Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
It’s getting closer and closer to the start of the WHL playoffs as the Swift Current Broncos get set to face the Moose Jaw Warriors in a post-season series for the first time in 18 years. It should be a blast. There’s a lot of buzz building in our community for the playoffs and at the same time I’ve heard some concern about the health of the Broncos because of how many guys sat out last weekend. If anyone had bumps and bruises of any type last weekend there was no reason to suit up in games that meant nothing. Of course detailed info is understandably unlikely during playoffs, but in an interview today Broncos coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros indicated they are confident in having their players all back in. That would exclude Ryan Graham of course who is done for the season. That doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. We aren’t going to know for sure until the teams take the ice for the first period on Friday and we probably shouldn’t! But it sounds promising.
So far this week I’ve had a chance to chat with Viveiros, goalie Jordan Papirny and defenceman Max Lajoie ahead of the playoffs. I also chatted with Glenn Gawdin and Tyler Steenbergen about the series in a couple of previews interviews that I’ll link to.
The other piece of news today was recognition of Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi. Steenbergen made the Eastern Conference 2nd All-Star Team and was the eastern nominee for most sportsmanlike player. Heponiemi is the eastern nominee for rookie of the year. Through my Broncos coloured lenses I could see other guys there who deserved some conversation for honours too, but I’m really glad to see Tyler and Aleksi get that recognition. That was part of the chat with Coach Viveiros.
Our Golden West team here and in Moose Jaw will have more to come before the puck drops for Friday’s game 1. It should be a great series and I hope to see a lot of Broncos fans at Mosaic Place on Friday and Saturday. Ticket sales are going strong for games 3 and 4 at home as well so get on that ASAP.
It’s hard to believe that Jon Keen has now actually called more games with the Kamloops Blazers than he did with the Swift Current Broncos. Keen hit the 1000 (regular season) games mark last week. The first 499 were spent in Swift Current where from what I’m told he was known for his hard work and passion about everything to do with the Broncos. Now a veteran game caller he is one of the best in major junior. I had a chance to chat with Jon last week as he discussed his career and some memories from his time in Swfit Current.
You can click here for an article from Kamloops This Week discussing him hitting that milestone last week.
Artyom Minulin (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
Great news for the City of Swift Current this week as the Broncos will host one of the two WHL stops in the Canada/Russia series next year. What will that mean for the Broncos and who might we see on the teams? Artyom Minulin played for Russia in the series this year so given that he will be still of age next season it’s safe to assume he could be part of it. What about guys like Tyler Steenbergen or Colby Sissons for Team WHL? Either way it will be great hockey and a treat to have in our building.
I chatted with Broncos Director of Business Operations Dianne Sletten and Minulin to get their take on the game coming to Swift Current.
Tyler Steenbergen (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
Swift Current Broncos forward Tyler Steenbergen hit the 40-goal mark on Wednesday in only 53 games. A very impressive milestone for Steenbergen that has him on pace to reach 50 goals as well. No matter where he finishes he has proven to be one of the best goal scorers in the WHL and he’s only 18. I had a chance to catch up with him this afternoon ahead of a game in his hometown against Red Deer tonight.
I had floated the idea recently on twitter of digging through the archive of Swift Current Broncos alumni to check in how the active alumni are doing. That ended up being a much bigger process than I expected. I found 8 players who suited up for at least a game in the NHL so far this season, 12 in the AHL and 30 in Europe. In total from what I could find there are 55 former Broncos active in the professional ranks, 15 in Canadian University and 87 in total. I didn’t track senior hockey because it’s too difficult to get accurate rosters or stats from that. If you spot any mistakes or players I’ve missed on the page please let me know by comment or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
At the same time I also updated the prospects page. Again that page is always in flux because of players getting added to or subtracted from Swift Current’s list. There may be some changes on that list that aren’t reflected in this list as well. Either way it’s a chance to track how some of the future Broncos stars are developing.
Interview with F Brandon Arnold before Wednesday’s game:
Brandan Arnold made his return to the Swift Current Broncos this week after putting up 12 points in 6 games for Nipawin of the SJHL. I caught up with him before Wednesday’s game against Edmonton. Watch Swift Current Online later for a story on that as well. I thought Arnold brought a lot of good energy for the Broncos against Edmonton. I’m sure he can keep building on that as the team heads towards playoffs.
Lane Pederson (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
It’s been a long stretch between games for the Swift Current Broncos as they take this week off to get back on track. The Broncos hadn’t had any long stretches of poor play this season, but recently their defensive game has struggled and they’ve only managed two wins in their last seven games. Perhaps this break came at a good time to address that. Here’s my chat with Lane Pederson on this week off leading up to tomorrow’s game against Prince Albert…
Interview with Lane Pederson:
Meanwhile, Broncos fans got a taste of their future yesterday as 2016 first round bantam draft pick Logan Barlage had a hat trick and an assist in a Prince Albert Mintos win over the Swift Current Home Hardware Legionnaries last night. The two teams play again this afternoon in Midget AAA action at the Credit Union iPlex. The Legionnaries also feature a couple of quality Broncos prospects including one of the top scorers in the league in Ethan Regnier. It’s worth checking out.
The Broncos are finally back in action tomorrow afternoon at 4pm against Prince Albert.