Congrats to Andy Blanke on his decision to attend and play hockey at the University of Saskatchewan. Blanke will forego his final season of WHL eligibility to play for the defending Canada West champions and start his schooling. In addition to being one of the toughest players in the WHL, Blanke was also one of the smartest. He won Swift Current’s academic award this past season and will utilize those smarts in developing a very successful and lucrative career.
The move leaves Swift Current with one fewer returning overage player in the fall. Are guys like Magnus, Moser and Reum feeling a little safer today? We’ll see what kind of moves the Broncos make before the end of the summer.
Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb on Blanke (Download)
I talked to Andy a bit about it at the WW Smith Broncos Alumni Golf Classic (more on that later) and he’s looking forward to getting started with the rest of his life. If Blanke wanted a pro career he would have had to continue dropping the mitts. This way he’s able to keep playing hockey without fighting so much and start in what will be a great career for him. Combine that with his successful family farm and the future looks bright for Blanke.
I hope to have an interview with him shortly.
As for Blanke’s contribution to the Broncos, he was a huge part of the changing identity here last season. Blanke’s toughness and determination were exactly what the Broncos were trying to build. In addition to having as much heart as anyone in the league, Blanke developed into one of the toughest and most feared scrappers. I remember in my first year here he wasn’t afraid to fight anyone and could stand with anyone… but didn’t win too many of those battles. In his final WHL season Blanke really worked on his punching power and became one of the most feared combatants out there. That’s a testament to his work ethic.
Blanke could play a strong two-way role as well. I remember specifically when he was moved up to the top line to face Brandon’s top line late in the season. He made a big contribution with his physicality and smarts to shutting down one of the most dangerous lines in the league. He has a good shot, scored a few big goals over his three years, was a top scorer in midget and again was the type of player who left it all on the ice. Blanke was a leader and a class act. The Broncos will certainly miss him as he heads off to school.