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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Re-Live 2018 – Round 1 Game 7: Broncos 3 Pats 2

Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com

The monkey is officially off Swift Current’s back.

Stuart Skinner made 36 saves as the Swift Current Broncos played terrific defensive hockey down the stretch to beat Regina 3-2 and eliminate the Pats after a first-round series that went the distance.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Broncos Captain Glenn Gawdin. “Just how everything ended last year playing these guys for us it was redemption. Not just our team, but the guys who played for Calgary and Lethbridge that got beat out by these guys.”

There are 11 players left from last season’s Broncos team that Regina eliminated in the second round, three players on the Broncos now from a Calgary club that Regina beat in the first round last year and three more from a Lethbridge squad that lost to the Pats in back-to-back seasons.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

 

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Re-Live 2018: Game 7 Anticipation

Photo by David Zammit for scbroncos.com

At the beginning of the Regina/Swift Current series no one would have been surprised by a Game 7. They probably would not have expected a series of lopsided games. Would we ever see a classic game in this third playoff series between these two rivals in the last four seasons?

In Swift Current nerves were running high. Regina fans knew that no matter what happens in Game 7 they will see hockey again when hosting the Memorial Cup. For the Broncos a loss in Game 7 would be perhaps the biggest on-ice disappointment in franchise history. Of course we knew how evenly matched the two teams were, but to make the kinds of moves they made at the deadline and lose to the Pats again!? That would have been the toughest of tough pills to swallow for Swift Current fans.

The other big question going into the deciding game was who would be healthy among the players who have battled injury in the series.

Game 7. April 2nd, 2018. I can almost feel the tension again. Our review in 24 hours.

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 1 Game 6: Pats 7 Broncos 2 (Series tied 3-3)

Photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats were so closely matched it almost seemed destined for a Game 7.

This just wasn’t the way anyone would have expected to get there.

A series full of lopsided games with no momentum for either team continued in that direction as Regina beat Swift Current 7-2 in Game 6 tonight.

That results comes off a 5-2 Swift Current win in Game 5, a 6-3 Regina win in Game 4 and a 4-1 Broncos win in Game 3. For two closely matched teams they haven’t really created closely contested games.

“I wish I knew the answer to that,” said Broncos Captain Glenn Gawdin. “This series the way it’s been going it’s a trend for both teams. Not really surprised how it’s going that it’s coming down to one game. For us our mentality is we have to win that… it’s playoffs anything can happen.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

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Re-Live 2018 – Round 1 Game 5: Broncos 5 Pats 2

Photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com

One of the most explosive goal scorers in the Canadian Hockey League delivered big in the clutch again.

Tyler Steenbergen scored a hat-trick leading the Swift Current Broncos to a 5-2 win over Regina in Game 5 of a tied first-round WHL playoff series.

“It was pretty great,” Steenbergen said. “They came out pretty strong so we had to push back at the end of the first into the second. We did a good job at that and we gotta bring it again tomorrow.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECAP FROM SWIFT CURRENT ONLINE

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Re-Live 2018: A nervous day off

Broncos

Photo by Robert Murray/WHL

Playoffs are an emotinoal roller coaster for sure. After the first and third games of the series the fans in Swift Current were riding high. After giving up six goals in Game 4 there were some very nervous fans worried about a team that went all in golfing early at the hands of the same organization that had knocked them out of the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.

The good news on the off day was that Josh Anderson had inked his NHL contract with the Colorado Avalanche and became one of several Broncos to turn pro in the 2018-19 season. That of course made Dean Brockman’s job tougher this season, but it is always a positive for the organization to see their players get a chance to advance their careers.

Beyond that there was a lot of nail biting ahead of a big Game 5 on March 30th.

 

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