It's back at it full force today as the Broncos hit the road for Calgary to play the Hitmen. It's one of those "back to the grind days" as the day started at 5am with the local sports run and morning show and will end sometime around 2am in a Red Deer hotel as the Broncos bus on to the north after the game.
As for the game, Broncos Captain Derek Claffey knows they are in for a battle with the top team overall in the WHL standings with 95 points.
"They are a tough team but I don't think by any means they are out of our league," commented Claffey.
"We are going to have to battle. We have some injuries and some guys are out of the line-up so others will have to step up," he added.
"We have a lot of players from the Calgary area that I know will be bringing their "A" game."
The Hitmen are the only team in the Conference the Broncos haven't beaten this season. They are 0-3 in the head-to-head series.
Even though it's probably bad for business (radio), I'll tell you the game is on Sportsnet tonight. I think Pete Loubardias is handling the duties for Sportsnet. I hope to catch up to him for a pre-game interview. When it comes to junior hockey, I'm not sure I know a more passionate guy.
Our pre-game show is at 7:30pm, play-by-play shortly after 8pm.
The Prince Albert Raiders won last night to keep their playoff hopes alive. A 3-2 win in Red Deer moved them within five points of the 8th place Broncos with five games to play for both teams.
Moose Jaw picked up a shootout loss in Medicine Hat. The Warriors are two points up on the Broncos for 7th with a game-in-hand. The Broncos and Warriors meet in the final weekend of the season in a home-and-home.
F Michael Stickland got some big recognition this week as the WHL and CHL Player of the Week. Good for Stick. He recently played through an injury that not many knew about. He plays hard every game. Good to see him get some love from the league.
He's on a roll... nine points in his last three games
I feel bad for former Bronco D Eric Doyle. As many know, he took a nasty hit from Tri-City Americans F Todd Kennedy. The blow to the head has knocked him out of the line-up indefinitely. They don't even know if he will play again this season.
The hit drew a seven game suspension from the WHL - the longest punishment handed out this season.
By my count that's his 2nd concussion this season and third in less than a year. He took a blindside hit in Swift Current early this season from C.J. Stretch of the Kamloops Blazers. That hit drew a four game suspension.
This stuff just makes me sick.
I would love to see Eric back at some point in the playoffs for the Winterhawks.
If the Broncos can get to the post-season it's still a bit clouded as to what their options are for playing their "home games".
I've been out of the loop for awhile now but it seems the thought of playing all seven games in the opposition's rink is starting to lose a little steam.
The likelihood of a Lethbridge Enmax Center home base appears to be a stronger option. At this point I'm not sure what other WHL teams out of the playoff mix would wave their territorial rights. Would Regina do it? I will have an update later today when I get a chance to spend some time around the team.
Colorman Tim Tisdale passed me in the air over the Atlantic somewhere between Regina and the Dominican Tuesday night. He's off to Barbados.
In fact he's on the golf course this morning. I already told him he's not allowed to get too mad for his first round of the year. Tiz is a player though. He can get around a course pretty good at around a 3 handicap.
As for my trip, it was a blast.
We found Canada's Olympic hockey games on TV at the Hard Rock Cafe in Punta Cana - a 10 minute cab ride from our resort. The gold medal game with 300 fellow Canadians was surreal. We took over the place and drowned out the handful of Americans in the place. I was hoping to have some pics to post from the celebrations but they're not in my hands as of yet.
I couldn't believe the amount of Red and White all over Punta Cana. In fact, the locals were calling it "Punta Canada" on gold medal Sunday.
It was a little tough to find Bronco news. I didn't know the outcome of the Regina/Broncos game on the Friday until Saturday night some time when I turned on my phone to get a text from Tizzy that read "that's one win without you"
I got some Internet time in Sunday morning and was pretty excited to see the guys posted wins over Regina and Vancouver. It was great to see guys like Jordan Peddle, Kyle Verdino and Joel Rogers scores some key goals. Some scoring depth was no doubt a welcomed treat.
Then Tuesday night at about 2:30am, I was on my phone while the plane taxied into the terminal trying to find out the info on the WHL mobile site of the 2nd Regina/Broncos match-up.
Here's a shot of our scuba dive in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Catalina Island.
I think that's me 2nd from the right. We're about 15 metres down here.
I was told we got to about 25 metres below the surface.
Speaking of the Olympics...
What a nice touch from NBC host Brian Williams. His Olympic experience in Vancouver and Canada was obviously a fantastic one. He left a thank-you note which has been making it's round through e-mail.
If you haven't seen it, I thought I would share it with you:
After tonight's broadcast and after looting our hotel mini-bars, we're going to try to brave the blizzard and fly east to home and hearth, and to do laundry well into next week. Before we leave this thoroughly polite country, the polite thing to do is leave behind a thank-you note.
Thank you, Canada:
For being such good hosts.
For your unfailing courtesy.
For your (mostly) beautiful weather.
For scheduling no more than 60 percent of your float plane departures at the exact moment when I was trying to say something on television.
For not seeming to mind the occasional (or constant) good-natured mimicry of your accents.
For your unique TV commercials -- for companies like Tim Hortons -- which made us laugh and cry.
For securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon.
For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the games -- you've made wearing your name a cool thing to do.
For the sportsmanship we saw most of your athletes display.
For not honking your horns. I didn't hear one car horn in 15 days -- which also means none of my fellow New Yorkers rented cars while visiting.
For making us aware of how many of you have been watching NBC all these years.
For having the good taste to have an anchorman named Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy.
For the body scans at the airport which make pat-downs and cavity searches unnecessary.
For designing those really cool LED Olympic rings in the harbor, which turned to gold when your athletes won one.
For always saying nice things about the United States...when you know we're listening.
For sharing Joannie Rochette with us.
For reminding some of us we used to be a more civil society.
Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.
Broncos and Hitmen tonight from the 'Dome. Pre-game at 7:30pm, play-by-play just after 8pm