Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday

It's a much needed week off for the Broncos who won't play until Friday night when they host the Regina Pats.

The break will be just as much of a mental one than physical. The boys have played a lot of hockey in February. It's been an absolute grind. The days off will also be good for all those bumps and nagging injuries.

F Matt Tassone may be ready to go by the weekend while D Reece Scarlett will be out a little longer.

The Broncos are stinging from a 3-2 loss last night against Prince Albert (see game recap below). Assistant Coach Tim Kehler was frustrated in our post-game show.

"It's inexplicable," commented Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler on the Eagle 94.1's post-game show.

"You peel some paint (in the dressing room) after 40 minutes and then you get a response for the third. It's very little consolation to come up short in a game we pissed away in a period of play."

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Cody Eakin played a great game despite some personal turmoil. Cody's grandfather past away on the weekend. I've been told they were very close. Cody scored and added an assist in the loss and was chosen as the game's 2nd star.

My condolences to the Eakin family.


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This isn't a Rider news blog by any stretch of the imagination but running back Wes Cates had some interesting things to say regarding his future with the Riders. He was one of the guest speaker's at the Field of Dreams Sportsmans Dinner Saturday night.

"Technically I'm not a Rider as we speak," said Cates of his free-agent status.

"Hopefully we can get something done and on paper but maybe my time is up. Hopefully not, I've enjoyed my time but you never know."

Cates admitted they contacted the Riders last week but as of Saturday night he hadn't heard anything from them.

Sounds like he's done. In talking to him it just felt like he had played his final game with the Green and White.

Cates did a great job and was very honest with his assessment of Rider players and coaches when he took questions from those in the crowd.

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Back to Bronco news now... former Head Coach Randy Smith was our pre-game show guest last night. He had his "AAA" Saskatoon Blazers in town to play the Legionnaires this weekend.

Of course I asked him about his time...and his dismissal after just one season as Head Coach in the 03/04 season.

"It's kind of weird honestly (to be back). When you're here for four years and then come back it's kind of strange to tell you the truth. Not a lot has changed though. It's good to be back. We enjoyed our time here and it's unfortunate that it didn't last a little longer."

Randy was miffed following his 2004 dismissal and didn't have much to say at the time. Now, talking about what happened it appears there are still some unanswered questions.

"The hockey business is a funny game. There is far better coaches than Randy Smith that have lost their jobs, there's far worse coaches that have kept their job. I haven't really spent a lot of time focusing on it. Would I have liked to stay and been given a longer opportunity...of course. I think any coach that leaves somewhere wants to finish that job.

It didn't happen, I don't really know that exact reasons of why and how and what and all that. It ended and I moved on."

I appreciated Randy sitting down for the "60 Minutes" type interview. Randy and Rene Lemire are running the Blazers. It was good to see Rene too. He was always a friendly guy on the WHL circuit when he was with the Warriors.

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That's it for me... the blog will be on hiatus for the next eight or nine days. Thanks for checking in from time to time.

Good luck to the guys over the next stretch of games. Hopefully they can turn it around on home ice and get it done this coming weekend against Regina and Vancouver.

Talk to you next week,

Jon

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Home Ice Struggles

It's getting to be old hat lately for the Broncos and their fans.

The Broncos fell to 2-9 on home ice so far in 2010 after a soft effort that didn't match a determined Prince Albert Raiders who were playing like there playoff lives were on the line.

Michael Stickland opened the scoring driving the net as a Cody Eakin pass deflected off Stickland's skate. The Raiders Ryan Button tied it just 1:56 later.

Outshot 18-4 in the 2nd period, the Broncos allowed a pair of goals to put them down 3-1 after 40 minutes.

The Broncos rallied in the third to get back within one on Cody Eakin's 41st of the season. Despite outshooting the Raiders 17-9 in the third, the Broncos couldn't tie the game. The 2nd period was really their undoing.

The Raiders outshot the Broncos 47-40. 47 shots against tied the most the team has given up this season.

The Broncos remain 7th in the Eastern Conference but their play this weekend lacked the urgency of a team in a playoff battle. Prince Albert and Chilliwack came in and simply wanted it more in our building.

You could see how big of a win it was for the Raiders. C Dustin Cameron turned around to acknowledge Head Coach / GM Bruno Campese with a high five as the buzzer sounded.


Now is not the time for moral victories or "picking out the positives". It's simply a time to play hard, show-up and earn a win.

Big One Tonight / Special Guest on Pre-Game Show

The Swift Current Broncos host the Prince Albert Raiders tonight at the Credit Union i-plex in a crucial battle for playoff positioning.

The Broncos sit 7th in the Eastern Conference with the Raiders 9th - just three points back of the Broncos after a big overtime win against Moose Jaw last night.

Moose Jaw lost in Medicine Hat last night to remain two points back of the Broncos. They still have three games in hand.

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Face-off at 7:00pm, pre-game show on the Eagle 94.1 FM at 6:30pm. On tonight's pre-game show, former Broncos Head Coach Randy Smith will be our guest.

Smith was let go after one season behind the bench in the 03/04 season. He is now the head coach of the Saskatoon "AAA' Blazers of the SMHAAAL who are in the city this weekend taking on the Legionnaires to wrap up the regular season.

The 03/04 season still makes me think back to what might have been. A dominant team to start the year with the two top scorers, the team fizzled down the stretch and was first round playoff fodder against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Many people look back to the big trade at the deadline which saw the Broncos ship D Aaron Rome and F Aaron Richards to Moose Jaw for G Blake Grenier, F Derek Krestanovich and a young D Michael Busto.

We will look back upon that season and hear what Randy is up to now.

Jon


Friday, February 19, 2010

Chilli-Whacked

For the first time since January 26th, 2007 the Broncos were shutout on home ice - a span of 113 games.

A lifeless 0/8 powerplay which included a 1:00 and 1:39 long 5-on-3 and a third period double minor was the demise on this night. Throw in a solid 31 save shutout from Lucas Gore in the Bruins crease and you have the makings for a frustrating home ice loss.

The Bruins picked up two powerplay goals from Jaime Crooks and a 2nd period goal from Shayne Neigum.

All four all-time meetings between the clubs have ended in a shutout with the Broncos winning the first three.

It was the worst PP performance of the season for the Broncos but Chilliwack had a lot to do with it. Their tenacious play and effective PK kept the Broncos at bay.

The win I'm sure feels good for local product Marc Habcheid. His team played hard and smart.

They head down the road to Regina to play the Pats tomorrow night. The Broncos have tomorrow night off befoe hosting Prince Albert in a big game Sunday night.

Beat Breast Cancer Jerseys


Broncos New Threads

The Broncos will wear special edition Beat Breast Cancer jerseys tonight against the Chilliwack Bruins. They will debut them before face-off - not in warm-ups.

They look great. I have pics but they've been embargoed until the game starts. The special edition pink jersey's will be auctioned off after the game.

Come and check them out. Face-off at 7:30pm

Friday Randoms

Apparently the "randoms" are the most popular on this blog....so here goes a Friday edition...


The Chilliwack Bruins kick-off their east-division swing tonight in Swift Current by taking on the Broncos. The Bruins have been in the city since Wednesday. I heard they went for a skate in Wymark yesterday. It's the town most recognized as the hometown of Bruins Head Coach / GM Marc Habscheid.

I was told the Bruins were busy making their rounds across the city yesterday. Should be an interesting one tonight.

The Bruins have never scored on the Broncos in their short-history. The Broncos haven't allowed a goal in nine periods. Call this a jinx if you want, I said the same thing last year before the game in the 'Whack. G Mark Guggenberger made all 30 saves in the Broncos crease.

Face-off at 7:30pm

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The injury bug is starting to hamper the team. Already without F Matt Tassone for the next two weeks, D Reece Scarlett has suffered a wrist injury and will be lost for about three weeks.

Sure Scarlett is 16 years-old, but he's a top-four defenseman who plays a ton.

D Joel Rogers remains out with a concussion. The timetable for his return isn't known.

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Former Bronco Head Coach Randy Smith is in the city this weekend. He's the head coach of the Saskatoon Blazers of the Sask "AAA" midget hockey league. The Blazers play the Legionnaires in a two-game set. For the Legionnaires it will be their final action of the year.

Is Randy still a bit bitter by his end-of-season departure after the 03/04 season? There was no doubt some hard feelings after "Black Monday" when the Broncos Board of Directors made wholesale changes at the top.

I hope to catch up with him sometimes this weekend.

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It was a fun night at the i-plex as the Broncos hosted their skills challenge. Like in previous years the guys didn't take it all that serious.

F Cody Eakin, the favorite going into the fastest skater event, blew a tire on the 2nd turn and went down. It opened the door for Taylor Vause to edge Brad Hoban for the title. Just for fun, Eakin took a lap after the fact and posted the fastest time...

16 year-old rookie D Graeme Craig won the hardest shot competition in a tie-breaker. Both Craig and Eakin posted shots of 88 mph in the first round. Craig one-upped the Broncos star in the tie-breaker.

Later, Craiger told me he could have broke 90. Just wait till he's 19.

F Stepan Novotny scored the nicest goal in the breakaway challenge. He skated in, dropped to his knees, stick-handled, got back up on his skates and then finished low blocker.

Novotny turned the tables on me after the event. Our Shaw TV crew took in the skills challenge to tape an episode of the "Inside Edge". Novo took his turn interviewing me about the crushing Team Jon defeat in the Breakfast Boys Challenge. He did a good job... we will have to see how it turns out

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Some people are questioning Team Canada Head Coach Mike Babcock's decision to have Sidney Crosby shoot twice in last night's 3-2 SO win over Switzerland. To this I say are you kidding me??

How can you 2nd guess a winning move? I think it took a lot of guts to send Crosby right back out there with all the talented players on the Canadian bench. I say great move by Babcock.

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I think I miss Steve Armitage.

The veteran CBC commentator is the usual voice for speed skating at the Olympic Winter Games. But, with CBC on the sidelines for the 2010 Vancouver games we are hearing a lot of new voices this time around.

Rod Smith is handling the speed skating. It's just not the same.

It would also be nice to have a little Bob Cole of Jim Hughson call some of the hockey but that won't happen. For me, Chris Cuthbert is still king. He's handling Men's Hockey along with Gord

Who gets the gold medal game? For those not in the media field it may not really matter. If you're in the business, you know that's major assignment. A chance to call history and maybe even leave a legacy. It will be interesting to see who it is....


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Olympic day-time host James Duthie is slick. He's the new Ron Maclean.

Ron is a legend. I swear he had a god-like glow to him when he hosted Hockey Day in Canada from Shaunavon a few years back. There was just this aura emanating from him. It was impressive.

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Here's how it's NOT done. Check out this major mistake by NBC covering the games.



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Random observation: When it comes to hockey, there may not be a better feeling than winning on the road.

After going 0-8-0-2 on the road to start the season, the Broncos have seemingly figured it out. They are 15-7-0-2 since.

I'm quite sure nothing beats it in the hockey world.

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The folks in Lethbridge are sure getting excited with the prospects of WHL playoff hockey in their city. There's a chance the Broncos could use the Enmax Center for home playoff games if they can get to the post-season and the situation fits.

It has the media talking anyways. I think Lethbridge fans would adopt the Broncos as the "home team" if the situation was right. Especially if the Broncos end up playing Medicine Hat or Calgary in the opening round.

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If there is someone more excited about the Olympics than Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler I haven't met him.

T.K. has taken a bit of an ownership with the games seeing they are in his hometown.

Speaking of Tim, he's in training for a marathon which he'll run this summer. Between all his duties with the team, he's still finding time to pound out the miles.

I thought I would join him for his "Up-tempo" run this week in Cranbrook. I knew I was in trouble early when his starting pace resembled my"last 100 metre everything you have left in the tank" pace.

We rolled together for maybe 800 meters before gearing down to my pace...after that, he was gone. I met him back in the hotel about a half hour later.

I should have known better. After all he's built like an athlete and I'm built...well, like a radio guy I suppose.


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Two more Bronco broadcasts for me this weekend and then Ken Audette slides into the play-by-play chair for a three-game home stretch.

I haven't missed a Bronco game/broadcast in last seven years. It's kind of my personal claim to fame. I may have mentioned that to a few friends over the years.

Hopefully the warm Punta Cana, Dominican sun will take away this sense that I'm leaving the team. It does help they've played well the last couple weeks and have earned a five-point playoff cushion after being three points out of the mix in January.

I've been blessed with good health...I haven't missed a day of work in 10 years. But it's time.

I told egendary broadcaster of the Tigers Bob Ridley about my trip last weekend. If he has any regrets over the years it's that he didn't take enough time for himself.

Rids has been going at it for 40 years...driving the bus too. He's missed one game.

By the way, he's writing a book of his experiences. I can't wait to read it.

Have a great weekend,

Jon


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Skills Challenge Results...

From scbroncos.com


The Broncos held their annual Tim Hortons Skills Challenge with Team Chance emerging as the winners.

The Breakfast Boys, Chance and Jon from the Eagle 94.1 were the guest coaches as Team Chance beat Team Jon 36-16 in the skills competition. The Broncos and members of Swift Current Minor Hockey players competed in the fastest skater, hardest shot, accuracy and the breakaway relay.

Taylor Vause won the fastest skater with a time of 13.73, Graeme Craig had the hardest shot at 89 MPH, Andy Blanke won the accuracy challenge with 9 targets hit in 12.33 seconds and Mark Friesen won the battle of the goaltenders.


Broncos Skills Comp Tonight

6pm start at the Credit Union i-plex.... should be a fun event.


Jon



Broncos Move into 7th

Stepan Novotny scored twice while Justin Dowling added a goal and two helpers to pace the Broncos to a 4-1 win in Lethbridge.

The game concludes a successful mid-week two game road trip in which the Broncos won in Kootenay and Lethbridge to gain a bit of elbow room in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Broncos third win in a row moves them into sole possession of 7th place in the Conference and a full five points clear of a playoff spot over 9th place Prince Albert.

Another Bronco goaltender was on top of his game. This time it was Mark Friesen’s turn. He made 29 saves and played a pretty cool game in the crease.

D Derek Claffey opened the scoring in the 2nd period on the PP. He would later add two assists.

The Broncos have been in lock-down mode lately. They’ve surrendered only three goals in the last three games and six in their last five games. It was an area for concern in the month of January.

The club also improves to 13-7-0-2 in their last 22 road games. This after starting the season winless in ten away from the Credit Union I-plex.

Getting back to goaltending, either Mark Friesen or Morgan Clark have been in our broadcast’s three-star selection in eight of the last nine games. Their numbers have been sensational.

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I was a big hit up in the press box tonight. Elaine Lowry’s homemade skor bars were a hit with the rest of the media folk. There was plenty left for the ride home. She should patent that recipe. Thanks again.

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The Broncos host the Chilliwack Bruins Friday night to begin a five game homestand. In their short history, the Chilliwack Bruins have never scored a goal against the Broncos in nine periods. Travis Yonkman has blanked them twice while Mark Guggenberger followed suit in Chilliwack last season.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broncos 2 Ice 1

It was perhaps one of the best road games the Broncos played all season. Maybe effective is a better term.

The Broncos played an entire 60 minutes and held on at the end for a big 2-1 road victory. The win snapped Kootenay's stretch of 12-0-0-1 in their last 13 home games.

It was also the Broncos 4th straight win in Cranbrook going back to last season.

Justin Dowling scored in the 1st over the shoulder of Ice G Todd Mathews after the Broncos showed jump out of the gates.

The Ice tied in the 2nd period on PP when former Bronco James Martin came off the blue-line to poke home a loose puck to tie it 3:38 into the 2nd.

The Broncos scored on a 5-on-3 powerplay on a one-time blast from D Travis Bobbee at 12:01 in the 2nd. Sensing the big moment, Broncos Head Coach / GM Mark Lamb called a time-out midway through the 5-on-3 advantage. The Broncos drew up the play and executed to take back the lead.

The Ice pushed in the final minute with a 6-on-4 powerplay with the goalie pulled. G Morgan Clark (who wasn't chosen as a star in the rink) made a spectacular couple of saves to preserve the win.

Game over.

Clark took some verbal jabs from Ice G Todd Mathews during the radio time-out in the 2nd period with the score tied 1-1 as the two teams went to their benches for the 90 second break. Clark responded by shutting the door the rest of the way while the next shot Mathews faced beat him five-hole. Turned out it was the game winner.

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Broncos F Matt Tassone didn't make the trip. A groin strain will keep him out of the line-up for two weeks.

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This is Sarah and Taryn. The two daughters of Bronco scout Albert Van Hoek who is based out of Cranbrook. They took in the game tonight dressed in their Bronco gear. They came for a visit to the broadcast booth in the 2nd intermission.

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The broadcast location in Cranbrook is in a real tricky spot. It's right beside the Chynoweth family box. They can hear everything you say I'm assuming.
Speaking of Chynoweth, I saw an old New York Islanders #3 Chynoweth jersey in the souvenir store. I should have taken a picture. Not sure if was for sale or not...
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Kootenay Coach Mark Hollick is one of the good ones... Coach of the Year in the Eastern Conference? The case could be made.
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A rare chance for Flames Assistant Coach Dave Lowry to see his son Adam play. The Flames and the rest of the NHL are on their Olympic break. Wife Elaine stopped by to drop off more goodies.
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Things worked out really well in our 2nd intermission tonight. From time-to-time we go "ice surfing" around the WHL. We checked in on our affiliate's broadcast out of Moose Jaw. James Gallo had the call on Country 100.7 FM as the Warriors played in Tri-City tonight.

We went live to his broadcast in the first period. I fired him a text to tell him we were listening in. He gave a shout out to all those listening back home on the Eagle 94.1. Good work James. We checked in just as the Warriors tied it on the PP late in the first period.
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Always good to see the former Broncos on the Kootenay squad. The Broncos traded three quality individuals to the Ice in Christian Magnus, James Martin and Ryan Molle.

After Martin scored tonight he had a long look into the Broncos bench at Cody Eakin. The two are good friends and played minor hockey together back in Winnipeg.


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Alright that's it for tonight... more tomorrow.

Jon


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Family Day Travel....

I guess it's only fitting that I spend this Family Day Monday traveling with my winter family down the road.

The team departs later today for Cranbrook to begin another hellish week in the February schedule. Tuesday night vs the Ice, Wednesday in Medicine Hat, Thursday is the Broncos skills challenge, Friday the Chilliwack Bruins are here, Sunday the Broncos host Prince Albert... and so it begins.

Speaking of the Chilliwack Bruins... as has been a tradition when Marc Habscheid was with Kelowna, his team will practice in a small town rink. The Bruins will practice in Wymark (about 10km south of Swift Current) and have a gathering Thursday before the Friday night game.

The Bruins have some other local connections including former "AAA" midget Legionnaires Zack Habscheid and Shayne Neigum.
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Bronco defenseman continue to be suspension magnets this season. The latest hit on a Bronco d-man to draw a suspension happened Friday night in Brandon. Scott Glennie sat one game for his elbow on D Reece Scarlett.

By my count, Bronco defenseman have been on the receiving end of five hits that have led to a suspension issued from the WHL.
D Joel Rogers continues to be out after taking a hit Tuesday from Mackenzie Royer of the Calgary Hitmen which drew three games. Here's a photo (below) of that hit courtesy the swbooster.com



Frankly, I'm sick of it being open season on Bronco defenders. A little onus though has to be on the Bronco defensemen to not put themselves in vulnerable positions. It's a fine art, the elite defensemen rarely have this happen to them because they have such good body position and take better lines back to recover pucks. That make sense?


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I did the math awhile ago in my head when it comes to the playoff race. Looking at everyone's
schedules (PA, MJ, REG, SC) I maintain that .500 from this point with the exception of Regina will get a team to the post-season. All four teams aren't exactly blazing a trail to the post-season in the last couple weeks. Moose Jaw has two wins in their last 12 games, The Raiders have lost four in a row. Regina and the Broncos just broke three game slides Saturday night.

The Broncos play those three teams twice down the stretch. That will go a long ways in deciding things. The Pats have a long road, basically because they are chasing two teams to get into the post-season. There will be nights where the teams they are chasing play each other...someone is guaranteed to get points.

Consider this, if it comes down to the final weekend, the Broncos and Warriors have a home and home set while the Pats play Brandon twice. Someone will get points out of both SC/MJ games guaranteed.

Further to that, do you think the Wheat Kings will be taking their foot of the gas in the final weekend if they have a chance to eliminate the Pats from post-season contention? Not a chance. In fact I think Kelly would have his guys pretty amped up for that opportunity.

Whatever happens, it's going to be a lot of fun the next four weeks....

Jon



Friday, February 12, 2010

Broncos Blanked

Andrew Hayes Made all 30 saves as the Brandon Wheat Kings shutout the Broncos 3-0 at Westman Place. It's only the 2nd time the Broncos have been shutout - both times in Brandon.

The turning point of the game may have come early in the third period. The Broncos had a 5-on-3 for a full 1:54 only down 1-0. With A major penalty dished out to Scott Glennie for a check-from-behind on Reece Scarlett and a Brent Raedeke hooking call, the Broncos had a great chance to tie the game.

It didn't happen. The 5-on-3 didn't generate the goal and like you see many times over, it usually is a turning point.

Toni Rajala scored with eight minutes to play and Raedeke scored into an empty-net in the final seconds for the 3-0 final.

The Broncos couldn't take advantage of a rare dopey-looking Brandon Wheat-Kings. The Wheat Kings didn't have their "A" game but in the end, good teams still find a way to win.

Mark Friesen was superb in goal for the Broncos. He made 39 saves in the loss.

D Reece Scarlett left the game in the third period for stitches after the Glennie hit. He did return later in the period.

D Jordan Evans left the game after the 1st and didn't return (undisclosed).

The Broncos host the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday night. Face-off at 7:30pm


Jon

Calm Before the Storm....

Countdown to face-off in Brandon


Greetings From Brandon....

It's the Broncos and Wheat Kings tonight as they wrap up their six-game season series. A win by the Broncos would pull them even as Brandon is 3-2 in head-to-head match-ups.



The team skated earlier today in between minor hockey games for the world famous Tournament of Champions which has taken over the city this weekend. There are so many atom teams here it's unbelievable. They've taken over the hotel. Mini-sticks hockey in every hallway, hockey parents and coaches everywhere...nuts.



I spoke with Justin Dowling today for a pre-game interview about it.



"We got knock-knock gingered about five times by these kids (in the hotel). We ended up catching one of them....saw him running away and scampering down the stairs. Some others asked us if we could play some mini-sticks in the hallway...they've definitely taken over the hotel."



We rode the elevator up with the Moose Jaw Atom Warriors. They were just about to play Estevan in their third game of the tourney.





It looks like a lot of fun anyways.....



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The Broncos should get captain Derek Claffey back tonight. He's missed the last four games with a head injury. He will be a game-time decision. D Joel Rogers didn't make the trip. He's suffered a concussion on that hit from Calgary's Mackenzie Royer which drew a double minor in Tuesday's game.



The league announced today Royer would be suspended three games. It's little consolation though. Rogers will be out indefinitely.



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A note from junior sports reporter and blog correspondent Terry Pavely. He's the head coach of the "AAA" female midget Wildcats:



"The Swift Current Wildcats are going on quite the road trip this weekend as they travel to Shattuck's St. Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota to play a few exhibition games against the well known hockey factory that has produced hockey greats such as Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise.



The trip is not just about playing hockey as the Wildcats will visit the Excel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild take on the Vancouver Canucks.



The Wildcats will also be touring the Ralph Engelsted Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota which is home to the University Of North Dakota Fighting Sioux men's and women's hockey teams. The Wildcats will get an opportunity to watch the Sioux women practice while on their tour."



Pretty cool stuff......



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Mark Lamb had an interesting quote about the current schedule today....



"If you sat back and said, let's design the hardest schedule possible...this would be it right now."



He added, "but you can't feel sorry for yourself, you just have to take it one game a time and not get to far ahead of yourself."



The Broncos race home after the game to host the Medicine Hat Tigers tomorrow night. Monday, the team leaves for Cranbrook for mid-week games against the Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes.



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We are on the air tonight at 7pm with the pre-game show on the Eagle 94.1 FM. Play-by-play at 7:30pm.



Lots of time to go across the street to the best little coffee house on the circuit. Really the only reason to leave the 17 acre Keystone Center.

Enjoy your Friday afternoon....

Jon



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Broncos Playoff Plan

Broncos Governor Ben Wiebe was on our pre-game show last night to update us on the Broncos plans for the 1st round of playoffs if the team can get into the post-season.

The Broncos don't have home playoff dates available for the opening round because of the Ford World Women's Curling Championships.

Have a listen. It will take a second to download the file.

I'm thinking the Broncos will have their hands full solving this one...

Click here

Broncos Earn a Point in Saskatoon

The Broncos were hoping a lone goal would stand-up for the winner....and it almost did.

Josh Nichols tied the game for the Blades with just under five minutes to play as he got in behind the defense for a breakaway. The goal ruined the shutout bid for Morgan Clark who was again brilliant in goal making 33 saves.

Overtime settled nothing - despite starting the session three on three for a full two minutes after coincidental penalties at the end of regulation.

In the shootout, both the Blades Jeremy Boyer and Marek Viedensky scored nice goals while both Brad Hoban and Cody Eakin were denied. I have a feeling you could be seeing Viedensky's goal on an upcoming highlight reel. He pulled a "Marek Malik" type move as he came in from right to left putting his stick between his legs before going upstairs on Morgan Clark.

The single point puts the Broncos into a tie for the final playoff with Moose Jaw and a point out of 7th spot held by Prince Albert. It was a good night on the scoreboard with the Raiders, Warriors and to a lesser extent the Pats all losing.

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I saw a sign in the stands held up by a young fan flash on the big screen at Credit Union Center last night... I didn't see what it said but I did see the name "Jon Keen...".

Later the Blades staff informed me it said "Jon Keen: Blades First Win???"

The sign must have been referencing a game last month between the two teams where the Blades in my opinion were over-celebratory in a win where emotions were high. I made the comment to the extent of "The Blades have won their first game of the season here tonight...". A tongue-in-cheek referral if you will.

Hey, I was just thrilled we have some out-of-town listeners. The sign was to have made it's way up to the media box...sadly I never saw it.

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The Broncos rolled back into Saskatoon at 1am last night. I was into the station at 5:30am for the morning sports run/morning show.

I'll put together the WHL This Week - Radio Edition, Cody Eakin and Michael Stickland are coming by the station to tape a promo interview for the upcoming Bronco Skills Challenge next Thursday night as the Breakfast Boys go head-to-head. Then a quick blog update and pack and it's back on the bus headed east to Brandon by 1pm this afternoon. February is some kind of a month on the schedule for WHL teams.

I think I'm on Morley Scott's Vancouver Giants radio show tonight to preview the Eastern Conference pending we get into Brandon before he goes to air. The G-men are coming through here later this month and will provide a good test for all six teams in the east.

Personally, I'm just looking forward to getting settled in at the "Bio-Dome" later tonight in Brandon. The Canad Inns attached to the rink means you never really have to venture outdoors in a usually chilly Brandon.

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If I have time today, I'll post my interview with Broncos Governor Ben Wiebe that ran in our pre-game show last night.

Pending if the Broncos make the playoffs, they will not have access to home playoff dates in the opening round because of the World Women's Curling Championships.

Just what the Broncos will do or where they will play those games is still a little up in the air. The topic was brought up at WHL Governor Meetings last week.

Ben will share the latest. The different scenarios and leg-work to move these games will be a huge challenge. I'll post it later today.



Jon









Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Former "AAA" Legionnaire Scary Injury

Here's a story on local hockey product Cody Thoring who is a former Swift Current "AAA" Legionnaires spent five seasons in the WHL.

Read it here


Jon

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Hitmen will be tough to stop....

Memo to the rest of the WHL: The Calgary Hitmen are playing their best hockey of the season and looking like a formidable force down the stretch.

The Hitmen barely broke a sweat in a convincing 6-1 win over the Broncos, handing them their biggest home ice loss of the season.

Calgary dominated all three periods, even when they called off the dogs up 5-1 in the third.

Granted the Broncos just didn't have it tonight, it was made worse by the fact the Hitmen played another solid game. Just six days ago they skated to a 2-1 win over the Broncos in Swift Current in a score that flattered the home team somewhat.

Calgary and Brandon for my money are the teams to beat in the East right now. The trade they made with Kamloops at the deadline to bring in Stebner, Bubnick and Shattock is starting to pay dividends.

Throw in a world class goaltender like Martin Jones (who backed-up tonight) and it makes them even more of a force.

I've seen some good teams this year, and Calgary is right there with all of them. It was their fifth win in a row.

Cody Eakin scored the lone Broncos goal on a PP in the 2nd period to get on the board with the Broncos trailing 3-0.

The Broncos are in Saskatoon Wednesday night.


Jon

Monday, February 08, 2010

More Accolades For Richardson

Swift Current Broncos 1st round pick Evan Richardson is the January co-player of the month in the BC Major Midget League.

Richardson was selected 15th over-all by the Broncos at last year's bantam draft.

He is currently leading the league in scoring as a 15 year old. It is the second time he has won this award becoming the 1st player to win it twice in 1 year.

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Monday Morning...

First up, Broncos F Cody Eakin got a nice plug on NBC yesterday afternoon.

It was the Ovechkin/Crosby showdown Sunday afternoon as Washington hosted Pittsburgh. Color analyst Pierre McGuire was talking about Washington's drafting record...

"Washington has lots of players on the cusp right now, they've drafted extremely well...including a goal-scoring machine in Swift Current right now by the name of Cody Eakin."

That's a pretty big audience on NBC across North America.

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Pictured above are the infamous rats thrown on the Brandt Center ice last time the Broncos played in Regina against the Pats.

Across them in white lettering are the words "Keen" and "Switz". Yes, we have big fans in Regina apparently!

Now I almost didn't post this as to "not to feed the animals" but it's pretty funny. Other broadcasters around the league are pretty pumped this happened.

The rat duo is actually now back in my hometown of Lanigan at my good friend Jason's house.

He got the pair from his brother who works with the video production team at Pats home games. The pics have been circulating a little bit on email.

Thanks Emery!

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SABOTAGE!


Both phones (regular phone line and in-house) in my broadcast booth were greased up with some sort of substance before Saturday's home game against Red Deer.

My colorman got an earful of the goo when he answered it during the pre-game show. I think it took him most of the weekend to get it all out.

The main suspects appear to be one of the i-plex employees from the city. I think the blog pic last week of me holding a lighter up as possible emergency lighting after the power outage caught their attention. Plus, no one has access to the booth other than myself, the Broncos and the City.

We were going to do some CSI investigation this week... Horatio is making his way into Swift Current this week and we are going to scour Facilities Manager Chris Poole's office for the substance....

Two words: It's on!

I messaged the mayor over the weekend, he denied any involvement.


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Lost in the 6-0 win over Red Deer Saturday night was Broncos G Morgan Clark torching his former team for 37 saves and the shutout.

"It always good to stick it to your former team," commented Morgan in our post-game show.

" The guys really helped out tonight. I only had to make a handful of good saves and other than that it was smooth sailing."

The Rebels deemed Clark expendable at last year's deadline going in favour of Darcy Kuemper in the 2nd half. Kuemper in his own right has had a very good season with them.

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So you want to work in the Western Hockey League? Glamorous you say? Not this week.

Here's the Broncos schedule: Tomorrow night host the Calgary Hitmen. Wednesday it's up to Saskatoon to play the Blades. Thursday, bus 6-7 hours to Brandon. Friday, take on the Wheat Kings at Westman Place. Bus directly home after the game arriving around 4am. Saturday, host the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The week after looks about the same with Kootenay and Lethbridge mid-week road games, the Broncos skills challenge and then a pair of weekend home games.

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In case you missed it yesterday, I posted the 2nd half of the post-game coaches show from Saturday night. See below if you're looking for a bit of a laugh to start your week....


Have a great day...


Jon

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Post Game Entertainment

In what's becoming a bit of a comedy hour post-game, Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler had a little fun with myself and Tim Tisdale in the Frontier Builder's Post-Game Coaches Show last night.

This is becoming the norm rather than the exception lately. Once the hard-hitting questions are over, the show becomes a bit of an open mic... a boots and salutes if you will.

Last night's topics included his SuperBowl chili, the Miami Vice wardrobe, the lack of hats on the ice after the Justin Dowling hat-trick, to questionable words in the broadcast. Have a listen... I chose not to include some zany, circus-like music in the background....


video
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Looks like it's a two horse race for the WHL ADT Goaltender of the Week. The Broncos Morgan Clark had an outstanding week but so did the Hitmen's Martin Jones.

Clark was 2-1 (the loss coming to the Hitmen Wednesday), his GAA was a paltry 0.98, he picked up two 1st star and one 2nd star selection,his save % was an impressive .972 and he posted his first shutout of the season.

Jones was 3-0, his GAA was .66, he picked up two 1st star selections, his save % .978 to go along with a shutout.

Super Bowl Sunday...

No big update today, I'll update tomorrow.

Lots of fun on the way though including a Bronco weekend recap, plastic rats, hats and broadcast booth sabotage... yes it was an interesting weekend.

More tomorrow!

Enjoy the game...

Jon



Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weekend Rolls On....

Great game last night, good win for the Broncos in Prince Albert.

The teams put on a good show for the fans at the Art Hauser Center. Barely any whistles in the third period as the team's exchanged chances in a 1-1 tie.

Matt Tassone stepped up in OT. He forced the turnover in the corner, came off the wall and ripped a shot low-blocker on Garret Zemlak. The team piled off the bench and celebrated with Matt in the far corner.

Even the coaching staff enjoyed the big win. I could clearly see a Mark Lamb "fist pump" from across the ice. Love it.

Both goaltenders were stellar. Morgan Clark picked up 1st star honours for his efforts. That's back-to-back solid outings by Clark.

The Bronco coaching staff says they will ride a hot goaltender out. I would expect Clark to get the call against his former team tonight when the Broncos host the Red Deer Rebels.

Another big one tonight.... Broncos and Rebels - face-off 7:30 from the Credit Union i-plex. Action on the Eagle begins at 7pm with the pre-game show.


Jon




Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hitmen 2 Broncos 1

Imagine a game where the Broncos get a sensational goaltending performance, keep the league's best powerplay in check and keep all of Calgary's big guns off the scoresheet.

You would expect to win that game right?

Calgary skated a 2-1 win to hand the Broncos their sixth consecutive home-ice loss. It was a game kept close thanks to the heroics of G Morgan Clark in the Bronco crease who made 34 saves - some of the spectacular variety.

The Hitmen had seven opportunities on the powerplay to the Broncos single chance. Normally this would be somewhat eyebrow raising but in this case powerplay chances really reflected the game.

Derek Claffey scored the only Broncos goal - it opened the scoring.

The Broncos play in Prince Albert tomorrow night to begin the biggest weekend of the season.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Emergency Lighting Upgrade

I'm ready for the power outage tonight....


Gameday Number Crunching

The Broncos will attempt to snap a five-game home ice losing skid tonight when they welcome the Calgary Hitmen to the Credit Union i-plex. 7:30pm face-off.

The Broncos are enduring one of their toughest home-ice stretches in awhile. Their longest home ice skid in recent memory was late in the 06/07 season when they dropped six in a row.

The Broncos have given up 24 goals in the last four home games - an average of six a game.

The Hitmen feature the league's best powerplay at 28.0% and the best penalty kill at 85.8%. On the flip side the Broncos powerplay is clicking at 7.4% in the last five games a 2/27 slump.

The Hitmen have won four of their last five entering tonight's contest and are coming off a 3-0 win over Tri-City Sunday at the Saddledome.

Taylor Vause has been hot for the Broncos, he's scored goals in each of his last three games. Cody Eakin. Eakin has also scored in each of the last three games for a league-leading 37 goals.

The Broncos are 2-7 on Wednesday's this season.

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This is the start of 13 games in the next 25 days for the Broncos who have a hellish month of February in front of them. Of the 13 games, eight are at home and five are on the road.

We're on the air at 7pm with tonight's pre-game show on the Eagle 94.1 FM

Jon

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Update

How the fortunes have turned....

The Broncos, who went 15-5 on home ice in the first half of the season, have struggled for wins on Credit Union i-plex ice so far in 2010. They went 1-5 on home ice in January. The Broncos were in every game but 3rd period letdowns have been the story.

Conversely, on the road, a team that was once 0-8-0-2 to start the year has now either won or got a point in six of their last seven games away from the i-plex.

It's hard to figure out....

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The Saskatoon Blades sure relished in a 7-4 win in Swift Current Saturday night... so much so I made the comment "the Saskatoon Blades have won their first game of the season....." at least it appeared that way from their on ice celebrating and stick-tapping on the ice as they taunted the Broncos post-game.

Assistant Coach Tim Kehler downplayed the antics in our post-game show but Broncos F Matt Tassone did not.

"That's not classy at all. They are obviously a good team and beat us fair and square but to do that... c'mon, it's a little over-board."

The Bladed deployed Randy McNaught, Charles Inglis and Darian Dziurzynski for the final seconds of the game. They all looked to start something but didn't find a taker. Dziurzynski went as far as to take off his gear and skate around looking for anyone who would oblige. The linesman got to him first and he was pumped a 10-minute misconduct.

The Blades have been this type of team for awhile now. For a team that struggled (by their standards) through January, maybe they were blowing off some steam?

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The Cody Eakin watch is on. He scored his 37th on the weekend and leads the league. His pursuit of 50 goals will be interesting down the stretch. By my math he's on pace for exactly 50 goals if he stays healthy for the rest of the season.

We will be watching down the stretch....

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If the Broncos make the playoffs there are still no real-answers for where they would play their so-called "home" games. With the World Women's Curling Championships moving into the i-plex for the first round playoff dates, a few options have been thrown around but there is no plan in place yet.

Some of the options include:

1) playing "home games" out of a non WHL play-off team's rink.
2) playing all seven games out of the opposition's rink
3) Moving "home" games to a WHL test market ex: Victoria/Winnipeg

Right now option two may be the front-runner but getting into the playoffs will have to be the focus first and foremost.

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WHL Governor meetings are going on in Las Vegas, NV the next couple days. Interesting to see what will come out of them. The Broncos contingent is three. Governor Ben Wiebe, Chairman of the Board Al Stewart and Head Coach / GM Mark Lamb.

We will find out what went down when the trio returns.

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