Revisiting the 2018 Trades

Giorgio Estephan (Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com)

The 2018 WHL Championship didn’t come cheap.

In one form or another, the Swift Current Broncos dealt seven years of 1st round bantam draft picks (Dom Schmiemann, Riley Stotts, Logan Barlage, Joel Sexsmith, and picks in 2018/2019/2020) in the process of securing the roster that took home the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

I had a Broncos fan and friend of mine ask me the other day if we could take a look back at the results of those trades. How well did the other teams make out? How many of those assets are still working their way around the WHL?

I meant for this to be a post on my Facebook and quickly realized it would be too long. I guess that means opening up the blog one more time!

Manny Viveiros threw all his chips in the middle in 2018. We all know that those trades were both key to the WHL championship the Broncos won and a big factor in the struggles that have come in the following seasons. Where you stand on those results and whether it was “worth it” will likely differ from person to person.

So here are the trades starting in the fall of 2017 that built the 2018 WHL Championship roster.

1) September 10, 2017 Kootenay trades Max Patterson to Swift Current for G Bailey Brkin and 5th Rnd ’18 Cond.

Patterson scored a very memorable goal in Game 7 of the first round series against Regina. Swift then flipped Patterson to Everett the next season for a 2020 4th round pick and Dawson Springer. Springer played only 2 WHL games including a memorable goal in Prince Albert. He’s now ripping up senior hockey for Rocanville with 10 goals in 4 games this season. The 4th round pick got sent right back to Everett for Carter Halamandaris who played 16 games with the Broncos in the bubble and had 2 assists. He is now playing Junior B in Manitoba. I’m not sure what happened. It appears his MJHL rights are owned by Virden.

Brkin struggled with Kootenay, but he went on to have a season and a half of top flight performance with Spokane as an 18 and 19-year-old. In his overage season Brkin spent some time with Moose Jaw before heading to the OHL on waivers to play for the Greyhounds. It’s hard to say he would have had much trade value to the Broncos as he only fetched Kootenay an 8th round pick and his other two moves came on waivers.

As for the conditional 5th rounder, Swift Current’s 5th round pick in 2018 ended up with Portland somehow. They picked Jonah Bevington who is currently playing for them and has 4 assists in 22 WHL games.

2) September 20, 2017 Saskatoon sent  Logan Flodell to Swift Current for their 5th Rnd. ’19 and 2nd Rnd. ’20

The Broncos ran with Flodell as their starter until the trade deadline. They then flipped him to Lethbridge in the deal that got them Stuart Skinner.

The 2nd round pick was flipped by Saskatoon to Portland in the Ryan Hughes deal. Portland used it to select Jayden Perron. He has 21 points in 23 games for the Chicago Steel this season in the USHL and has committed to play in the NCAA. That hasn’t stopped Portland from winning a player over before. We’ll see what happens.

The Blades used that 5th round pick in 2019 to select D Ben Saunderson who has a point in 13 games for them this season as a promising 17-year-old rookie.

3) November 25, 2017 Calgary sent Matteo Gennaro, Beck Malenstyn and 5th Rnd. ’18 to Swift Current for Conner Chaulk, Riley Stotts, Dominic Schmiemann, Josh Prokop, Ethan Hein, and a 2nd Rnd. ‘18

Here is the first blockbuster. Gennaro and Malenstyn both finished their WHL careers with the Broncos in 2018 and were big parts of the championship. The 5th I believe ended up with Kootenay and was traded to Seattle. The Thunderbirds picked Sam Popwich and he has 6 points in 42 games.

Chaulk finished his WHL career with Calgary that season scoring 20 points in his remaining 35 games before moving on to the University of Regina. Stotts was on fire the rest of that season with 41 points in his final 47 games. Stotts and Schmiemann were both former 1st round picks of the Broncos. Stotts then had seasons of 57, 68, and 14 points (in 21 games) with Calgary before graduating to the University of Calgary. He likely would have had strong trade value as an 18 or 19-year-old.

Schmiemann had a solid season with Calgary putting up 11 points in 47 games and going -4. He then got traded to Tri-City for 4th and 5th round picks. As an overage he went to Brandon for 5th and 6th round picks. Josh Prokop was playing Junior A hockey and was not going to join the Broncos until they moved him to Calgary where he had a chance to play with his brother Luke. He had 88 points in 143 games and graduated with the Hitmen without being traded.

Hein never played in the WHL. He is playing in the SIJHL at the moment. The 2nd round pick was Zachary Funk who has 15 points in 21 games this season for the Hitmen as an 18-year-old. The full impact of his career is to be determined.

4) January 7, 2018 Swift Current traded Joel Sexsmith to Vancouver for a 1st Rnd. ‘19


Sexsmith has 14 points in 82 WHL games and is currently on the Red Deer roster. He has only played 4 games this season. Vancouver ended up trading him with a 3rd round pick to the Rebels for Brendan Budy and a 7th round pick. Budy is playing in the NCAA.

The Broncos used that pick to help make-up for trading away their own 1st round pick in 2019. Unfortunately for them, Vancouver had a great season and ended up with the second last pick of the round. Swift Current selected Tyson Jugnauth and he has thus far chosen to play Junior A for West Kelowna and committed to the NCAA. Jugnauth at 17 is also the 4th leading scorer in the BCHL among defencemen. It would be huge if they could ever get him to change his mind or trade him to a team that could.

5) January 7, 2018 Prince George traded Josh Anderson to Swift Current for a 1st Rnd. ’18 and 1st Rnd. ’19


Anderson played a very important role in Swift Current’s championship run as a stay-at-home defenceman and physical presence. Unfortunately for the Broncos he, like Malenstyn, didn’t return to the WHL for his overage season. That meant the Broncos were unable to recoup any of the assets they spent on him.

The Cougars picked goaltender Tyler Brennan with the 21st pick of the 2018 1st round. Brennan has played 33 WHL games with a 3.20 goals against average and 0.901 save percentage. He and Taylor Gauthier and splitting starts this season.

Prince George flipped the 2019 pick to Winnipeg for another pick in the same round they used on Keaton Dowhaniuk and a 2020 3rd round pick they used on Zackary Shantz. Both guys have signed and played with the Cougars. Winnipeg used the old Broncos pick, which was 2nd overall, to draft Conor Geekie.  He is one of the best young players in the WHL and has 54 points in 56 games for the Ice so far.

6) January 9, 2018 Lethbridge sent Stuart Skinner, Giorgio Estephan, and Tanner Nagel to Swift Current for Logan Flodell, Logan Barlage, Owen Blocker, Matthew Stanley a 1st Rnd. ’20, 3rd Rnd. ’20, and 2nd Rnd. ’21 Cond.

Here is the other big one. The Connor Bedard trade.

Skinner was unbelievable in the playoffs and was at least 1B to Glenn Gawdin’s playoff MVP. He turned pro at 20 and never came back for the Broncos to recoup any assets. Estephan scored some huge goals on the way to the championship victory and graduated with Swift Current. Nagel was a nice depth piece on the championship roster and finished his career with the Broncos as their captain in 2018-19.

Blocker and Stanley both ended up back in Swift Current the next season. Stanley off waivers and Blocker for an 8th round draft pick in 2019. They were both solid depth pieces for the Hurricanes in a run to the conference final in 2018. Flodell took over as the starter for Lethbridge and was a huge part of their playoff success and eventual battle with Swift Current in the third round. He graduated with Lethbridge.

Barlage, another former 1st round pick of the Swift Current’s, is currently in his overage season with the Hurricanes. He has 150 points in 249 WHL games. Only 38 of those games and 7 of those points came as a member of the Broncos. He has 13 points in 21 games this season and could potentially be on the trade market for a Lethbridge team that has already dealt one of their top veteran players.

The 2020 1st round pick went to Regina in a trade the next season as the Hurricanes were looking to contend. In an absolute nightmare for Broncos fans, their most hated rivals then won the draft lottery and selected a generational talent in Connor Bedard with that pick. Bedard became the first WHL player to ever receive exceptional player status and is the favourite to get picked 1st overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. That one was a hard pill to swallow.

Lethbridge used the 2020 3rd round pick to select Logan Wormold with the first pick in that round. He has been a very impressive rookie this season with 10 points in 13 games. It looks like the Hurricanes got a good one there. I don’t know about the conditions of the 2021 pick. If it does go to Lethbridge they will be using it with the third pick of the second round in this December’s draft.

So ultimately upgrading from Flodell to Skinner, from Barlage to Estephan, and from Blocker to Nagel cost the Broncos four additional seasons of Barlage, Connor Bedard, and Logan Wormold. It was a big price to pay, but it did pay off. It’s hard to imagine winning that championship without Skinner and Estephan.

7) January 9, 2018 Calgary traded Andrew Fyten to Swift Current for Ethan Martini and a 3rd Rnd. ’20 Cond.


Fyten was a nice depth piece on the championship run in Swift Current. He played some big minutes including PK time. He then led the Broncos in scoring for the first half of the 2018-19 season before they sent him to Edmonton for a 2020 5th round conditional draft pick that turned into a 4th round pick which they sent back to the Oil Kings for Raphael Pelletier. That turned out to be a good move for the Broncos as Pelletier is tied for second in team scoring with 17 points in 24 games this season. He is also likely to return as an overage player in 2022-23.

The 2020 3rd round pick appears to be a big of a mystery as the Broncos had already dealt their own 2020 3rd round pick to Lethbridge earlier that day. Swift Current traded for two other 2020 3rd round picks in future deals. They added one from Everett in the Sahvan Khaira deal and another from Red Deer in the Ben King deal. However, they only picked once in the 2020 third round when they nabbed Liam Saxberg. That pick was originally owned by Lethbridge and they had traded it to Red Deer in the Lane Zablocki deal. That tells me the pick the Broncos got for Khaira went to Calgary. They used it on Carter Yakemchuk. He’s a 16-year-old defenceman who has 3 points in 16 games with the Hitmen as a rookie. Both third round picks the Broncos traded away that January 9th ended up becoming WHL players four years later for division rivals.

Ethan Martini never played in the WHL. He bounced around Junior A and ended up at Long Island University in the NCAA.

The Remains

So who is left? Of the picks and players the Broncos dealt away on the road to their 2018 championship there are quite a few still making an impact on WHL rosters.

-Jonah Bevington in Portland
-Ben Saunderson in Saskatoon
-Zachary Funk in Calgary
-Joel Sexsmith in Red Deer
-Tyler Brennan in Prince George
-Conor Geekie in Winnipeg
-Logan Barlage in Lethbridge
-Logan Wormold in Lethbridge
-Connor Bedard in Regina
-Carter Yakemchuk in Calgary

There are a couple other players out there who have chosen to play NCAA and could still revert back to the WHL before their eligibility is over. It is also worth noting that the reason some of those draft picks turned out so well is that the Broncos finished at the bottom of the league standings in the following seasons. If they hadn’t gone all-in for the 2018 championship they likely wouldn’t have been quite so bad in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Either way it’s hard to not ask yourself if there ever would have been a way to make the Prince George or Lethbridge deals without giving up their own picks in both. Geekie or Bedard would sure look good in Broncos colours right now.

It’s also worth noting that Swift Current was able to replace some of those lost picks. They never could have replaced the position those picks came in the draft, but they did add a 2019 1st round pick from Portland they used on Mathew Ward and a 2020 1st round pick from Everett which resulted in Brady Birnie. They’ve also got another extra 1st rounder from Portland they will pair with their own pick in the upcoming 2021 draft when they select 6th and 7th in the opening round.

They suffered from some incredible bad luck in the 2018-19 season. Of the eleven19-year-olds that were eligible to return to the WHL at 20, only six of them came back. The other five all turned pro (Steenbergen, Malenstyn, Anderson, Skinner, and Sissons) and they lost an 18 turning 19 Aleksi Heponiemi to European pro hockey. If even a couple of those guys had come back the Broncos would have been able recoup a lot more of what they traded away in 2018. I’m sure they were counting on a little luck that way when they made those moves.

It is easy to play the “what might have been” game. Obviously in hindsight all fans wish the Broncos had been able to win the championship while paying a lesser price. Manny Viveiros would likely tell you he couldn’t have made those deals without paying what he did.

The nagging “what if” will likely always be the Anderson trade. Could they have at least found a way to convince Prince George to take the Vancouver 2019 pick instead of the Swift Current pick? The other often discussed move was Moose Jaw adding Brandon Schuldhaus and a 4th from Red Deer for a couple 2nd round picks and Colin Paradis. Could the Broncos have made a move like that instead and used their 2018 1st rounder to complete the Lethbridge deal without touching the 19 or 20 picks? Would Schuldhaus have been able to come close enough to what Anderson brought Swift Current to still secure a championship? It is also worth noting the Broncos didn’t even have their 2019 or 2020 2nd round picks to trade anyway. We can play this game all day in hindsight. Even one slight change could have spoiled a run that was a fierce battle the whole way.

I’d suggest if the Broncos had simply stood pat they would have lost in the early rounds of those playoffs against either a stacked Regina club or the loaded Moose Jaw Warriors. Swift Current also likely would have been a relatively mediocre team in the next two seasons anyway. Most of their best veteran talent graduated after 2018. Keeping Schmiemann, Barlage and Stotts would not have been enough to carry them that far beyond where they ended up.

If it was a choice between either going after it or playing conservative I still think it was the right move. If they had gone in half way and not made their 2019 or 2020 picks available, I’m not sure we would have a banner hanging in the iPlex right now. What do you think?

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Re-Live 2018: Broncos Win Ed Chynoweth Cup

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No description necessary (Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com)

The Swift Current Broncos are 2018 Ed Chynoweth Cup Champions.

Swift Current is Saskatchewan’s first Western Hockey League Champion since 1993 when the Broncos also took the league title.

“These kids how committed they were… they were all in,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “There was times things didn’t go well for us, but they were determined and never got done. I’m really proud of that group. I’m so happy for these guys.”

Stuart Skinner made 31 saves for his sixth shutout of the playoffs as the Broncos beat Everett 3-0 to secure the 4-2 series win over the Silvertips.

CLICK HERE FOR MY FULL RECAP OF GAME 6 ON SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

CLICK HERE FOR OUR STORY ON THE COMMUNITY REACTION

CLICK HERE FOR A 2018 PLAYOFF VIDEO MONTAGE FROM THE BRONCOS WEBSITE

With that I will wrap up my look back at 2018 and for now at least this blog. Despite going stagnant in recent years, I hope you enjoyed the site. Thanks of everyone who ever visited and commented. It’s been a fun ride!

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 4: Games 3 to 5

Gawdin

Glenn Gawdin (photo by Robert Murray/WHL)

It was quite a journey to Everett for the Swift Current Broncos last season. The team, staff, media and a surprising number of fans made the trip about as far away from Swift Current as it could get for the WHL team. Swift Current knew they’d have to win at least once to bring the series back home. They did one better than that and in dramatic fashion too!

Round 3 – Game 3: Broncos 3 Silvertips 2 (OT)

One player scoring an overtime winner to complete a hat trick would be notable enough.

How about three?

For the third time in this playoff run the Swift Current Broncos got an overtime winner from a player finishing off their hat trick and this time it was on the biggest stage.

Glenn Gawdin scored his third of the night just 2:40 into overtime as the Broncos erased a 2-1 deficit to beat Everett 3-2 and take a 2-1 lead in the WHL Championship Series.

“It feels good,” Gawdin said. “I’m happy we got the win, but we need two more.”

Gawdin’s feat comes on the heels of similar achievements by Matteo Gennaro against Moose Jaw and Giorgio Estephan in the Lethbridge series.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 3 RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 4 – Game 4: Broncos 1 Silvertips 0

Stuart Skinner has been concentrating on having fun on his third WHL playoff run and what could be more fun than hoisting the Ed Chynoweth Cup?

Skinner delivered another superstar performance with 32 saves for his fifth shutout of the playoffs as the Swift Current Broncos beat Everett 1-0 and took a 3-1 lead in the WHL Championship Series.

“I’m really happy with how my team played in front of me,” Skinner said. “I thought our PK was really strong tonight especially in the second period when they got a couple good opportunities. We were able to stay strong… the whole time I’ve just been having fun and doing my best.”

Colby Sissons scored the lone goal of the game late in the second period on a Swift Current power play. Just as the Broncos went to the man advantage he entered the zone and wired his fifth of the playoffs top shelf on Carter Hart.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECAP OF GAME 4 FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 4 – Game 5: Silvertips 6 Broncos 3

Connor Dewar scored twice into an empty-net as the Everett Silvertips survived their final home game of the season to force Game 6 in the WHL Championship Series.

Riley Sutter had a goal and two assists in the win for Everett.

The Silvertips came out strong with an aggressive forecheck and desperation in securing a 6-3 win over Swift Current and keeping the series going. The Broncos now lead 3-2 with Game 6 set for Sunday at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 5 RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE</a

 

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 4 Game 2: Broncos 4 Silvertips 3 (OT)

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Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com

“This group really does believe.”

That’s how Swift Current Broncos Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros summed up a remarkable comeback in Game 2 of the WHL Championship Series.

Down 3-0 after the first period against a stingy Everett Silvertips club, the Broncos battled back to win the game and tie the series.

“That’s the most important thing is you’ve got to be able to believe,” Viveiros said. “Very proud of the kids.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECAP OF GAME 2 FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

What a great night it was. Without question my favourite game in twelve years calling hockey games. An awesome memory.

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 4 Game 1: Silvertips 2 Broncos 1

game1

Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com

The Everett Silvertips lived up to their billing in Game 1 of the WHL Championship Series.

A team known for being able to smother their opponent’s scoring ability did just that on the way to a 2-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I thought both teams played really well tonight,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “I thought the goaltenders were very, very good. (The Silvertips) come as advertised. A team that battles really hard for loose pucks especially in their zone on the wall and in front of the net. We have to do a better job tomorrow as far as getting to the net area a lot more.”

It was a hard fought battle and could have gone either way until the Silvertips took an early third period lead and locked the game down the rest of the way.

“What I was really proud of was the response in the third,” said Silvertips Head Coach Doug Williams. “We started playing the way we can play. We played a 200 hundred foot game and we backed up every shift with a positive. From there we know it’s a short mindset towards a new game and a new day. We enjoy tonight, learn from it and lets get better tomorrow.”

CLICK HERE FOR MY FULL RECAP OF GAME 1 FOR SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 3: Games 3 to 6

Broncos

Photo from scbroncos.com

Apologies again! Life gets in the way sometimes. It has been like two weeks since my last update. The 2019 WHL Final is underway now and I certainly wish both Prince Albert and Vancouver well in that. It can be such a fun time for any junior hockey community.

I will try again now to get back on track in our look back to last year. No promises obviously! When we left our story the Broncos took a 2-0 lead on Lethbridge in two very hotly contested games in Swift Current. The games in Lethbridge told a decidedly different story…

Round 3 – Game 3: Hurricanes 5 Broncos 1

Any thoughts of an Eastern Conference Final sweep blew away with the wind in Lethbridge tonight.

Brad Morrison scored a hat-trick leading the Hurricanes to a 5-1 win over Swift Current and cut the Broncos’ series lead to 2-1.

“I thought in the second period we took a couple of very undisciplined penalties that put us in trouble and they capitalized on it,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “We thought we played a decent first period. Second period we’re right there and 2-1 going into the third period we’re fine, we’re in a good spot… and then we just got undisciplined and they took it to us.”

Morrison scored three and had an assist to extend his league leading playoff point total to 34. The Broncos had contained him fairly well in Swift Current and were not able to repeat that on the road.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECAP OF GAME 3 FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 3 – Game 4: Hurricanes 5 Broncos 1

The Swift Current Broncos have not been themselves so far in the WHL Eastern Conference Final.

That much was evident after back-to-back 5-1 losses in Lethbridge for Game 3 and 4 as the Hurricanes tied the series.

“To be honest I think we should be going home right now,” said Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner. “I think Lethbridge should have swept us. The two last two games we got at home I think we got lucky… I just thank God we got those two games at home, otherwise we’d be going home right now. They deserved to win these two games… it’s our job to figure it out or we’re going to go home.”

The Broncos started taking penalties early and never managed to stay out of the box as Lethbridge went 4 for 10 on the man advantage. After saying confidently that they’d be better in Game 4, the Broncos were left looking for answers.

“We very uncharacteristically melted down tonight. I don’t have an answer for that right now. We’ll analyze it and talk about it later,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 4 RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 3 – Game 5: Broncos 4 Hurricanes 3

A couple of Swift Current Broncos veterans showed true leadership tonight.

Glenn Gawdin and Artyom Minulin may not have scored the winning goal or been named first star, but two of Swift Current’s most important veteran players gave their team an emotional and physical lift by returning from undisclosed ailments in a crucial Game 5 victory.

Gawdin and MInulin have missed the majority of the series and each had an assist while eating up very significant minutes in their return helping the Broncos to a 3-2 lead in the WHL Eastern Conference Final.

“You’ve got an elite puck moving defenceman that gets us out of trouble with good first passes,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “And Glenn Gawdin I thought he was the MVP (of the season) he’s everything for our hockey club. He’s our captain for many reasons.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECAP OF GAME 5 ON SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 3 – Game 6: Broncos 5 Hurricanes 1

The loudest building in the Western Hockey League will be rocking on Friday night as the Swift Current Broncos host Game 1 of the WHL Final.

Swift Current scored three goals in 1:36 of the second period as the Broncos overcame a sluggish start to beat Lethbridge 5-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to win the series 4-2.

They will now battle the Everett Silvertips for the Ed Chynoweth Cup starting Friday at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex.

It’s Swift Current’s first trip to the WHL Final since winning the league championship in 1993.

“You could almost hear our own city (from Lethhbridge) and how excited they are and how great they’ve been,” said Broncos Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros with a big smile on his face. “They’ve been I think a factor for us. Especially playing at home how positive and how loud they are. I can just imagine in Swift Current how excited everybody is.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 6 RECAP ON SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 3: Games 1 & 2

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Giorgio Estephan’s Game 2 OT Winner (photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com)

The emotion was always high in the 2018 playoffs for the Swift Current Broncos. From a first round series against a Regina team that knocked 17 of their players out of the playoffs the year before, to a second round series against their rivals from Moose Jaw in a battle of the league’s top two teams, on to an Eastern Conference final against a Lethbridge club with whom they’d made a massive trade at the deadline.

Lethbridge was a  younger team with less depth that wasn’t supposed to be the same level of challenge that Regina and Moose Jaw had offered. People must have neglected to tell the Hurricanes because they gave the Broncos everything they could take and more in a terrific series. It started with two very close Swift Current wins on home ice as they took their first two-game series lead in the playoffs.

Round 3 – Game 1: Broncos 3 Hurricanes 2

The Swift Current Broncos may have come out on the winning end in Game 1 of the WHL Eastern Conference Final, but they sure know they’re in for a tough series.

Stuart Skinner made 39 saves, while Aleksi Heponiemi’s first of the playoffs served as the winner in a tight 3-2 victory over Lethbridge.

“I thought Lethbridge was really good tonight,” said Broncos Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “They put us on our heels (and) made us make mistakes. We were fortunate. Stuart Skinner played very well for us. A little bit of puck luck for Lethbridge they could have easily won the game tonight.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 1 RECAP

Round 3 – Game 2: Broncos 4 Hurricanes 3 (OT)

To many fans in central Alberta Giorgio Estephan will always be a Lethbridge Hurricane.

After tonight he will also be remembered as a Swift Current Broncos playoff hero.

The former Lethbridge captain delivered his signature Broncos performance against his old team with an overtime winning hat-trick goal lifting Swift Current to a 2-0 lead in the WHL Eastern Conference Final.

“It was a hard fought game,” Estephan said. “There was a couple of times throughout the game where everyone was frustrated. We stuck with the game plan and we stuck with everything that were making us good… that one felt pretty good at the end for sure… we were just trying to get a lot of pressure and a lot of shots on net especially in overtime… I kind of got off my guy a little bit… and it was a perfect pass by (Sahvan Khaira) right on my tape. All I had to do was tap it in.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 2 RECAP

 

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 2: Games 3 to 7

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Matteo Gennaro’s overtime winner (photo by David Zammit)

Apologies to those of you following my look back to 2018 series. The events associated with the radio station officially losing the broadcast rights to the Broncos and as a result me losing my role as broadcaster with the team kind of threw this for a bit of a loop. I decided I didn’t want to complete abandon the series even though I got five games behind. That means I have to find a way to deal with the Moose Jaw series. We were through Game 2 so I’m just going to do a quick recap with links for the last five games of the series. That should get us back on track.

Looking back at the series boy was it memorable. Eight overtime periods. Seven games. Three straight shutouts by Skinner on the road. The top two teams in the league and emotional rivals battled in perhaps the beset series of the playoffs in 2018 with the Humboldt tragedy hanging over everything. That is a ten-day period none of us will ever forget.

Round 2 – Game 3: Warriors 4 Broncos 3 (3OT)

Brett Howden limped the the dressing room after a late second period collision with questions about his status for the rest of the game.

The Moose Jaw captain had a much different expression heading back down the tunnel later in the night after scoring the overtime winner in the Warriors’ Game 3 victory over Swift Current.

Less than three minutes into extra time he was going to the net as the puck came bouncing off of Tanner Jeannot’s stick and right to Howden for a quick ending to OT.

It was the New York Ranger prospect’s second of the game as Moose Jaw regained home ice advantage in a hard fought game.

“Effort was there,” said Broncos Associate Coach Ryan Smith “Execution and details were a little off tonight. Credit to Moose Jaw. They needed to get one back and they did it. I thought our game was just a little off tonight. Just some mistakes and some reads and that ends up costing you opportunities and goals.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 3 RECAP

Round 2 – Game 4: Broncos 3 Warriors 2 (2OT)

“I just know I had an angel watching over me tonight.”

With a heavy heart Matteo Gennaro played the game of his life lifting the Swift Current Broncos to a 3-2 double overtime win over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 4 tonight.

Gennaro lost close friend Stephen Wack in the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash last week and saluted him with a point to the sky when called out as the first star at the end of the thrilling contest.

“I don’t really have any words,” Gennaro said. “It was pretty special to be a part of… we went through some extreme adversity today. We don’t really feel like the calls were going our way and we had countless opportunities in OT. I’m just proud of the group. We weren’t going to be denied tonight. That was a huge game and we needed that for sure.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 4 RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Round 2 – Game 5: Broncos 2 Warriors 0

Stuart Skinner made 36 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 2-0 in Game 5.

Swift Current’s netminder made some huge saves early and played a poised game the whole was as his team delivered a determined two-way effort in front of him.

“I feel pretty good right now,” Skinner said. “I think all the momentum is building up. It’s not just me out there. Guys are blocking shots for me and guys are putting the puck in the net on the other side. A big team effort for the win tonight and a character win.”

Kaden Elder and Giorgio Estephan had the goals for Swift Current as the Broncos played a strong road game and took a 3-2 series lead.

“Our goalie kept us in the game,” Elder said. “He made some huge saves… we got desperate and we blocked shots, played the right way in the d-zone and that led to our offence.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 5 RECAP

Round 2 – Game 6: Warriors 3 Broncos 2 (3OT)

Everything was going right for the Swift Current Broncos.

The home team was in total control of Game 6 against Moose Jaw and up 2-0 with 14 minutes to go before earning a trip to the WHL Eastern Conference Final.

But the Moose Jaw Warriors weren’t done.

The Warriors erased the deficit and eventually won a triple overtime marathon on a Jayden Halbgewachs power play goal.

“It feels unreal I mean our season is over if that goal doesn’t happen,” Halbgewachs told discovermoosejaw.com. “It’s pretty indescribable. It feels awesome…we’ve got a special team this year and to have our season done already is not what we want and doesn’t feel right… it’s obviously the biggest goal of my career.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 6 RECAP

Round 2 – Game 7:

Stuart Skinner accomplished something almost unthinkable this series.

The 19-year-old shut out the WHL’s leading scoring team three straight times in their own building on the way to a seven game series victory for the Swift Current Broncos.

With shutout victories in Games 2, 5 and 7, Skinner proved his place as one of the clutch playoff goaltenders in the league and helped his team advance to an Eastern Conference final against his old club from Lethbridge.

“It feels amazing,” Skinner said. “I’m actually pretty tired so I’m excited to get a couple days off and rest up for round three. Three wins playing away is huge. That’s the reason we won this series. I’m so thankful to have this group of guys. We’re a family here. I love it.”

Swift Current saved their best game of the series for the last one as they dominated the league’s top team from almost start to finish on the way to a 6-0 victory.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME 7 RECAP

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 2 Game 2: Broncos 4 Warriors 0

Photo by Marc Smith

Hockey was secondary tonight as the Swift Current Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors took the ice.

The teams gathered together around the face-off circle to pay tribute in a moment of silence for the victims of yesterday’s Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

It was a touching display of unity from two fierce rivals.

“It was heart-wrenching,” said Broncos forward Andrew Fyten. “You could hear a needle drop in the rink when all of us were going around. It just shows how big the hockey community is. I think everyone has been touched by it in some way. We had a couple guys in our room that lost really close buddies. For them to come out tonight and battle with us that was a really special thing. It really shows how much of a brotherhood we are inside our room.”

The game was certainly secondary to the teams standing together and paying tribute. “Everybody is still in shock,” said Broncos Coach/Director of Player Personnel Manny Viveiros. “It’s been a real difficult 24 hours for our kids. Our kids lost some really close friends on that hockey team and we had no idea the magnitude until after the game last night just how many kids our kids knew on that team that were close friends. I thought Moose Jaw did an outstanding job of paying tribute to those young kids that lost their lives and the kids that are battling for their lives. We’re numb. Our kids are still grieving. It’s going to take some time here and we’re going to get them the support they need… and we’re going to be there to help them out as much as possible.” CLICK HERE FOR MY FULL RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

Here is a transcript of my intro for our broadcast of Game 2:

“Good evening hockey fans in southwest Saskatchewan and across the hockey world… fans are filing in to Mosaic Place ready for our usual Saturday night ritual. But it’s there’s a dark cloud hovering over the proceedings. For every fan that came tonight ready to cheer on their favourite team and support their favourite players at that special time of year where the games take on new meaning… there’s that raw gnawing feeling in the pit of our stomachs reminding us all of something we lost. Something much more important than the puck they’ll drop tonight.

Last night as they’ve done hundreds of times before and thousands of players, coaches, staff and media have done thousands of times in similar towns and cities across our country… the Humboldt Broncos filed onto their bus to take the next step in their hockey dream and chase championship glory on the road to Nipawin. They sat beside their friends in their usual spots… some staring out the window imagining that night’s game. Some joking and pranking. Some listening to music or dozing off. And suddenly in one horrible moment their lives were either taken or irreparably changed.

A collision last night caused the tragic loss now of 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos family. Of the hockey family. And today there isn’t a heart or mind in the game that isn’t with those families. Today the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos will come together to pray and play for their friends and comrades. They’ll do it with a heavy heart, but they won’t forget. We won’t forget. In Swift Current we sadly know this kind of tragedy all too well. None of us will ever forget, but we will do our best to help them heal.

Tonight we will bring you the broadcast of a hockey game, but we too are thinking about the family and friends of everyone in Humboldt including wonderful colleagues of ours. And our hearts are with you.”

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Re-Live 2018: Humboldt Broncos Tragedy

Any of us who have spent a significant amount of time on a hockey bus could picture it. Where everyone was sitting. Coaches cutting video clips, players napping on the floor, showing each other a funny text they got, watching a movie on their iPad… and you know there’s a card game going in the back.

One year ago today there was a horrific buzz at Mosaic Place just before we went on the air for Game 1 between the Swift Current Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors. Something awful had happened with the Humboldt Broncos on the road to their playoff game in Nipawin.

Nobody really knew how serious it was and the information was only really starting to filter in as the players got ready for puck drop. Coaches found out and would let their teams know at the conclusion of the game.

I honestly don’t remember anything about Game 1 outside of this horrible feeling in the pit that this didn’t matter right now and how on earth can you focus on the excitement of a game while the hockey world is dealing with this kind of loss?

On that note today I don’t think there is any sense giving much thought to the game itself.

If you’d like to take a look back you can click here for the link to our recap from Swift Current Online. It also includes video of Swift Current’s goals that night.

Otherwise all thoughts today will be with the family and friends of those hurt or lost in that awful crash last year. The connections to Swift Current run deep from the shared heartbreak of two communities experiencing the heartbreak of a hockey team touched by a deadly crash to all the personal links. The name Broncos will always be bonded in shared grief.

We know Ryan Gobeil of the Broncos front office has gone on to hold two massive fundraisers for STARS Ambulance after all his brother Morgan went through. We know Matteo Gennaro of the Broncos spoke at the funeral for his best friend Stephen Wack a day after winning Game 7 against Moose Jaw. We know now Swift Current coach Dean Brockman returned quickly to Humboldt to help with the aftermath in the community where he had coached for 17 years. We know former Broncos from 1986 also found their way to the community to offer their support.

Just on our broadcast team intermission analyst Joell Haugan was cousins with Humboldt’s coach Darcy Haugan and shared so much with us about the great man he was.

I thought back to interviewing Adam Herold for a podcast I did ahead of his selection in the bantam draft. What an impressive and mature young man he was.

I could go on and one listing those connections.

We remember all the vigils across Canada and packing into the iPlex sharing our grief.

At Golden West we remember our colleagues Tyler Bieber and Brody Hinz. I have learned a lot about Tyler from people who were great friends of his and wish I knew him the way they did. He left a tremendous legacy with his passion for local sports and volunteerism in his community. As a fellow broadcaster you feel like attaching yourself to Tyler, but he wasn’t like many of us in our intense pursuit of and focus on calling hockey games. His community work in sports was his biggest passion from what I understand. That’s the legacy he leaves. A true on air talent and from what I’ve learned an even better friend.

It was a weird feeling being able to feel a connection with those who were lost without really having anyone specific to grieve. I think all our hearts were heavy with grief for those families and friends even if we didn’t have to live with that same kind of awful loss ourselves.

Better writers than me with a better grasp of how to take that day will write much more impactful things today. I just don’t think I can spend the time to really dig into that game because it just doesn’t matter. Not right now.

What I think I’ll remember most about the broadcast is sitting in the media room with Kelly Remple asking him how on earth do I call this game tonight? How can you be excited about a goal while there are families on pins and needles waiting to hear about their children? It was the most surreal and heart wrenching night.

But the other thing I’ll always remember is how the hockey community, the country and really people around the world came together to support those families.

Sometimes in tragedy we learn about the worst in people. Sometimes we see their best. I’m glad we saw the best in a lot of people out of this horrible loss.

Now one year later all I can think is that I hope those who continue to grieve today are closer to some level of peace. They are in all our thoughts.

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