. Probably for the best.

Perhaps we shouldn't have responded or acknowledged them... it's like feeding a stray cat. They will just keep on comin' back looking for more. Meow.

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Just one game today, the Warriors take on the Hitmen today at the Saddledome. Hitmen radio on the Fan 960 called me yesterday. They want to talk to me in their intermission about our crazy series and the rest of the WHL playoffs.

As for today, I'm gonna relax and watch two other teams beat on each other for a change.

Happy Easter,

Jon

OMG

Warning, this WILL be a big story in the coming days.... it will be what everyone surrounding this series will talk about........


A Broncos come-from-behind 5-3 win tonight in Regina was bittersweet with the loss of defenseman Jesse Dudas for an unknown period after a check from behind from Jordan Eberle.

Wow, I just had a look at the replay of the hit... it makes me sick to me stomach almost. Maybe the worst hit of the year on a Bronco player.

Dudas had just moved the puck up ice after catching Eberle on a partial breakaway. Eberle put a shot on the lower back of Dudas and hurled him face first into the side/corner boards.

Eberle is not that type of player and doesn't have a history of that but the league office will be busy.... again.

That hit would draw a hefty suspension during the regular season. Not sure how the league will see this one. In a suspension situation, the league factors in the hit itself, the severity of the injury and the track record/reputation of the player at fault.

Just before face-off word came down from the league office that Brett Leffler had been suspended indifnetly for his opening shift high hit on Michael Wilson in game one.

The Broncos will be without two of their top four defenseman possibly for some time.

Bittersweet win to say the least.

This series is getting ugly...

I'll have a complete recap tomorrow after what was a wild weekend on and off the ice in the Queen City.

G'night,

Jon

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quick Update...Leffler Suspended.

UPDATE***

Brett Leffler suspended indefinitely by the WHL Head Office..... he won't play tonight. Neither will Mike Wilson.


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Their apparently is more fall-out to the Brett Leffler hit on Michael Wilson last night in the opening seconds.

The Broncos feel it was a head shot / high hit.

The league was presented a different look this afternoon... No word on a suspension....yet.

Jon

Pats Dictate Style in Game One

A physical, hard hitting Regina Pats team controlled the style of play last night in a 2-1 win in game one of this opening round best-of-seven.

The Pats came out and played a very hard-hitting, forget about the puck and take the man mentality for the first eight minutes of the 1st period which put the Broncos on their heels to start.

Just 14 seconds in, Brett Leffler hit Michael Wilson along the end boards on what looked like a high hit or head shot from the Broncos perspective. He left the game and didn't return. I won't disclose player injuries at this point of the season but his status tonight would be doubtful.

With the injury comes an automatic review of the hit from the league office. The Broncos know how they saw it. Now how will the league see it? Stay tuned.

Back to the game, the Broncos were not at their best but give credit to the Pats who played a complete game and didn't allow the Broncos a chance to free wheel and get speed going through the neutral zone.

The Pats converted on their first two powerplay chances while the Broncos powerplay didn't execute very well at all. They've had better days on the man advantage. Going 0/7 on the PP and not making the Pats pay for their aggressive play was in my mind the biggest factor in the outcome. A 5-on-3 for 1:29 in the 2nd period didn't result in a clear cut scoring opportunity.

Linden Rowat wasn't tested all that much in the Regina goal while Travis Yonkman was solid - especially in the third period with some big saves to keep it a 2-1 game and allowing his team a chance to come back.

So tonight the Broncos will get their PP opportunities again but they will have to take advantage of them.

If the Broncos can get a split of the opening two games, they can steal home ice and get things going in their favour possibly in games three and four back at the I-plex.

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- Bronco fans in attendance were making some good noise in the 1st period. A few go Broncos go chants could be heard across the rink. The team on the ice just didn't do enough to keep the momentum going after Zack Smith's tying goal in the first period on a nifty three way passing play with linemates Dale Wiese and Erik Felde.

- J.D. Watt had the officials in his back pocket early in the opening game. He pleaded for a penalty after being spun around in neutral ice and got it.... a late call by the officials. The Pats scored on the ensuing PP. He then took a dive in the third period on some back-pressure from Ryan Molle and drew another call. Our guys were all talking about some of the dives after the game. I've seen it countless times this season.... referees continue to take the bait, hook, line and sinker. Good for Watt I guess...

Love him or hate him, Watt was effective last night in his role. Although he took some penalties on his own account, the 20 year-old veteran is good at trying to gain any advantage possible.

- Last year it was Kyle Bortis in overtime in game two giving the Broncos a much needed split out of Regina. The Broncos will need someone to step up big tonight.


We're on the air at 6:30pm with the pre-game show, 7pm play-by-play. Talk to you then,

Jon

Friday, March 21, 2008

Back in Black

The annual playoff tradition involving hair color and styles has reached the Broncos dressing room.

A jet-black look will be unveiled tonight during tonight's National Anthem.

The guys do it as a sign of unity and to change things up a bit for the post-season. Cody Eakin has the wildest look on the squad... wait and see on that one.

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The team had a light skate this morning at the Brandt Center and by all indications the ice is good. There has been some concern the last week from the Pats regarding ice conditions but the Broncos had no complaints other than "it was a little soft". Apparently it's come a long ways in the past few days. Whether or not it holds up over three periods and possible overtime is another story.

We're on the air for the pre-game show at 6:30pm. We will do a bit of playoff round table with some help from fellow broadcasters James Gallo, Bruce Luebke and Jeff Hollick. The three will take us through the other 1st round series in the Eastern Conference.

Face-off at 7pm.... let's get this series going.

Jon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Broncos Attendance Up 10%

Press Release:

Broncos Lead WHL in Improved Attendance

The Swift Current Broncos announced that their 2007/2008 Regular Season attendance numbers were up 10% from last season. The Broncos averaged 2,092 fans per game this season, 193 people more than they did in the 2006/2007 regular season. The Broncos were the most improved team in attendance numbers in the WHL this season.

The Broncos would like to thank their fans for the continued support throughout the season. Fans are encouraged to get their playoff tickets early for Tuesday, March 25th and Wednesday, March 26th to ensure they get a seat. The Broncos sold out the 2,865 capacity Credit Union i-plex for their final regular season home game against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday, March 15th by 2:00 pm that afternoon.

Gate ticket prices for the 1st round of the 2008 WHL Playoff Broncos home games are:
Adults - $19
Students - $11
Children 12 and under - $9

To purchase your playoff tickets contact the Ticket Office at 773-1509 or stop by the Broncos Store located in the Credit Union i-plex.

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Press Release:

Playoff BBQ & Pep Rally Set for Tuesday

The Swift Current Broncos have announced that on Tuesday, March 25th, prior to the Club’s 1st home playoff game this season, they will be hosting a Playoff BBQ & Pep Rally at the Credit Union i-plex Canadian Room beginning at 6:30 pm.

Thanks to Diamond Energy Services, Veriperm, R.B. Trucking, Jaguar Oilfield Services, Cypress Motors, Johnnie’s Lunchbox and the Eagle 94.1, fans will be able to purchase beef on a bun, salad and a Coke for $5.00 prior to the game. All fans who have purchased a ticket to the game on Tuesday are invited to attend.

Also at Tuesday’s game, the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive Playoff Pride Towels courtesy of Innovation Credit Union, Extreme Pita, Cypress Hills College, Edge Realty, Bodyfit Fitness Lounge, Robertson Implements, Swift Current Mall and the Prairie Post.

Fans are encouraged to bring their cowbells and wear their Bronco blue! 2008 Broncos Playoffs…It’s our year…Whatever it takes.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guide for Regina Media

Ok to those out of town media folks in the Queen City who will shortly be consumed with all things Broncos and Pats I thought I would put together a little Broncos Tutorial. Broncos Hockey for Dummies if you will... no offense intended, just a figure of speech.

Copy and paste, pin it up in your newsroom, heck bring it to the Brandt Center or the I-plex... and feel free to reference it at any time.

It's Dale Wiese (rhymes with niece, not Dale wise or wyce). He's our leading goal scorer (29) and averaged nearly a point per game. He's physical, has a great shot and is one of the leaders on the team. He'll be turning pro more than likely next season.

Mark Guggenberger (Goo-genn-burg-er) . You may not see him in the Broncos goal this series. But if he does make an appearance, keep an eye on him. You never know what you might miss. He's a character. Leads the trash talk on and off the ice and may even give you a good quote if you're lucky and ask the right questions.

Bretton Stamler. The best interview on the team... a well spoken mature player. If you want to talk to a player who won't give you a cliche and really gives you a thoughtful answer, he's your guy. Try him out Leaderpost you won't be disappointed.

Matt Tassone (Ta-SONY) sounds just like the video game system. The Italian Stallion. He only played half a season last year but was easily the nicest surprise this campaign with 19 goals. He's the one that won't make the headlines on the Dansereau/Nelson/Tassone line but he's a huge part of it.

Cody Eakin. Yes we know he's only 16, and yes we know he's good. How good? Wait and see. He centers the Broncos third line.

Levi Nelson. He's still a pest. But he's our pest and our fans love him.

David Stieler and Jan Dalecky. (Schteel-er, Dal-ets-ski) The Kladno, CZE connection. David's English is much better this season, Janny has some work to do.

Zack Smith. The best player you've never heard of.

Ryan Molle (Molly). For all you football crazed Regina media yes he is the son of former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Bob Molle. He has a better shot and skates better than his old man though. Sorry Bob!

Erik Felde (Fel-dee) He can scoot. The only American born (skater) on the roster. Might be the fastest player in the Conference when he gets it wound up.

Tim Kehler (Kell-er). One of the more articulate coaches in the WHL. A first year WHL assistant after spending three years in Trail in the BCJHL. Ask him some questions... he would be glad to oblige. He's also a stand-up comedian in his spare time.

Media This'n' That

- No one that lives in Swift Current actually calls it Speedy Creek. Sure it sounds cool, but it's a sure sign you aren't from here.

- I've also never heard anyone from here ever call the Broncos "The Horsemen". Again, sounds cool but....

- The rink is located off the Highway 4 South exit on your way into town. It's now called the Credit Union I-plex, not the Centennial Civic Center, although everyone still slips up now and then.

- Our fans in our rink tend to get in the way of TV cameras. Not on purpose, it's just the set-up along the top railing. Not much you can do about it. If you go into the media box, then you will have some of the support beams in your way... can't win.

- Note to CTV. Can Danny McIntosh tag along next week? Great guy.

-Hey Danny Plaster from Global Regina. We haven't had a beer together since the Lethbridge days...back when you were Dan Vernon and tearing up the Top Six at Six. Maybe I'll bring a tape from our one... and only Hurricanes broadcast from '99.

- Yes the ladders up the media box can be tricky. Please don't step on anyone's head on your way down.

- Our media room is filled with fresh vegetables and Pitas pre-game. Once there, you will meet George B. He runs the joint. George may seem like an easy going, nice guy but beware.... he's one of us! When he comes to cover the games at the Brandt Center for the local Prairie Post, please make him feel welcome up on media row. Thanks.

- Tuesday night post game fun? The choices are endless. There are some great little lounges in the downtown area. Ask me for directions, heck I may even drive you there.

Enjoy the series guys....

Jon

Broncos Shutout of Awards, All-Star Teams

Not a single Swift Current Bronco on the Eastern Conference All-Star 1st or 2nd team. Also, the WHL announced their award finalists out of the Eastern Conference.... the Broncos were blanked on the ballot.

I did hear some rumblings within the league from other coaches and G.M.'s for Dean Chynoweth to the be the East nominee for Executive of the Year, instead Kelly Kisio's name was put forward. The Western Conference nominees will be announced later this week.

A complete list is available at www.whl.ca

The Latest....

The Broncos held another afternoon practice as they chomp at the bit to get this first round playoff series underway with the Regina Pats.

Broncos rookie of the year Cody Eakin is anxious to drop the puck on the opening round.

"Can't wait.... can't wait, we want to get back at them for last year. We have something to prove to them so hopefully we can come out of the weekend with both wins."

All this from a player who was a spectator in last year's playoffs as a 15 year-old call-up.

I sense a quiet confidence from this team. They have this look to them, this poise that I haven't seen for some time. No one is talking Memorial Cup... or round two for that matter. They're just focused on the Pats and the task at hand.

Everett Silvertips Head Coach Kevin Constantine once dropped a quote that I haven't forgotten.

"You tend to always focus on your team's weaknesses while only seeing the other team's greatness."

It's a comment that holds true for me anyways. Especially when you really start breaking down the match-up. I guess it's human nature to be a little cautious.

With that said, when the Broncos were all on-stage at the awards banquet and I looked up and down the row of 24 players, the veterans, the young talent, the swagger... I thought to myself, "boy this is a talented group".

In my opinion, the last Broncos team to have this much talent would have been the 2000-2001 team. The likes of Layne Ulmer, Duncan Milroy, Nathan Smith, Tim Smith, Benny Ondrus and Ian White took the Red Deer Rebels to six games in the Eastern Conference Final. The Rebels went on to win the Memorial Cup that year. The Rebels had an unbelievable squad as I recall.

The Broncos will leave tomorrow night after supper for the Queen City before checking into the hotel. I know Trina will look after us when we arrive to Regina's east side. We're looking forward to hunkering down in Bronco camp and get this playoff series underway.

My colorman Ryan Switzer will be making the trip and will join me for both playoff broadcasts from the Brandt Center.
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Broncos Head Coach and General Manager Dean Chynoweth will host the annual General Manager's Luncheon today from the Credit Union I-plex Auditorium.

He will address the crowd in attendance and take some questions following the lunch. Tickets are still available by calling the Broncos office this morning 773 - 1509.

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More quotes from the Broncos awards banquet Monday night.

Zack Smith on being named the Broncos MVP...

"It's been a long trip with the Broncos to get where I'm at now. I just stuck with it and got the opportunity that the coaching staff... especially Dean has given me. I guess I owe it all to them with where I'm at. That hard work seems to be paying off."

Dale Wiese on being named the Fans Most Popular....

"That's huge for me. I like to play for the fans, I like to go out and play a physical game. I didn't have to fight as much this year as last year, I think I've
proven myself and this year I kind of flourished in a more offensive role and I think the fans liked that."


Bretton Stamler on capturing the Leadership and Maturity Award...

"I think it symbolizes that I've grown a lot as a player since I've come into this league. I didn't really know anything, pretty immature both mentally and in my play. I've come a long ways on the ice but as also as a person.

More later....










Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Broncos Awards Banquet a Hit

Broncos Captain Zack Smith delivered a fun and entertaining speech and then took home four awards at the Broncos Awards Banquet last night inside the new Credit Union I-plex auditorium.

Nights like these are always fun as the entire Broncos family gathers including players, coaches, billets, volunteers and fans. It really gives you a sense of this club being our team. It really drives home how important junior hockey is to this city and the fans. The Broncos do a great job of putting the personal touch on the event.

It also served as a great playoff rally as players and fans alike prepare for the first round series with Regina.

Here's a list of the award winners. I hope to have pictures posted later today.

1. TOP SCORER
Winner - Zack Smith

2. FANS MOST POPULAR
Winner – Dale Weise

3. MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Winner – Matt Tassone

4. CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Winner – Dale Weise

5. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Winner – Cody Eakin

6. LEADERSHIP AND MATURITY AWARD
Winner – Bretton Stamler

7. TOP DEFENCEMAN AWARD
Winner – Michael Wilson

8. TOP DESIRE AND SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
Winner – Cody Eakin

9. HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
Winner – Levi Nelson

10. KING OF THE ROAD
Winner: Zack Smith

11. MOST SPORTSMANLIKE PLAYER
Winner – David Stieler

12. SCHOLASTIC AWARD
Winner – Geordie Wudrick

13. THREE STAR AWARD
Winners: 3rd –Dale Weise
2ndKeegan Dansereau
1st – Travis Yonkman

14. COACHES AWARD
Winner – Bretton Stamler

15. PLAYERS MOST POPULAR PLAYER
Winner – Zack Smith

16. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Winner – Zack Smith

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Voice of the Pats Rod Pedersen had my on his Sportsline show last night on 620 CKRM. Broncos Head Coach and G.M. Dean Chynoweth was out of town for family reasons so I stepped in for a quick chat.

Rod asked how our fans are reacting to another 1st round series with the Regina Pats. In the tail end of my response I added they were excited because "if they're lucky they may get some Bronco highlights on CTV Regina". A tongue-in-cheek delivered statement which is getting some play over on Rod's blog today.

The WHL panel along with Rod, Chris Hodges, and Kelly Remple shifted their focus to why the Regina Pats are hated by the rest of Saskatchewan, more specifically, southern Saskatchewan. I think they defintely did a good job of breaking down a few of the reasons. You can check it out for yourself at www.rodpedersen.com .

Even the Leaderpost wrote an article about Regina being the "Evil Empire". Not sure if they are relishing in that role our trying to shed some light on the subject. You can be the judge for yourself.

The Sportsline crew went on to talk about the Broncos motivational tactic last year of pinning up a scathing Leaderpost article in the dressing room following game one of the series. Rod Vanstone of the LP (who does a great job and is one of my favorites... love his sarcasm), pretty much called the series over after a 4-0 Pats win in game one. Pats enforcer Myles Stoesz taunting the Broncos as they left the ice no doubt added to extra motivation for game two if I recall.

Remple, from the Sportsline panel didn't think much of the LP pin-up job from Dean Chynoweth...but in the end it worked. I remember Myles Rumsey coming up to me after the game two win asking where Rob Vanstone was with fire in his eyes.

By the way Rob apparently has some sort of bold series prediction in today's edition. We will have to see what that's all about.

Just saw a flat tire on my SUV this morning... I better go attend to that...

Enjoy the weather, the playoffs are here.

Jon

Monday, March 17, 2008

All Aboard...

Press Release

Pizza Hut Fan Bus Heads To Regina for Games 1 & 2

The Swift Current Broncos Pizza Hut Fan Bus is heading to Regina to watch the Broncos battle the Pats in games one and two of the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Two separate buses will be helding to Regina with one Friday and one on Saturday. Fans can sign up for either the Friday or Saturday bus for $50 or both for $90.

Fans will receive a ticket to the game, transportation to and from the game courtesy of Excel Bus Lines, pizza courtesy of Pizza Hut and the chance to win great Broncos prizes.

The bus will depart from the Broncos Office (Credit Union i-plex) at 4:00 pm both days and return immediately following the game.

Sign up early so you don’t miss your chance to see our Broncos take on the Pats for the 2nd straight season in the 1st round. Remember to bring your cowbells and wear your Bronco blue!

To sign up, stop by the Broncos office or call us at 773-1509.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Speaking of Goals....

The Swift Current Broncos removed their fingerprints from one of the most dubious distinctions in the CHL.

The Portland Winterhawks pulled off a 3-2 upset of the Spokane Chiefs tonight to cap their season on a winning note. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the three goals was not enough to surpass the Broncos season goal total of 135 back in the 2004/05 season. The Hawks set the new benchmark with a 132 this season.

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Speaking of goals, the Broncos will close off the year leading the WHL in the amount of 20+ goal scorers with seven in total. Matt Tassone fell one shy at 19 or it could have been eight. It's quite the feat considering the Broncos had only one player in the club last year, Jeremy Schenderling.

All seven players are forwards... Dale Wiese, Erik Felde, Keegan Dansereau, Levi Nelson, Geordie Wudrick, Zack Smith and David Stieler.

Brandon finished the year with six players with 20 plus goals, Kootenay had five, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Calgary had four, Moose Jaw had three, Regina two. One of Regina's 20 goal scorers was Logan Pyett - the only defenseman in the East to reach that mark.

First Round Schedule vs Regina

Schedule is pretty much like last year's playoff series with one exception. Should the series go six games the Broncos will host on a Saturday night as opposed to a Sunday contest like last year.

#1 – Swift Current @ Regina; Friday, March 21 (7:00pm MST)
#2 – Swift Current @ Regina; Saturday, March 22 (7:00pm MST)
#3 – Regina @ Swift Current; Tuesday, March 25 (7:30pm MST)
#4 – Regina @ Swift Current; Wednesday, March 26 (7:30pm MST)
#5 – Swift Current @ Regina; Friday, March 28 (7:00pm MST) If Necessary
#6 – Regina @ Swift Current; Saturday, March 29 (7:30pm MST) If Necessary
#7 – Swift Current @ Regina; Tuesday, April 1 (7:00pm MST) If Necessary

More From Last Night

After a couple calls from friends and upset Bronco fans this morning I felt I would quickly revisit what transpired at the end of the game last night...

In a scene all too familiar involving the Moose Jaw Warriors, Bronco fans left the rink questioning the end of the game celebrating and bully tactics of the visiting team.

Broncos leading scorer Zack Smith again was forced into fighting one of the big men of the Warriors as Frazer Mclaren went after him in the corner at the final buzzer. Smith broke the 70 point mark last night but still has had to scrap the Warriors Ryley Grantham and Frazer Mclaren in the last two meetings at the I-plex.

An over-excited Terrance Dellorande left the ice slapping his stick in celebration as he jawed back and forth with fans.

We asked Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler in the postgame show about it... a candy coated response from Tim still had some bite to it...

JK: What about the way the Warriors left the ice, I don't know... I thought it was a classless act. Do you think they were taking the moral victory?

Tim: Well, it was an emotional game. It ended emotionally with our captain and Frazer Mclaren fighting it out. I think there have been a couple players on the Warriors team that have probably shown a little more emotion than they would have wanted to and didn't necessarily represent the club I think they would want to be represented.

It's a couple of kids and those things aren't directed from the bench it just kind of happens the way the players were all out on the ice together. It's disappointing but....we will see if we meet them in the Conference final I guess"

Mclaren has been at the end of the WHL rope a couple times already this season. Let's see if the league sends the Warriors a message by sitting him in the opening game of the playoffs.

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The post-game chat turned over to the Pats/Broncos first round match-up...

Assitant Coach Tim Kehler spoke on the anticipated series..."I'm not disappointed to see Regina in round one. I think it's a team we match up well against. Clearly they are team playing very well of late winning seven of eight to close off the season. We're going to have to be at our absolute best to beat them but I think our absolute best does beat them. Our kids are excited about playing them.

Jon and You and I talked about Friday, they're an easy team to dislike because they get a lot of media attention, they have a a lot of big name players and they've been at the top all year so you always want to knock off the team on the top and we have a great opportunity to do that.

Awards banquet tomorrow night... I'll try and post a recap.

Have a great Sunday folks,

Jon



Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's the Pats in Round One!

A Warrior victory to cap off the regular season ended the eight game season series between the teams with the Broncos going 6-1-0-1 vs Moose Jaw this season.

This game was by far the worst officiated game of the eight game set. Referees Russ Berdussco and Cory Maclean had a tough night. The capacity crowd of 2865were all over them for the most of the night.

The Warriors scored four goals on the powerplay, one was 5-on-3.

The Warriors were much better tonight than they were last night as Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak commented in our pre-game show that they "played not to get hurt " in Friday night's 4-3 loss.

The Broncos flooded the Warriors goal with all sorts of shots and opportunities in the third cutting the deficit from 5-2 to 5-4 on goals by Keegan Dansereau and Geordie Wudrick's 20th.

The Warriors held on to the win although the Broncos thought they tied it in the final seconds only to have the goal waved off because referee Maclean called an interference penalty away from the play negating the goal.

Shots in the third were 20-3 Broncos.... and three goal posts.

Moose Jaw came out and tried to get it started as both Frazer Mclaren and Jordan Knackstedt looked to get into scraps off the opening faceoff . A clear message the Warriors meant business.

The rough stuff settled down in the 2nd and then boiled over at the end of the game as Frazer Mclaren and Zack Smith fought at the final buzzer.

The Warriors showed little class leaving the ice. They seemed to be really celebrating the 8th seed.... Terrance Dellorande led the way in the postgame taunts. As Ryan and I have said a few times... "act like you've won before".

Moose Jaw will meet Calgary in round one.

Good luck to the Warriors and Head Coach Dave Hunchak.

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It's the Regina Pats in round one. It was announced at the I-plex post-game and the fans gave out a pretty good cheer.

Game one will be Friday night.

I put out the notion of the Broncos being the underdogs in the opening round to Assistant Coach Tim Kehler in the post-game show. Tim wasn't buying it. He feels there are really no underdogs in the opening round. With the Pats being the division champs the Broncos on paper will be deemed the underdogs even if they won the season series 4-2.

There isn't very many players left from last year's playoff battle which went to Regina in six games. The Broncos will have 12 players who saw action in the series while the Pats will have by my count 8.

Last year's series involved the media of both respective cities. The Broncos even using an article in the paper as motivation for a game two win after a lacklustre performance in the opening game. The Broncos were blasted in the article as Regina LP pretty much awarding the series to the Pats in three games. With the Regina Leaderpost and CTV Regina pumped into southwest Saskatchewan, I'm expecting our fans to have to sift through it all once again.

Pats broadcaster and fellow blogger Rod Pedersen was the verbal target of several Bronco fans. Rod resorted to Vaseline as a tactic to try and keep the fans from pounding on his media box from below when the Broncos scored. Could we see that flare up again? For the record, they pound on my box too. And they don't care if its Regina or Chilliwack we're playing. They just want to make some noise.

This match-up will have a feeling of good guys against the bad guys (from a Bronco perspective anyways). The Broncos playing the role of the cowboys in the white hats taking on the big bad villains of the conference in the black hats and handkerchiefs.

A good ol' western shootout is in the making. It should be fun.

Quick Playoff Update....

The Broncos playoff opponent is really no closer to solving today than it was heading into last night's game in Moose Jaw.

The Broncos 4-3 regulation win over the Warriors did assure the Broncos and least 7th place in the Eastern Conference and a win tonight or a Brandon regulation loss to Regina would give the Broncos 6th overall. That's as high as they can go.

As to who they may match-up with in the first round, as was the case last night, the Broncos still have five potential playoff opponents including Calgary, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Kootenay.

Calgary needs only one point in their last two games to secure first place overall and a date with Moose Jaw in the 1 vs 8 playoff match-up.

A Regina win tonight and two Calgary regulation losses would push the Pats into the #1 seed overall. Kootenay and Lethbridge can finish anywhere from 1st to 5th overall while Medicine Hat - currently in 3rd spot can only finish from 3rd to 5th because they only have one game remaining.

Clear as mud right? There will be more clarity after tonight's 11 games but the Broncos playoff opponent will not be known more than likely until after Sunday's six games.

You can check the standings for yourself:

http://whl.ca/stats/statdisplay.php?type=standings&season_id=229

Of the 16 teams in the playoffs only one match-up is set in stone. Vancouver will play Chilliwack in the #2 vs #7 slot in the Western Conference.

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The Broncos and Warriors wrap up the season against each other tonight at the Credit Union I-plex. Grand opening events begin early this afternoon and a sell out crowd of 2800+ is expected. Wow. Face-off at 7:30pm, action on the Eagle 94.1 FM begins at 7pm.

See you tonight.....

Jon

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Funeral Announcements, The Trading Post and Curling Results

Call it the big three if you will for our traditional country station in Swift Current CKSW 570.

Mess up one of the three and you'll hear about.

Yesterday I referred to Ontario's skip Glenn Howard as Russ Howard.... people go nuts for this stuff. Not sure why, it's like they're waiting for a reason to call you.

Messages like "Not sure what Brier you're watching Mr. Keen" or "Dear sirs, could you please inform your curling on-air reporter that Russ Howard is not at this year's Brier in Winnipeg"

I'm sure other sports guys at radio stations can relate a similar story.

With a distinguishably older audience, CKSW 570 is your community station complete with funeral announcements every day at 9:05am and the long time staple The Trading Post with your host Ken Audette.

An older gentleman, made his way into the station this week and got our afternoon jock to look up some information he heard on the radio.

After getting what he was looking for he left a comment to the effect of "now if you could only get your hockey broadcaster to call the games evenly without bias or favorites like they did back in the 50's life would be a better place."

These aren't his words... it was just what I gathered hearing the information 2nd hand. The man wasn't from Swift Current and had just recently moved here from B.C.

This way of thinking has gone out with the times. You work for the home team, you want them to be successful and you want the fanbase to be proud of the local team and celebrate the victories while sheltering the losses.

The game has changed, and so have the people who cover their team. Either you're in or your in the way.

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Monday night is the Broncos annual awards banquet. I'll be m.c.'ing for a fifth year at the fun event. The yearly awards will all be handed out. While I don't know this year's winners, (or want to for that matter), I thought I would at least present the potential nominees in my opinion.

MVP: Zack Smith, Dale Wiese, Travis Yonkman
Top Defenseman: Eric Doyle, Michael Wilson
Players most Popular: Zack Smith, Derek Claffey
Desire and Sportsmanship: Bretton Stamler, Cody Eakin, David Stieler
Leadership and Maturity: Bretton Stamler, Dale Wiese, Zack Smith
Humanitarian of the Year: Travis Yonkman, Levi Nelson, Geordie Wudrick, Matt Tassone
Top Rookie: Cody Eakin, Justin Dowling
Scholastic Player: ?
Top Scorer: Zack Smith
King of the Road: Dale Wiese, Zack Smith, Michael Wilson
Fans most Popular: Cody Eakin, Levi Nelson, Dale Wiese
Three Star Award: ?
Chairman of the Boards: Dale Wiese, Levi Nelson
Most Improved: Matt Tassone, Travis Yonkman, David Stieler
Most Sportsmankike: David Stieler, Justin Dowling, Geordie Wudrick
Coaches Award: Spencer McAvoy, Bretton Stamler, Zack Smith, Mike Brown, Derek Claffey

I haven't really narrowed it down too much. What do you think?

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Broncos and the Warriors tomorrow night at the Crushed Can. Not sure what to expect in this one. There is still plenty to be decided but honestly what is everyone fighting for here? 6th? or 7th?

Maybe it's a chance to get some of the younger players out there for the final weekend. Kevin Smith, Ty Ariss, Bryan Sommers and Quinton Howden for Warriors. Joel Rogers, Mike Brown, Brad Hoban, and Taylor Vause for the Broncos.

Then again who knows. Maybe there's some unfinished business here. The Broncos have won every which way possible in Moose Jaw this season: overtime, shootout and regulation. The Broncos are 5-0-0-1 vs the Warriors while conversely the Warriors could argue they are 1-1-2-2 vs the Broncos. The games have had an edge and this will in no way be a "mail it in" final two games for either hockey club.

It is my opinion that the Warriors may want to avoid an all out war with Regina in the 1st round and take their chances with a Calgary or Lethbridge. It's also my belief the Broncos want the Pats in round one. They wouldn't say it publicly though.

The match-up just makes sense. Division rivals, travel distance, a 4-2 record in the regular season and a feeling of wanting to be "that team" to knock off the Pats.

Regina has a target of them from the rest of the Conference for one reason or another. It's something they probably have no apologies for and why would they? They are the East division champs. But in my dealings with other coaches and GM's around the east. They all want to be "that team".

You could make a case either way good or bad to match-up in the first round with your Eastern Conference opponent.

Here goes:

Calgary - Scary depth, hard working and skilled / goaltending? Recent slump to close off the season has to be concerning.
Regina - Gritty, veteran laden, solid top six defense / only one pure goal scorer. Sometimes prone to self-destruction
Lethbridge - Scary group of speedy, shifty forwards, solid blueline and goaltending / Still a year away from being a powerhouse. Grit will be tested in the post-season
Kootenay - Nearly unmatchable top six forwards / back-end lacks depth
Medicine Hat - Well coached, hard working. Tough place to win on the road / Younger team. Lacking secondary scoring
Brandon - Great group of forwards, well coached team / injury problems on the back-end. Goaltending ?
Swift Current - maybe the fastest team in the Conference, Puck-moving mobile defense, solid 1-2 punch in goal / Grit and toughness will be questioned. Lacking playoff experience
Moose Jaw - big physical, wear you down team. Four balanced lines / Most penalized team, goaltending has struggled lately

My point here is that you can always find a team's strengths and their weaknesses if you look hard enough for it.

Whatever happens, it should be a great 1st round.

Jon