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Interview with Broncos F Glenn Gawdin (Download)
Interview with Broncos Assistant Coach Darren Evjen (Download)
The Swift Current Broncos ran into penalty trouble and couldn’t overcome that in a 3-1 loss to Moose Jaw last night. It was the annual rookie game and featured lineups full of 15, 16 and 17-year-old players. It was a different lineup for the Broncos as they had to fill out their roster with some older guys like Colby Cave, Coda Gordon, Daniel Dale, Adam Smith and Eric Walker. It’s a bit of an unusual spot for those guys. Do you go in there and run over 15-year-old players? Especially in a game where any big hit was being called a penalty. The Broncos had to play them in order to have a full lineup, but they did feel a bit out-of-place during the game.
I almost think a game like that would have been better at the end of a weekend. It would be easier to keep some of the young guys around in that case.
The Broncos dominated early. They fired 15 shots in the first period to only 6 by Moose Jaw, but couldn’t get more than one behind 14-year-old goalie Zachary Sawchekno. The young goalie was very impressive for the Warriors in stopping 30 of the 31 total shots from Swift Current.
Moose Jaw actually struck first as Colton McCarthy converted on a broken play. The Broncos struck back when Tanner LeSann and Dakota Odgers set Glenn Gawdin up just as the 2012 first round draft pick came out of the penalty box. Click on the video highlights to see the laser of a shot Gawdin fired into the top corner for his first WHL exhibition goal. He’s going to be a player.
Penalty trouble was the story of the second period. The Broncos tried to play physical and got burned at every turn. They took seven straight penalties from the end of the first to the early part of the third and were shorthanded 9 times to only 2 for the Warriors. The penalty killers actually did a very good job limiting the Warriors to only a late 5 on 3 goal. They were aggressive and even created their share of chances on the PK. Of the rookie forwards I thought Mackay, Odgers and LeSann stood out for their PK work.
The issue with the penalties wasn’t so much that they gave up goals it was that it took away any rhythm they were trying to get and forced the Broncos to scale back their physical game. There wasn’t much flow to the game for either side. Special teams are never smooth during the pre-season let alone during a rookie game. A game full of PPs in a rookie game is a recipe for miscommunication and again lack of flow.
In the end the Broncos didn’t have much push back in the third period and the Warriors put it away after a weird 5 on 3 call late in the game. It was hardly a classic! I’m more looking forward to seeing the guys competing for roster spots in games against more WHL veterans and guys who will be in the league this season.
Moose Jaw really does have something to look forward to with Sawchenko just as the Broncos have every reason to be excited about Travis Child. The two 1997 goalies could be dueling it out in this rivalry for years to come. Child stopped 9 of the 10 shots he faced in half the game. Landon Bow came in and stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced in the second half. Could they be a future tandem for the Broncos when Child is ready to play at this level and Bow is at that point a veteran?
For now Bow still has to beat out Steven Myland for the second job this season. That will be something to watch closely as the exhibition schedule carries on.
Obviously you don’t wan to take a bunch of penalties, but it’s also good to see some of these young guys showing their physical side. Gawdin took three minors and will learn what the line is between good hits and penalties. It’s better that he’s doing that than shying away from the contact. If he has some power forward in him to go along with that skill he could be a very dangerous mix. Odgers, Bosc and Gonek also ended up in the sin bin, but again it’s good to see that those guys are willing to get in there and mix it up. This isn’t game one of a playoff series. It’s OK to make some mistakes here if your heart is in the right place.
I think all those guys battling for roster spots also realize they have to show they can handle the physical battles at this level. That doesn’t mean taking penalties. It does mean a willingness to get your nose dirty and the ability to stand in there without getting taken apart.
I think some things to watch for the rest of exhibition are of course the battles we’ve all been talking about since the start of camp, but also the question of will some of the guys be able to step up and fill in for the scoring lost with Vause and Hoban’s graduations. Guys like Vause, Gordon, Lowry, Black, Scarlett, Nedomlel and Moser stepped their contributions up in a big way last year when there were questions about Swift Current’s ability to score. Now with a couple of key guys gone there is room and need for others to step up their game and some of those guys to take it another level.
If they don’t show the ability to do that over exhibition management may be forced to make a move. The blue line is going to be strong. They should be tough to score on if Laurikainen can get the job done. Now the guys that are here have to show throughout the rest of the pre-season that they have enough offence in them to get into the playoffs. Otherwise, Mark Lamb will have to find another piece for the top six. That’s a subject I addressed with a few of the guys in contention for bigger roles and I’ll have a blog post with those interviews coming either tonight or tomorrow.
Next up the Broncos they head to Edmonton for two exhibition games in that annual gathering of teams. I’ll be there with some form of live coverage… I just don’t know how that will work yet. Did you prefer the live blogging last year to the live tweeting yesterday? Let me know and I’ll see if I can work something out.