Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Porter Talks Draft Day

Swift Current Broncos Director of Player Personnel Jamie Porter spoke with us this week on the Broncos plan for the WHL bantam draft. It begins tomorrow morning in Calgary.

The Broncos are said to have a lock on a player with the 12th overall pick. We'll see if it pans out tomorrow morning.

Here's some highlights of the transcript:



JK: What's the draft depth like Jamie? How's the crop of '93s?

JP: We felt this is one of the more solid years we've seen in a little while. It probably compares to that 89 group that everyone thought had so much depth to it.

JK: What's the plans for that 1st round pick? D-man? Forward?

JP: As you can see we've taken a forward the last few years so there's some talk we may look at a defenseman but normally we stick to the best prospect available.

JK: What's the gameplan? We saw for a time the Broncos were going after size, but has since made a move to more speed and quickness over the last couple drafts

JP:
Our philosophy has become about speed... if a guy can move, if a guy can skate. Size isn't as much of a factor any longer. We'll stay with that pattern.

JK: Where's the talent depth this year as far as location?

JP: Alberta is very deep this year. It's been a few years since they've had that depth. Saskatchewan has a lot of depth also. We've found that B.C. and Manitoba is not as deep as in other years.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Former Bronco Bears it All

Oh no, Smitty.

Here's a story that's appeared in several news sources already. It's just a matter of time until it hits the major sports networks as one of their "kicker" stories.

Associated Press- (story & photo)

SCRANTON, Pa. - Canadian Nathan Smith, the captain of the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, has been charged with indecent exposure after a police officer saw him running naked on a downtown street early Sunday.

Smith, a 26-year-old centre from Strathcona, Alta., told the officer he acted on a bet. Penguins forward Ryan Stone, a native of Calgary, was charged with public drunkenness.

Officials said Smith, a former first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks who played his junior hockey for the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, was charged with misdemeanour counts of indecent exposure, open lewdness and disorderly conduct, as well as public drunkenness. He was released on US$10,000 bail.

"I would like to apologize to the people of Northeast Pennsylvania, my teammates, and to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh Penguins organizations," Smith said in a statement. "I made an embarrassing and regrettable decision this weekend and understand I will face disciplinary action. My conduct was unacceptable and totally out of character - it will not happen again. I promise to do my best to win back your trust and support."

The team advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs on Friday with a Game 5 win over the Hershey Bears. The Penguins will play Philadelphia or Albany in the next round.

The American Hockey League team suspended Smith for its second-round home playoff game Thursday. It was not immediately clear how Stone would be disciplined but the team said he would not be suspended.

Smith has two goals and two assists in five playoff games.

Stone, who has a goal and four assists in the playoffs, was drafted 32nd overall by the Penguins in 2003. The 23-year-old spent his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.

Stone's arrest was his second this season for public drunkenness. He was cited for the same charge in October, pleaded guilty and paid a fine.

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You take the good with the bad...

I guess he'll have a story for the golf tournament this summer.

Raptors? Worst Name Choice in Pro Sports?

Ok, so here's a bit we had on the Eagle 94.1 FM morning show today for our daily "Who's in Trouble in Sports?"

Forget the Raptors were bounced in five games by the Orlando Magic last night in the NBA playoffs... irrelevant. That's not why they drew our ire this morning.

Do the Toronto Raptors have the worst name in pro sports? Clearly they were named after a fad which was, at the time, dinosaurs.

The year was 1994. The Raptors were looking for a team name. A "name the team" contest ensued. Meanwhile, Jurassic Park was smashing records at the movie box office. Kids everywhere were on the playground acting like Triceratops, T-rex's and Brontosauruses or whatever they're called.

Dinosaurs were the thing.

So did the Raptors jump on a fad that is, well.... extinct?

What if they were called the Toronto Disco Dancers... the Toronto Bell Bottoms, perhaps the Toronto Rubiks Cubes? Better yet, how about the Toronto Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Bottom line, when choosing a name for a team, go with something with a little bit more staying power than some mid-90's fad.

Random cool name and logo? See below.













The old Prince George Spruce Kings logo of the BCHL. An angry tree with a hockey stick. Awesome. Bring it back!

Thanks to Jessica W. our News Director for bringing this one to my attention.


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Ok, on a more serious note the WHL's bantam draft is Thursday. Tomorrow I'll post some bits from Broncos Director of Player Personnel Jamie Porter. The Broncos have a bead on a kid they think they can get with their 12th overall pick.

I'll post some highlights of our chat tomorrow. Word is there's no consensus #1 pick. Any of five or six kids could go in the slot occupied by the Red Deer Rebels.

Jon

Monday, April 28, 2008

Love This Pic!


(courtesy sportsnet.ca)

Broncos To Post Profit / Season Ticket Prices Holding the Line

The Swift Current Broncos are passing on the good news to their fans.

The Broncos will post a profit for the 2nd straight year thanks to a strong 2nd half.

"Yes, absolutely. It's a pretty much a guarantee that we will make some money this season. Exactly where we come in and how much, we'll see here in about a months time," commented Assistant General Manager Elden Moberg.

According to Moberg, the Broncos credit three reasons as the main factors.

"There are three things that really factored in. The city stepped up to the plate and provided us with a facility that is of Western Hockey League calibre. At the same time, our team played pretty well in the 2nd half of the season and pretty much all year. We played an exciting brand of hockey. I think the third reason is the economy. There's some optimism and people are moving in. There's some dollars out there in some of the sectors. I think when you throw all of those things in, there's lots of reasons to be optimistic about where we're going and what our future is going to be."

And Moberg feels the building finally being completed allowed them to maximize revenues down the stretch.

"A lot of that is related to the fact we had such good attendance in the 2nd half of the season and all the amenities in our facility that maybe we were without for the 1st half were back at that time. Obviously the playoff run helps out as well."

The strong financial season will also allow the Broncos to hold the line on season ticket prices for the 2008-09 season.

"If we have enough people in our building to pay the bills, then we can hold the line on pricing. As a result we didn't increase our season ticket prices."

The Broncos have also adopted three more choices for their fan base including a Family Fun Zone, An Adult Fun Zone and a Kid's section.


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The WHL's bantam draft is set for Thursday. The Broncos will pick 11th overall in the first round. The depth of this year's draft is said to be excellent. I talked with Broncos Director of Player Personnel Jaime Porter for a radio station piece last week. I'll post a bantam draft preview with his thoughts in the coming days.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nelson Makes it Official / Now THAT is Overtime....

Levi Nelson has officially signed on with the Boston Bruins meaning his chances of being back with the Broncos next year are very slim. The two parties came to a verbal agreement a couple weeks ago. Until Levi officially signed the deal, I wasn't going to report anything.

Here's the release:

Boston Bruins General Manger Peter Chiarelli announced Wednesday that the club has signed goaltender Kevin Regan and center Levi Nelson to entry-level contracts. Per team policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.

Regan, a 6'2", 190-pound goaltender has played his last four seasons at the University of New Hampshire. The Boston Bruins drafted him with the 277th pick in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Draft.

The 23-year old assistant captain and South Boston native finished the 2007-08 season as UNH's career leader with 70 wins, 3,235 saves and a .928 save percentage in 112 collegiate games. He is the only goaltender in UNH history to capture back-to-back 20-win campaigns.

The Bruins drafted Nelson with their sixth round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft (158th overall). He has played the last four seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, appearing in 198 games with 65 goals, 87 assists and 340 penalty minutes. During the 2007-08 regular season with Swift Current, Nelson notched 25 goals, 31 assists, a +23 plus/minus and 152 penalty minutes in 67 games. He has recently added seven goals and eight assists in 12 postseason games.

In 2006-07, Nelson appeared in one regular season game and four postseason games for the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League), tallying one playoff goal. He posted 18-34-52 totals in 2006-07 regular season action for Swift Current.

The 6'0" 19-year old center is from Calgary, Alberta.

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I'll have more later, until then, check out this story out of the American Hockey League last night...

Phantoms win longest game in AHL history

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. ... The Philadelphia Phantoms have defeated the Albany River Rats, 3-2, at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., in the longest game in the 72-year history of the American Hockey League.

Ryan Potulny's goal at 2:58 of the fifth overtime period gave the Phantoms the win and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven East Division semifinal series. Game 6 is Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

The winning goal was scored at 12:39 a.m. EDT on Friday morning, five hours and 38 minutes after the game began.

Philadelphia took an incredible 101 shots on goal in the game, and Albany’s Michael Leighton, who won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender during the 2007-08 regular season, made 98 saves, believed to be an AHL record. The Phantoms’ Scott Munroe stopped 65 of 67 shots to earn the win.

Albany’s Kiel McLeod netted a pair of goals in regulation, both coming in the second period to give the River Rats 1-0 and 2-1 advantages.

But the Phantoms’ Jared Ross responded to tie the score on both occasions, including a tally at 15:13 of the third period to send the contest to overtime.

It remained deadlocked at 2-2 for more than three hours of real time before Potulny finally ended it in the fifth extra session.

The marathon surpassed the previous longest game, a 2003 Calder Cup Final game between Hamilton and Houston that went 14:56 into a fourth overtime. It was also longer than all but three NHL games ever played.


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Central Scouting Releases Final Rankings

A great showing by WHL'ers in the Central Scouting final rankings just ahead of the NHL Entry draft. 10 of the top 30 North American skaters are from our league.

Also, a handful of Broncos cracked the list in the later rounds including a first time showing for Zack Smith and Dale Wiese. Finding 19 year-olds on the list is usually rare, unless they really did something from the past season.

Here's a look at WHL'ers in the top 30 and then a list of Broncos.


4. Tyler Myers - Kelowna

5. Luke Schenn - Kelowna

7. Kyle Beach - Everett

8. Zach Boychuk - Lethbridge

12. Luca Sbisa - Lethbridge

13. Colby Robak - Brandon

18. Colten Tuebert - Regina

24. Matt Calvert - Brandon

25. Jyri Niemi - Saskatoon

30. Kruise Reddick - Tri City


Other WHL Notables in top 50


31. Tyler Ennis - Medicine Hat

33. Jordan Eberle - Regina

35. James Wright - Vancouver

39. Michael Stone - Calgary

48. Brandon McMillan - Kelowna


Several Broncos in the middle:


71. Geordie Wudrick ( 69th midterm )

96. Matt Tassone (108th midterm)

108. Zack Smith (not ranked)

110. Jan Dalecky (109th midterm)

153. Dale Wiese (not ranked)


I can't really figure out Central Scouting sometimes. Eric Doyle was on the mid-term rankings yet not on the final rankings after what I thought was a solid end of the season.


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I'll be headed for the NHL draft in Ottawa in less than two months. Again I'll be covering it for our group of stations in Golden West Broadcasting. I consider myself pretty fortunate to attend the event every year. Our company makes a go of it and I'm thankful for the opportunity. Not many WHL PBP broadcasters get the opportunity to go. Last year, only myself and Rod Pedersen of the Pats attended the event. Well, Roddy made it to Columbus but he was a half hour shy of making it to the dance. I'll still count him in though. Hopefully his flight arrives a little earlier this year.


I'm a little extra excited this year. Sure it's back to Ottawa (same place as 2005), but the event itself has me anticipating big things for our guys. I've heard we could be well represented on the draft board as opposed to other years. In general, it's a great year for WHL talent and that adds an extra element to it.


In Columbus, I had to wait, and wait for the Broncos to hit the board. Finally Ryan Molle and Paul Postma were selected in the 7th and final round.


Ottawa is a beautiful Canadian city and everyone should make a stop there in their lifetime. The parliament buildings and the biward district is a pretty fun spot just off the city's downtown core.


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The Broncos are changing up their season tickets for next season. I will have a blog about that tomorrow. Eldon Moberg, the Broncos Assistant General Manager is also trumpeting this season as a big success from a business standpoint. I'll have some of his comments too.


Jon



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ed Chynoweth's Legacy Will Live On

This piece is from the Kamloops Daily News. It's the fantastic work of Gregg Drinnan.

I thought I would share it here.

Ed Chynoweth, 1941-2008

From The Daily News of Wednesday, April 23, 2008 . . .

Like a son weeping for his father who has just died, the Western HockeyLeague has tears rolling down its cheeks today.

Ed Chynoweth, the WHL’s father, died quietly in his sleep Tuesday morning inOkotoks, Alta. He had been fighting cancer since it was first diagnosed in akidney in 2006. He was 66.

It is true that life goes on, that time waits for no one. But it also istrue that some days are emptier than others. And because Chynoweth is gone,today is as empty as big oil’s heart.

When the history of the WHL is discussed, Bill Hunter, Scott Munro and BenHatskin are the Big Three. But there was only one Big Ed.Back in the day, Hunter ran the Edmonton Oil Kings, Munro the CalgaryCentennials and Hatskin the Winnipeg Jr. Jets. They also ran the league. But in the early 1970s, recognizing that this thing had a chance to be big,they reached into Saskatchewan and hired a young man away from the Saskatoon Blades.

Chynoweth had spent a year working at the Sheraton Cavalier, aSaskatoon hotel, before joining the Blades as assistant general managerunder Jack McLeod.The day Ed Chynoweth was hired as president was the day the WHL wrote its ticket.

I last spoke with Chynoweth one evening in early February. He tired easilybut that didn’t stop him from reminiscing about his favourite subject — theWHL — for 45 minutes.

He had begun with the WHL in 1972 as the assistant to Thomas K. Fisher, who carried the title of executive secretary. Chynoweth was named president atthe league's annual meeting in Saskatoon in June 1973.

“In ’72, when I started, Hunter and Munro were definitely the kingpins,” Chynoweth said. “They were the full-time guys. Then they finally brought Benny Hatskin onside. Munro would manufacture the bullets . . . Hunter would fire them . . . and, when they needed money, they’d go to Benny.

“I think I resigned three times in the first two years and it was because ofthe way they tested you. And yet, at the end of it, it was the greatest training I’ve ever had. . . .

“Scotty used to tell me: Ed, the best government is a dictatorship . . . if you can find a fair dictator. He believed that. I inherited that. Whether I deserved it or whether I earned it or what. . . .”

The one thing Chynoweth brought to the WHL was vision. That was his strength as a leader. He spent his final season as the chairman of the WHL’s board ofgovernors and he admitted to having concerns about the future.

“The founding fathers, the Hunters and Munros,” he said, “had a vision andas much as they tested you at the end of the day they would come clean andit was what was best for the league. I don’t think we have that now.“We need to sit down and say, ‘Hey, where are we going with this?’ ”The WHL’s small-market teams never had a better friend than Chynoweth. Better than anyone, he understood that the WHL wouldn’t be the WHL withoutMoose Jaw and Prince Albert and Swift Current and Medicine Hat andLethbridge . . .

In that February conversation, Chynoweth said his vision included some form of revenue sharing and that he felt it was vitally important that the board of governors hold serious and open discussions on the subject. Chynoweth went so far as to compare the WHL to the NHL in terms of large and small markets.

“They expanded and blew the money,” he said. “We expanded and blew the money. They have revenue sharing with the players; we need revenue sharing with small markets.

“And now costs continue to go up but we don’t have any added revenue.”

When the Medicine Hat Tigers joined the WHL in 1970, the entry fee was $2,000. An expansion franchise prior to this season cost the Edmonton OilKings a nifty $4 million. Aware that major junior hockey will never fall into big TV money and knowing that the WHL has expanded beyond its available player pool, Chynoweth expressed concern that revenues are as large as they are going to get.

It is time, he said, for teams to get their expenses under control. Hearing Chynoweth talk like that should make the board of governors pay attention. Because Chynoweth is the same guy who first spoke of the need for teams to market their product, that as consumers were faced with more and more entertainment options, WHL teams couldn’t simply open their doors and expect fans to fill their arenas.

History will show, however, that Chynoweth’s greatest legacy was the WHL’seducation policy. In the early years, Chynoweth spent a lot of time talkingto owners about two things: 1. Education; and, 2. Treating people properly.He understood that the WHL's greatest resource was its players; he alsounderstood that a very small percentage of them would reach the NHL.

Right now, the education policy is the WHL’s best recruiting tool as it competes for players with junior A leagues and U.S. college teams.And make no mistake about it — the WHL’s scholarship plan was Chynoweth’s baby.

Chynoweth also was honest. Ask a question. Get an answer.

Early in 1976, he was asked why the WHL had increased the number of teams qualifying for playoffs from eight to 10.

"We added the two teams simply for financial reasons," Chynoweth said.

He always was great with the media, too, primarily because he, more than any WHL league or team executive, understood the role of the press. He never treated the media with anything less than respect. He always returned phonecalls. If he disagreed with something you had written, you could count on hearing from him.

He long hoped to land a job as an NHL general manager and came close at least once, that in the early 1980s with the Philadelphia Flyers. He also is believed to have been shortlisted by the Quebec Nordiques.

But as he once put it: "My friends in the press don't own any NHL franchises to do the hiring. Consequently, there haven't been a lot of NHL job offers."

It was that kind of understanding of the press that helped Chynoweth and the WHL survive the bloody seasons of the mid-1970s, like when, following a particularly ugly game, Saskatoon City Council voted to padlock the arena rather than allow the Victoria Cougars and Blades to play.Still, in March of 1976, Chynoweth decided enough was enough and he offered to resign.

"It isn't a play for money," he said. "It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I got to the airport and fly to Flin Flon."

The resignation wasn't accepted. A year or two before that, World Hockey Association organizers had approached him about the upstart league's presidency.

"I always say talk is cheap," Chynoweth said, "but until people start laying money on the table that's all it is."

The WHA people never did show him the colour of their money. They should have. The WHL has never been able to replace Chynoweth, who left office in 1996 to operate the Edmonton/Kootenay Ice. And, to be fair, the WHL, recognizing the task as being impossible, never really tried to replace him.

"I don't believe anyone is irreplaceable," the late Brian Shaw, who operated the Portland Winter Hawks, once said, "but, in my opinion, we'll never get another Ed Chynoweth. We might get an adequate replacement, but never another Ed Chynoweth."

As it entered into a period when it was dealing a lot with marketing and broadcasting opportunities, the board of governors felt the WHL needed a lawyer in charge and Dev Dley, a Kamloops lawyer, was hired to succeed Chynoweth. Later, the men who own the franchises changed their tune and decided they needed someone in office who would help sell their league. Which is when Ron Robison, the WHL’s present-day commissioner, left Hockey Canada where his primary responsibilities had been in marketing.

A native of Dodsland, Sask., Chynoweth ruled the WHL, with the exception of one season, from 1973 through 1995; he spent 1979-80 as general manager ofthe Calgary Wranglers. At that time, the WHL decided it would be best served with an administratir at the president’s office so hired a gentleman named David Descent, who had been running the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association.

Descent didn't finish the season. He lasted until one night in February when Ernie McLean tossed a garbage can from the New Westminster Bruins’ bench onto the ice. Chynoweth was back in office before another season arrived.Under Chynoweth, the WHL grew from a league seen to have a lust for blood to what it is today.

In the early- and mid-1970s, Chynoweth issued a weekly press release — it came out every Monday — containing nothing more than fines and suspensions. Back then, there were people running teams who felt it was the fighting that sold their game. Chynoweth thought otherwise and was determined to steer a new course.

At one time in January 1975, Chynoweth suspended Pat Ginnell, then the owner and head coach of the Victoria Cougars, for three games and fined him $1,000 after his team was involved in bench-clearing brawls in two straight games. Chynoweth also set a deadline by which time the fine had to be paid orVictoria would have to forfeit its next game, which just happened to be a home game.

"Chynoweth has no business threatening me that way," Ginnell said. "Nobody closes down a business because one employee has done something wrong. That,in effect, is what Chynoweth wants to do. It becomes a matter of principle.I'm not going to pay the fine until I can appeal to the board of governors."

Ginnell even threatened to slap Chynoweth with "the quickest injunction in legal history if he tries to cancel the game."

The league, of course, supported Chynoweth. Ginnell paid the fine. The game went on. And in a few years the donnybrooks that had occurred so often were a thing of the past.

“He (had) so much to do with the story of the Western Hockey League becoming modern,” Moose Jaw Warriors governor Darin Chow told the ReginaLeader-Post’s Rob Vanstone.

“With Moose Jaw, for instance, it has gone from a purchase (price) of $250,000 to a team that’s probably worth $10 million now.”

Chynoweth said that when he first was president, Edmonton and Calgary mayhave had budgets in the area of $150,000. He said Kootenay’s budget this season approached $1.6 million.

And just because he was no longer president didn’t mean Chynoweth had little influence in the WHL. He served as chairman of the board from 1996-98 and began another stint in 2004

When I researched a story that we headlined WHL Power Poll in our paper of Feb. 15, there never was any question as to whowas the most powerful individual around the WHL. It was Ed Chynoweth, even in failing health. It was only fitting, then, that he was the chairman of the board at the time of his death. In fact, despite being gravely ill, Chynoweth not only attended a board of governors’ meeting in February, but he ran the meeting.It was a special meeting, called to discuss the economics of the WHL. With his strong views on the subject, there was no way Big Ed was going to miss that meeting. And if he was at the meeting, you knew he was going to run it.That was his way.

Ed Chynoweth is survived by Linda, his wife of 45 years, sons Jeff, theIce’s vice-president and general manager, and Dean, the Swift Current Broncos’ general manager and head coach, and their families. Ed Chynoweth also is survived by a hockey league.

Gregg Drinnan is sports editor of The Daily News. He is atgdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca

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Sad News

Longtime Chairman of the Board for the Western Hockey League, Ed Chynoweth passed away this morning after a battle with cancer. As we all know, he's the father of Broncos Head Coach and General Manager Dean Chynoweth.

The funeral service will be held in early May in Calgary. Ed was 66.

more information is available at http://www.whl.ca/

Monday, April 21, 2008

Broncos Add Two More Into Hall of Fame

The Swift Current Broncos have announced the 2008 Hall of Fame Inductees. The 2008 Hall of Fame Banquet will welcome two new members this season.

Andy Schneider was a member of the Broncos from 1989-1993. A centre from Edmonton, AB, Schneider appeared in 212 games as a Bronco where he recorded 91 goals and 221 assists. He currently sits 2nd all time in the Broncos record books with 221 assists and 4th for all time points with 312. Schneider led the way in the Broncos 2nd trip to the Memorial Cup in the 1992/93 season recording 39 points (13 G, 26 A) in 17 games in the 1993 playoffs. Andy was also named the WHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player that season.

Tyler Wright spent four full seasons with the Broncos from 1989-1993. Hailing from Canora, SK, Wright was the highest Swift Current Bronco ever drafted into the NHL, 12th overall in the 1st Round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. Wright accumulated 115 goals and 157 assists in 233 WHL career games. Wright also played a key role in the Broncos trip to the Memorial Cup in 1993 with 9 goals and 17 assists in 17 playoff games.

The 2008 Hall of Fame Banquet is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 at the Credit Union i-plex auditorium. Tickets will be available in the near future.

Felde in ECHL

Press Release:


The Swift Current Broncos announced that overage forward Erik Felde has signed a pro contract with the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL. Felde made his pro debut Friday night, listed as a defenseman, one of five in the Wildcatters lineup. He had an even +/- rating with no points, shots or penalties in a 4-2 loss to the Columbia Inferno.


Felde, 20, has spent the last two seasons in the WHL, playing 2006-07 with the Tri-City Americans and most of the 2007-08 season with the Broncos. Felde recorded 25 goals, 32 assists, 57 points and 38 penalty minutes in 72 games this season and totaled 109 points (49 G, 60 A) in 144 WHL games played.


The Texas Wildcatters official website is www.wildcattershockey.com


Monday Thoughts.....

Random complaints.. bear with me please.

- People who look for the walk in slo-pitch this is for you. Swing the bat! Yes that will be me this summer in left field yelling " Just swing it!"

- The movie "Chuck and Larry" Is there any way possible to get that hour and 45 minutes in my life back?

- Snow. I was golfing Thursday and Friday, shoveling Monday.

- Teams that don't score in regulation, or the 1st overtime period.

- The Anaheim Ducks ruining my playoff pool.

- Everything that goes along with moving.

- Blogs not being updated anymore. C'mon Regan I know you're in the Domincan but give me something!

- Bad radio commercials.

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Monday morning and the Lethbridge Hurricanes are closing in on an Eastern Conference title. Austin Fyten, a 16 year-old rookie for the 'Canes came off the wall and beat Brett Sonne and then shelfed it on Dan Spence in OT. If you're Dan Spence you can get beat in that position. You have the angle and you give up the glove side.... bad goal. But good for Fyten and kudos to the Hurricanes going to their 4th line in OT and all the playoffs. The scary thing is Lethbridge could be even better next year.

Out West, both Spokane and Tri-City refuse to score in regulation, or for that matter the 1st overtime period. Both games have gone to double-overtime and have ended in a 1-0 decision. The split sends the series to Spokane for game three tonight.

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The Western Hockey League is premier NHL development ground. If you need some evidence look no further than the NHL playoffs. Three players who played last year in the 'dub are right in the thick of things. Milan Lucic of Boston has been a big part of the Bruins series comeback against Montreal. Carey Price has been nothing short of sensational in his rookie season with the Habs. Former Medicine Hat Tiger Darren Helm played nearly 10 minutes for Detroit while recording an assist as the Wings finished off the Preds in six games yesterday.

Speaking of the Predators, they could be a favorite team of mine in the future just based on all their WHL grads. Dan Hamuis, Shea Weber, Jerred Smithson, Vern Fiddler, Martin Erat, Jordin Tootoo, and Darcy Hordichuk, all toiled in this league at one time.

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I'm expecting Bronco news to take about 10 days off 'till the bantam draft. I'll post more on that as it approaches.

Have a good week,

jon

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Smith Makes Pro Debut

Broncos captain Zack Smith assisted on Manitoba's first and only goal in a 2-1 loss to Syracuse. It was game one of the best-of-seven series.

Smith assisted on a 2nd period goal scored by former WHL foe Juraj Simek who played with the Brandon Wheat Kings last season.

Shaun Heska also assisted on the goal. The former Broncos defenseman was dealt to Everett after a cup of coffee with the Broncos to start the 2003-04 season.

Smih would have suited up against former "AAA" Legionnaires teammate Derek Dorsett who is in his first full season of pro.

Friday, April 18, 2008

News Out of Rhode Island...

NEWS RELEASE:

Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins, the regular season points-champions of the American Hockey League, announced this morning that center Levi Nelson has been signed to an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) from the Western Hockey League's Swift Current Broncos. With the move, the P-Bruins now have 26 players on their roster, including 14 forwards, eight defensemen and four goaltenders.

Nelson, 19, joins Providence for his second professional stint in as many seasons after appearing in one regular season game and four playoff contests toward the end of the 2006-07 campaign. Drafted by the Boston Bruins 158th overall in the sixth round of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Nelson is coming off of his best of three full junior seasons in the WHL. The center recorded career-highs with 25 goals, 36 assists, 61 points and 152 penalty minutes in 67 games before adding 15 points, including seven goals, in 12 postseason contests. His junior season ended last Friday as Swift Current fell to the Calgary Hitmen in six games in the teams' second round playoff series.

The center registered 152 points (65g, 87a) in 198 career WHL games over parts of four seasons with the Broncos, where he finished as Swift Current's Rookie of the Year in his first full year and led the team in scoring in his second. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Nelson finished this season's campaign with 20 multiple-point outings and nine point-streaks of at least three games.

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Something...

Not a lot of blog updates recently for a couple reasons. A) There hasn't been much to talk about, B) I've been taking a bit of a mental break since a the whirlwind that was the playoffs.

Here's some random thoughts...

- Speaking of the playoffs, the Broncos won six games. It takes 16 to win a WHL championship. I don't know if I could have lasted that long and I'm just the broadcaster. So many highs and lows and quick turnarounds. More notable events happened in the 12 game run than all 72 games during the regular season. Sure playoffs are fun, but they're a lot of work for all involved. With that said, I still wish we were still going...

- The silver lining to being out of the playoffs for me? I have two solid weeks to get moved into my new house and take care of all the legalities from now till then. Housewarming party coming...

- The Fan 960's Pat Steinberg called me yesterday. He asked what I was doing. As the cliche would suggest, I was actually golfing. A few of us went to the Landing Golf Resort and blasted the rust of the clubs. What a gorgeous day. Sunny, about 18C with a little breeze. Perfect.

- I have to say I've tuned out the WHL playoffs now. A great match-up in the Eastern Conference no doubt, but really it doesn't even come close to being a participant. I've mentally checked out for the year. I still check scores and keep-up-to-date but that's about it.

- Calgary's shotclock guy has been a saint since game three of our series. Calgary had 19 credited shots on goal last night at the Saddledome. That NEVER happens to them. In the past, 19 would quickly become 26.

- What a wrong time to abandon the Dallas Stars. For year's in the playoff draft you would see names like Modano, Zubov, Lehtinen, et all, decorating my team list. Not this year. I said to heck with them after years of playoff futility and under-achieving come the post-season. Guess what team I loaded up on for our station draft? You guessed it, Anaheim.

- Best series in round one? Washington / Philly has been some kind of hockey. Gord Miller / Pierre McGuire of TSN are calling some great games too. Say what you want about McGuire and his style but no one brings more insight to the game than him right now. He's plugged into the game within a game at ice level. He's bringing it.

- On that topic... the CBC's Bob Cole is back. He seems sharp and full of life in the booth and is calling games like he did 10 years ago. He's a legend.

- If I could make the perfect hockey broadcaster here's what I'd do. Chris Cuthbert's enthusiasm crossed with Jim Hughson's knowledge of the game mixed with Bob Cole's sense of game anticipation that something big is about to happen. Throw in a little Paul Romanuk somewhere too. I like his style.

- Levi Nelson is in Providence. The AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins may use him in their next game. A pro-contract is close. I talked to his dad in Calgary today. I'll have the latest when it's a done deal.

Snow this weekend.... clubs back in the basement again, for now.

jon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Smith Headed to Manitoba Moose

Moose News Release:


MOOSE SIGN ZACK SMITH TO ATO

The Manitoba Moose, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, announced they have signed centre Zack Smith to an amateur tryout contract.

Smith, 20, appeared in 72 games this past season with the Swift Current Broncos. In that time, he scored 22 goals and 48 assists for 70 points and 136 penalty minutes. He also collected five goals and five assists for 10 points in 12 playoffs games for the Broncos this season. In four years with the Broncos, the Maple Creek, SK native appeared in 221 games and scored 41 goals and 69 assists for 110 points and 344 penalty minutes. In 21 career playoff games in Swift Current, Smith has five goals and seven assists for 21 points in 21 games.

Yonkman Named Broncos Playoff MVP



Broncos goaltender Travis Yonkman was named the team's playoff MVP today. No surprise at all in this one.

I spoke with Travis earlier today:


JK: Is there a highlight for you looking back over the 12 game playoff run?


TY: Probably the highlight is that (Jordan) Eberle save against the Pats in overtime. I think it was a series changer. Instead of going down 3-1, we tied it up 2-2. I think it gave our team a big boost to win that series.

JK: Is the Playoff MVP award bittersweet?


TY: It's the nicest award to get but we didn't get as far as we liked. I think I played my best hockey through the playoff season and it paid off.


JK: The way you finished the year, what kind of mindset do you have right now? Do you want the break or do you want the new season to begin tomorrow?

TY: I can't wait already for next year. I had a great year in Swift Current. Playoffs are a grind and there are bumps and bruises that need to heal... but I can guarantee in about a week I'll be ready to go and get back in the swing of things.


PRESS RELEASE:

The Swift Current Broncos goaltender Travis Yonkman has been named the team’s 2007/08 Meyers Norris Penny Playoff Most Valuable Player. The nineteen-year-old Yonkman started all 12 playoff games posting a record of 6-4-2-0, with a save percentage of .901 and a goals against average of 3.11. Yonkman was named a game star 4 games out of 12 during the post season and currently leads all WHL goaltenders in shots faced with 414, minutes played with 790 and games played with 12.


Yonkman not only had a strong post season stretch with the Broncos, but backboned the Club through the regular season as well. Travis played 57 games through the regular season where he put up a record of 31-19-0-6 to go along with a .909 save percentage, a goals against average of 2.67 and 3 shutouts.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

More on the Playoffs...

The Swift Current Broncos will take the next couple days for exit meetings and then turn their players loose for the summer months. Here's some playoff and regular season thoughts.

- Have you noticed that only the five teams with the best regular season records remains? Tri-City, Spokane, Vancouver, Calgary and Lethbridge. The Broncos were the black sheep of the group finishing 11th in the regular season. They say the regular season doesn't mean anything, not this year.

- Through the regular season and playoffs, the Broncos were the only team in the WHL not to get shutout this season. Through the 72 regular season games and 12 playoff games, the Broncos scored at least a goal. Brandon was close, they were blanked on their final game of the playoffs by Lethbridge.

- How lopsided were the powerplays in the Broncos/Hitmen series? How about 34-21 Hitmen. Not saying it was the reason for the series win but it sure played a huge role. When it comes to a six game series, that's a huge difference in powerplay time.

- Six home ice playoff games should go a long ways towards a potential profit for the organization for the 2nd straight year. Granted, the Broncos couldn't maximize their revenue because of renovations most of the season. We will get the final numbers at the AGM.

- The Broncos could see a handful of their older players sign professional contracts over the next while and summer. We will wait and see. All three 20 year-olds have some irons in the fire. Levi Nelson is expected to sign with Boston shortly, Zack Smith and Dale Wiese are getting some attention from NHL teams. Keegan Dansereau has too much skill not to get an offer of some sort and Jesse Dudas and the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to talk. Although the 20 year-old situation next season could make for some tough decisions for the Broncos, it's quite possible the pool of players could be shortened significantly before camp.

- Did anyone see the time clock freeze during last night's Calgary Flames / San Jose Sharks game? I had a chuckle... it happened three times in three games last week in Calgary during the Broncos/Hitmen series.

- It was sure awesome to call some WHL games from the Saddledome. Friday's game featured the Stanley Cup Playoff logo on the ice just inside the bluelines. Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was a neat experience...

- Thanks to Brad Curle and the crew at the Fan 960. We had some fun this series. Great job by Pat back at the studio as game host. It was fun to be one of the pre-game guests all series long. There wasn't a stone left unturned when breaking down the series.

- It took to game six, but I finally got a smile from Hitmen Head Coach and General Manager Kelly Kisio in our pre-game interview. Kelly was very accommodating all series long. His no- nonsense approach took a break the odd time in our pre-game Q and A session. Through it all, both coaches were very complimentary of each other and their opponent.



- Was beating the Regina Pats the end all, be all for the Broncos? In a word, no. They wanted more and weren't satisfied. Although our fans relished in the six game series win, the team wanted more.

- It was great to see our fans so excited for game six back on home ice. Tickets were all but gone in the early afternoon. The line-up started early and carried out in front of the I-plex main entrance. Playoff fever took over this city.



- The Eastern Conference Final will be some great hockey too. With Calgary five hours away and Lethbridge about 3 1/2, it may be worth checking out in person.


- Who is our playoff MVP? Is it Travis Yonkman or do other players get some consideration? Keegan Dansereau could be a close runner-up. I think it's Yonks though. The Broncos should fire a news release on the award winner sometime this week.

- I'm headed down today to get some audio for the radio stations. Maybe I'll transcribe a few of the quotes for the blog. Thanks to Tim Kehler for our 20 minute post-game interview after game six. I heard a lot of people sure liked his take on the team and the series.

More later.......

Jon

Season Ends

Good luck to Calgary in the Eastern Conference final against Lethbridge. They are a heckuva team.

I'll post a season recap tomorrow. For now, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from last night's 3rd period and post game.

Thanks for the entertainment guys...

Jon

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Are the Rolling Stones in Town?

Tickets are pretty much sold out already....

I popped down to the office to get my gear set-up around noon to see a solid line-up all the way out the doors of the office and into the lobby.

More tickets will be available at 2pm today for the season ticket holders who do not claim theirs.

Word is the line-up started at 4am outside the Broncos office...

This is nuts, but it's great to see.

Jon

Game Six Tonight!

As I put this latest entry together the Broncos bus just slid past the Hitmen convoy on the Transcanada Highway near Medicine Hat around 1am… is it an omen for what’s to come in this series?

The Broncos showed some resolve in game five. Falling behind 2-0 just 2:18 into the first period spelled trouble. The Broncos then rattled off four straight goals in a span of 11 minutes to take the lead for good. Dale Wiese would add his 7th goal of the playoffs into an empty net for the 5-2 win to extend the Broncos season at least another night.

Jesse Dudas got the Broncos going. He jumped into the rush led by Cody Eakin and found a rebound to make it 2-1. Dale Wiese then struck on the powerplay when a juicy rebound found his tape. A few minutes later Levi Nelson out-raced Paul Postma for a puck behind the Hitmen goal and centered for Keegan Dansereau to give the Broncos a lead 16:19 into the 1st. Nineteen seconds later it was Levi showcasing his heavy snapshot as he crossed the Hitmen blueline and lazered the puck shelf for the 4-2 advantage.

Cue back-up goaltender Martin Jones for the 2nd time in this series. Like he did in game three, Jones would come in and play very well.

From there, both teams played a pretty conservative 2nd period to give the Broncos the dreaded two goal lead entering the third.

The Broncos had to weather a storm including five straight Hitmen powerplays and a 5-on-3 for 42 seconds midway through the final frame. Calgary missed several glorious opportunities to pull within a goal but mis-fired. Brock Nixon missed a tap-in when he tried to send home a rolling, bouncing puck.

A late penalty gave Calgary a 6-on-4 with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker. They never got an opportunity. Dale Wiese iced the game with the empty-netter off the next face-off to send the series back to Swift for game six.

Who do the Hitmen start in goal tomorrow? Jones has made two solid relief appearances for Dan Spence. Do you go back Spence or do you give Jones the call? Kelly Kisio I’m sure has already made up his mind.

Tickets go on sale at the I-plex at 9am. Season tickets holders have until 2pm to claim their tickets before they are released to the public. The Broncos are hoping for a sell-out but trying to process nearly 3000 tickets in 10 hours will be a big test. Call the ticket hotline 773 – 1509.

What a nifty format for games five and six. A five hour bus ride home and another game. Four games in five nights. This is junior hockey in its purest form complete with the two team’s busses passing in the night. Is this fun or what?

Jon

Friday, April 11, 2008

Send It To Swift!

"We have the team to do it"

- Erik Felde at today's pre-game skate

The Broncos will look to extend the series to Swift Current for a game six tomorrow night with a win over the Calgary Hitmen at the Saddledome.

By all accounts, yesterday's day off was good. Some rest, some shopping, TV...whatever. The Broncos will now get back to the task at hand.

Both games three and four were one-goal losses and the Broncos are hoping they can be on the other side of that decision tonight. For several players, they're facing the prospects of their last game in the Western Hockey League. Not only for the three 20 year-olds in Bretton Stamler, Erik Felde and Michael Wilson, the handful of 19 year-olds also face an uncertain future. Whether it's aspirations of pro-hockey or trying to land one of three 20 year-old spots next season, safe to say there is a lot to play for.

You go into it with the attitude of you don't want it to be your last pre-game skate, you don't want it to be your last pre-game meal with the guys, all that stuff weighs on it but come game-time it's back to normal game preparation. You don't want to be changing things at this time of year. The one thing in these situations you always ask of your guys is you wanna leave it all out there. At the end of the day, however the cards may fall you wanna say you gave it your best and I'm confident with our group they'll do that and come up with a win here tonight and force this thing into another game tomorrow night in front of our 2865 roaring fans.

- Broncos Head Coach & GM Dean Chynoweth in our pre-game interview.

As for Calgary itself, a heavy snowfall yesterday wreaked havoc on the streets and freeways. Delays, cars in the ditch, traffic at a snails pace was the theme of the day. Ryan drove home yesterday after waiting out the worst of it. It means I'll do game five by myself tonight barring any last minute color commentators arising.

I had a chat with one of the off-ice officials during game three about the skewed shot clock at the Saddledome. It was something Dean Chynoweth even brought up in our pre-game show interview how the shots on goal are always out of whack at the 'Dome. Do the off-ice officials feel they can somehow influence the game story?

For instance, Travis Yonkman faced an early shot in the 3rd period of game three and covered up after one whack on a rebound. I watched as the shotclock jumped FIVE notches. Even Yonks mentioned it today. The off-ice officials also don't count some of the marginal shots on goal for the visitors you would see them give credit to the Hitmen for.

Lets take a look. You add 5 shots to the Hitmen, take away 5 for the Broncos and all of a sudden a 35-25 shots on goal game becomes 40-20. All of a sudden the storyline becomes "The Hitmen badly outplayed their opposition".

In game four, the crew cleaned their act up. The shots were dead on from our calculations in the booth. Maybe it was our conversation, maybe they felt guilty... maybe the league said something? We will see if it continues tonight.

I hope to see everyone back in the Credit Union I-plex tomorrow night.

Jon

---------------------------

Game #6 Ticket Information

The Swift Current Broncos announced today the team’s protocol for the purchase of tickets to game #6 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series against the Calgary Hitmen.

With the Broncos loss to the Hitmen Wednesday night the necessity of a game #6 back in Swift Current on Saturday, April 12th (7:30 pm start) is yet to be determined. Should the Broncos win tonight’s game in Calgary to force a game #6, tickets will be on sale at the Broncos Store in the Credit Union i-plex starting Saturday morning at 9:00 am.

Season ticket holders will have until 2:00 pm on Saturday to pick up their season tickets before they are released to the general public.

Tickets, once on sale, can be reserved by calling the Broncos Ticket Hotline at 773-1509

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Season on the Line

The Broncos took the day off today away from the rink in the middle of this 2nd round series with Calgary.

Last night's game was the slowest pace we've seen from these two teams in this series and don't think for a second that double overtime Tuesday night didn't play a factor.

Game four was a game which was going to come down to which team took advantage of their opportunities. Calgary scored twice on the powerplay, and that was that. On the flipside, the Broncos powerplay struggled going 0/4. They even had a PP late in the third down 3-2 but didn't even really get set up in Hitmen territory. Calgary had the better special teams and it was the biggest factor in game four.

-------


Today the guys were allowed to sleep in a little. Some spent time with family, some were bussed down to the Chinook Shopping Center for a few hours. A team meal, followed by some NHL playoffs and that takes us up to now.

I won't get into the cliché slinging, we all know the situation.

The uphill road starts tomorrow night. I'll have more before the 7pm face-off.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Heartbreaker....

Some are calling it a classic, some are calling it a thriller, but only one name seems to describe how the Broncos feel about it.

Calgary rallied from a 2nd period 5-2 deficit for a 6-5 double overtime win on Ryan White's wrister on a two-on-two.

Seriously, I'm done with leads in the WHL playoffs. A third period lead has spelled trouble. Just ask the Regina Pats in round one.

The Broncos led 2-0 six minutes in before Calgary tied it. Then the Broncos built a 5-2 lead midway through the 2nd before a 5-0n-3 Calgary PP goal cut the lead to 5-3 after two.

Scoring chances dominated the game, and overtime was no exception, In fact, the chances seem to mount in sudden death. Travis Yonkman made some brilliant saves including an out-of-this-world double pad stacker on the side of the net on Brandon Kozun.

Both teams shortened their bench somewhat in OT. The Broncos going with 10 forwards and six defense while Calgary's all world defensive corps surprisingly cut the d-rotation to four (Alzner, Stone, Postma and Seabrook). For all the talk of Calgary's defense in this series, it was the Broncos still playing with six, sometimes seven d-men in overtime.

The thing is, these two teams played 5 periods of hockey last night and get right back at it tonight. It's the beginning of potentially four games in five nights.

The Broncos were able to chase Dan Spence from the Hitmen goal after Michael Wilson found a loose puck on the powerplay and put it home. Martin Jones came in for relief duties and was promptly beaten on the first shot he faced - a beauty set-up from Jesse Dudas to spot Geordie Wudrick on the side of the net. After that Jones was stellar, making every save the rest of the way.

So who gets the start in the Calgary goal tonight? Do you go back to Spence or give Jones the shot to carry the mail in game four?

---------------

Honestly I think the guys have shaken off the double OT loss this morning, they have no choice. We will see who the fresher team is tonight before a day off Thursday.

I woke up this morning hurting. The voice and throat got a good workout. It's the longest game I've ever called all 99 minutes worth. We don't take commercials in overtime as we don't want to miss the game winner. Thank god Ryan Switzer was with me last night to take some of the load off.

I hope you enjoyed the broadcast, I had a few e-mails this morning from friends who really enjoyed the "classic" or "thriller" ... and yes the heartbreaker.

Jon

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Calgary Pics

Fresh sheet of ice unveiled after a week long Juno production had it covered.



Paul and Murray get the skates ready for tonight.

The team watches Flames practice from 10 rows up.

Flames would pack up and leave for San Jose after practice

The main attraction... Jarome Iginla



Former Red Deer Rebel, now a star on the rise in the NHL Dion Phaneuf



Curtis Joseph takes some extra shots after practice





Game Day in Calgary

The hockey club arrived last night around 9pm after departing following practice at the I-plex in the mid-afternoon.

Upon arrival at the Saddledome, it was clear that was still a lot of the reminisce of the Juno Awards held just the night before. The stage was still being torn down, crews were cleaning up all sorts of garbage and empty bottles... the ice surface still covered in black floor boards.

12 hours later, and you would have never known such an event was staged at all. The guys got to the rink in the morning for a meeting while Tim Kehler skated the black aces on a fresh sheet of Saddledome ice.


Broncos defenseman Jesse Dudas could play tonight. He will take warm-up and then be a gametime decision. He says he feels good and is ready to go. We'll see if the coaching staff agrees. Dudas was solid in the first two games against Regina before taking the arm injury. We will see how effective he can be getting back into a much quicker, faster tempo series. I think his game suits this series perfectly.

A little bit of a treat for the guys following meetings. The Calgary Flames held a practice before jumping on the charter flight to San Jose for their opening round best-of-seven series with the Sharks.

For the Bronco players, the lustre of an NHL practice remains bright. They become fans of the game, spectators for a change and really seem to enjoy watching the speed and flow of the practice.


"I wonder if Iggy will give me a stick?" was one of the things I overheard from the guys. No doubt these NHL superstars are held in high regard from the group.

It's almost refreshing to see.

There's no doubt a bit of the tourist element than can creep in on trips like these. For most of the guys it's not an issue. The bottom line is that there is work to do and a mission to be accomplished. I'm sure it must be nice to take a mental break.

Of course, I'm not excluded from this. But for me, it's guys like longtime radio voice of the Flames Peter Maher floating underneath the stands that I get more of a kick out of.

I have some pics from this morning I snapped with my digital camera. For some reason I'm having trouble uploading them to blogger. I'll post them when I can.

We're on the air beginning at 6:30pm with the pre-game show. Brandon Wheat Kings Coach and General Manager Kelly MaCrimmon will be our featured guest.


Jon

Monday, April 07, 2008

Fan Bus Planned / Complete Schedule Announced

Pizza Hut Fan Bus Heads to Calgary

The Swift Current Broncos announced today that the team will be offering a Pizza Hut Playoff Fan Bus to Calgary on Friday, April 11th for Game #5 of the second round matchup between the Broncos and Hitmen.

The bus is available for a cost of $85 and will once again include transportation to and from Calgary, a ticket to the game, and pizza courtesy of Pizza Hut. The bus will depart at 12:00 noon Friday afternoon and will arrive back in Swift Current at approximately 2:30 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.

Complete Round 2 Schedule Announced

The Swift Current Broncos have announced their complete Eastern Conference semi-final series schedule against the Calgary Hitmen.

The full 7 game series schedule will be as follows:

Game #1 - Friday, April 4th @ Swift Current (7:30 pm)
Game #2 - Saturday, April 5th @ Swift Current (7:30 pm)
Game #3 - Tuesday, April 8th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)
Game #4 – Wednesday, April 9th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)
Game #5 - Friday, April 11th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)
Game #6 – Saturday, April 12th @ Swift Current (7:30 pm)*
Game #7 – Monday, April 14th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)*

Travel Day

Not much to report today as the Broncos depart later for Calgary for games three, four and five of the series.

I have a ton of radio station work to do before leaving for the rest of the week and that will keep me busy today.

A quick post-game quote from Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler following Saturday night's loss...

"It's going to be a tall order - the three games in a a row in Calgary. But, we got a win the last time there and there's reason for optimism and I don't think a split here is all that bad as the lower seeded club. I think we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic."

I'll have more when we get to arrive in Calgary and get set-up.

Take care,

jon

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hitmen Even Series

Calgary would bend, but never break as they skated to a 5-2 win at the Credit Union I-plex to even the 2nd round best-of-seven 1-1.

This is some kind of hockey. Easily the highest calibre I've seen all season or in my five years with this team. It really is a treat to watch and call. The fans of this series are the big winners.

Calgary never relinquished the lead after scoring 1st 9:30 into the opening period. The Broncos fell behind by two goals twice but always got the next marker to keep the Hitmen within reach.

2-1, after the first, then 3-2 after two, Kyle Bortis would score an insurance marker four minutes into the third on a nice set-up from T.J Galiardi after a Broncos miscue in their own zone. Galiardi would add an empty netter in the final minute to cap a four point night.

For the 2nd night in a row, the Broncos outshot the Hitmen (40-34). The Broncos were outshot in all four regular season contests.

Perhaps the strangest part of last night's game was the powerplay opportunities. For the first time that I can remember, the Broncos did not give the opposition a powerplay. Calgary would finish the night 0/0 on the PP while the Broncos were 1/3 thanks to Zack Smith's deflection in front on an Erik Felde one-timer.

Game three of the series is Tuesday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome.


------------------

- What great insight from colorman Tim Tisdale on our broadcast last night. Tim had his finger on the line match-ups and the coaching game within a game all night long. It was quite the chess match as the teams jockeyed for the right match-ups. The former WHL coach of the Regina Pats is one of the best hockey minds out there.

After the game in the post-game coaches show with Assistant Coach Tim Kehler, I felt like I didn't want to get in the way of their discussion as they broke down game two. Tisdale's line of questioning and Kehler's responses was a real treat to listen to.

There are times I think I know the game quite well, and there are times I realize I have a lot to learn - like last night. Solid work by Tiz.

No doubt Ryan Switzer packs in the entertainment value like no other. We are going to explore the possibility of getting Tiz down at ice level in a Pierre McGuire "between the benches" role next season or possibly later on in the playoffs. I think it would really compliment what Ryan and I do with the broadcast. To add a solid X and O's guy to a high energy broadcast would give us the best of both worlds.

- Bronco Hall of Famer Todd Holt joined us for a 2nd intermission chat. He was at the game with his family. You could sense in his voice how much he loved being at the game with the atmosphere around the team. I asked him if tonight's pace reminded him of the way it used to be when he played here in the late 80's and early 90's. He pulled no punches and said the pace of this series was way quicker than when he played. He credited the skill, strength and size of the players for the quick tempo we're seeing.

- Hitmen Associate Coach Dave Lowry was our guest in the pre-game. With all the playoff rituals going on between these two teams, I asked Dave why he's not growing that thick red, mean looking playoff beard he sported in the Calgary Flames playoff run in 2004. Remember that? He told me it isn't red anymore... the color has changed more to the grey side. He said he would have to color it just like the players in this series are doing with their hair.

- Getting back to the whole shots on goal thing. I'll try to keep my own shot numbers in Calgary because of the shot clock homers at the Saddledome. It's embarrassing how they try to favour the home team to make it look like the play is one-sided. Most times in Calgary maybe the play is one-sided but I'm going to be the official shot clock watchdog next week. I'm talking about shots not credited to the visitors, a rebound and a whack at a puck that multiplies into a four shot flurry for the hometeam, etc. Coaches around the WHL can relate to this, in fact several have mentioned it to me over the years.

---------------

Sunday is anything but a day off. Getting together three pre-game shows for the next week will be the focus. The team will depart for Calgary sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Can someone tell me what's going on with the NHL playoffs? I'm completely lost. Worse yet, I'll miss the radio station's playoff draft because of being on the road. Maybe I can join via text message.

We're on the air Tuesday at 6:30pm

Have a good day,

Jon

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Broncos Take Game One

Entertaining tilt last night at a sold out Credit Union I-plex had the Broncos rallying for a 3-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen.

Levi Nelson's 2nd goal of the night midway through the third period put the Broncos up for good.

Calgary had one golden opportunity to tie it in the final minutes on a Brock Nixon breakaway. Pressured from behind, Nixon tried a quick back-hand but Yonkman made the save to preserve the lead.

It was a well-officiated game by the duo of Nathan Wieler and Regan Vetter. Barely any penalties all night as the skill and speed of these two clubs took over.

Cody Eakin was at his best last night...again. This 16 year-old is an impact player every night on the ice. We threw the 2nd star at him just behind Levi who potted a pair in the win.

The guys from Shaw TV asked me who to look out for on the Broncos side. I'm not sure they knew who Cody Eakin was. They do now.

--------------------

Former Broncos Dean Serdachny and Andy Schneider were in attendance... so was Riders new #1 quarterback Marcus Crandell. All three got a good cheer from the I-plex faithful.

Tonight, Broncos Hall of Famer Todd Holt will be in the rink. He's been e-mailing me for a week now. Safe to say he's super excited for this Broncos team. Holty is going to be our 2nd intermission guest. Another Bronco alumnus, Tim Tisdale will provide the color commentary duties for the 2nd time in the playoffs on our broadcast. Ryan is MC'ing an event in town and has to miss this one.

I better get some prep and pre-game show work donet. I'll have some quotes and other tidbits after the weekend's two game set.


Jon

Friday, April 04, 2008

Final Thoughts / Chynoweth Weighs In / Watt Speaks

- Just caught the Hitmen pre-game skate. Impressive. Five coaches/personnel took them through their paces including Head Coach and G.M Kelly Kisio and assistants Joel Otto and Dave Lowry.

- Side note, my first NHL autograph came from Joel Otto. I was 12 and he was playing for Team U.S.A in a Canada Cup exhibition game in Saskatoon in 1991. He was the only player who came out afterwards.


Press Release:

Dates For Game 4 & 5 Announced


The first five dates of the series have now been released with a complete series schedule to follow at a later date.
Game #1 - Friday, April 4th @ Swift Current (7:30 pm)
Game #2 - Saturday, April 5th @ Swift Current (7:30 pm)
Game #3 - Tuesday, April 8th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)
Game #4 - Wednesday, April 9th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)
Game #5 - Friday, April 11th @ Calgary (7:00 pm)*
Game #6 - To be determined*
Game #7 - To be determined*

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Broncos Head Coach and G.M Dean Chynoweth talked about this 2nd round series yesterday:


On the series format (2-3-1-1)...

I really like it. I think it's great. I think we have lots of momentum coming out of that last series winning the last three games. There's a buzz in town and we want to keep that buzz up.


On match up....

They have a lot of depth and that's the one thing we have said we have. It'll be interesting to see that match up. We like it with the forwards meaning that they feel they have three solid lines, we feel we have three solid line especially with how the kids have been playing.

On the back-end, obviously when you have a guy like Karl Alzner, we don't have that type of player. We hope to get some guys back in healthy during this series. We're going to have to really limit their opportunities. They (Calgary) generally outshot their opposition in every game and they don't give up a lot of shots.


On the injury front...

I don't know if we will have Felde or Dudas for games one or two but they should be real close to playing next week. Obviously Dudas will have a playing cast on as everyone knows he had a broken wrist and Felde is coming off the badly bruised knee after blocking a shot (against Regina). We would like to have them sooner but we also have to make sure they can contribute and are able to play at the level we need them too.


On the buzz around the city...

Just tremendous. I think you can't give the fans enough kudos. The way they followed us on the road in Regina, they way they've filled the building here. You can talk about it to the kids and you can tell them what it's going to be like but until they experience it they really don't know.
That's the nice thing about our hockey club right now, they are focused. They are excited about moving on to round two, excited about being the underdog and having a tall mountain to climb here... that's what playoffs are all about.


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Finally I was alerted to a Facebook group entitled "J.D. Watt Official Diving Team Fan Club". Some local fans started the group on the social network during round one of the playoffs.

The latest member to join? None other that J.D himself. He left this message for the group.

"haha thanks for the welcoming. congratz to you the fans and the broncos for beating us in the first round.you have a great team and even better fans. Take care and good luck!"

We're on the air tonight at 7pm with the pre-game show. Face-off I've been told has been pushed back to about 7:37pm to accommodate the Shaw TV broadcast.

Talk to you tonight!

Jon

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bulletin Board-able?

Finally a little heat in this Hitmen/Broncos series which has been a virtual love-in heading in....


"Coming from Swift, a team that didn't really want us,...It's always fun to play against the old team . . . to kind of prove a point and say, 'You might have made a mistake in this trade. "

- Paul Postma / Calgary Herald

That statement suprises me a little...

"At times, I've had my way with them."

- Ryan White talking about his career meetings against the Broncos / Calgary Sun

Classic Ryan White. A player who does a lot of talking on the ice. Mostly to referees. Watch that game within a game this weekend.

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Let's talk about "the trade".

Personally speaking, I think it was a benefit for both teams. The Hitmen got more than the Broncos could/would have ever get out of Bortis and vice-versa for Keegan Dansereau.

The Broncos had an influx of 18 year-old defenseman and shipped Postma to Calgary to acquire Brett Plouffe who was one-touched to Tri-City for 20 year-old speedster Erik Felde. The move was used to add some punch and speed up-front. Misson accomplished.

Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun called it a "lopsided trade" in a recent article. I think if he looked closer, he would see it's a deal that has worked out for both teams. Both Dansereau and Bortis have been key players for their respective teams so far in the playoffs.

I'll have a interview transcript with Dean Chynoweth later...

Jon

Hitmen Prepare for Rowdy Rink

Scott Fisher of the Calgary Herald had this today. Check out the comments from Paul Postma and Kyle Bortis.

http://calsun.canoe.ca/Sports/Hockey/2008/04/03/5180836-sun.html


The Latest From the Broncos Office....

There are no tickets left for tomorrow night's game for the rest of the day. Any unclaimed season tickets will be turned over tomorrow morning at 9am.

There was about 100 left for Saturday night's game....

Broncos office: 773 - 1509. Give Carol and Brenda a call and make sure you're nice to them....

Jon

One More Day....

The Calgary Hitmen are set to arrive in Swift Current later today to prepare for games one and two tomorrow and Saturday night.

A lot of people are talking about the series format of 2-3-1-1. Who has the advantage, what are the dis-advantages. Honestly, I don't think it matters now. The Broncos are 2-1 in the playoffs both on home ice and the road. Calgary is 3-0 on the road while 1-2 at home.

In the regular season, Calgary posted an almost identical home/road record 24-10-1-1 at the Saddledome and 23-10-0-3 as the visitors.

On the Broncos side, playing on the road seems to make this team more relaxed. Plus with six Calgary kids on the roster, going to Calgary has to feel like home anyways.

Conclusion? The series format is irrelevant.

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There will be several games within a game this series but perhaps none bigger than Broncos goaltender Travis Yonkman and former Bronco and midget "AAA" teammate Kyle Bortis.

"We've been best friends off the ice, growing up together. We won a National Midget Championship together. We've texted each other wishing each other well in the series. We want this both equally as much as one another. Hopefully the right team will prevail." -Travis Yonkman

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- Bronco fans are being encouraged to stick around after the game and join the Eagle 94.1 FM and members of the Broncos for a question and answer round table in the Canadian Room. We will do it both nights. Ryan and I will be the hosts.

- Come to think of it, Ryan will be there Friday night only. He agreed to M.C. that Novice Body Building Event going on. Tim Tisdale is handling color commentary duties Saturday night on our broadcast.

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Apparently that little April Fools prank I blogged about yesterday is getting some play. I received a ton of text messages over that one from friends and Broncos staff.

Even Kristen from the Calgary Herald called me up and wanted to include the story in the Herald's series preview. She said she saw it on the blog and thought it was neat. I told her to knock herself out, go for it...

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Bronco season ticket holders have until 5pm today to pick up their tickets at the Broncos office before they are released to the public tomorrow morning at 9am. I plan to check in over there to see just how many tickets are left for games one and two. Give them a call 773 - 1509.

See you at the rink,

Jon