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Highlights of The New Pioneer Co-op Broncos Hockey (Download)
Post-Game Interviews with Darren Evjen, Landon Bow and Ryon Moser (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Mark Lamb (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Blades GM/Coach Lorne Molleken (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Graham Black (Download)
The Q with Dillon Heatherington (Download)
Pre-Game Interview with Blades Owner Jack Brodsky (Download)
- B&A Petroleum Game Shifter: Saskatoon’s tying goal
- Low Cost Towing Unsung Hero: Dillon Heatherington
- Standard Motors Crunch of the Game: Graham Black
- Herbert Auto Tough Guy of the Game: Richard Nedomlel
What do you say at this point? It almost feels like a cruel joke to have four games go like that to start a season. I know I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that.
While the Broncos have been to overtime and lost four times this season, Gregg Drinnan noted there have been only six other overtime games in total around the league. That’s a startling statistic for sure. However, he also mentioned it in the context of the so-called “loser point” and how the Broncos are on pace for a good point total despite having lost four games.
Fair enough, but the overtime point structure as it is lends itself to playing a certain way in OT. Under the old system where you’d only get a single point in a tie… I’m sure teams would approach overtime with slightly less aggression. The shoot out also is basically just a skills competition for an extra point and I’ve never really thought the winner in that situation could point to themselves as the better team on that night anyway.
I have always said that the point system is worth examining. I have no problem with the “loser points” as much as I do with giving the same value to an overtime/shoot out win as you do to a regulation win. In a perfect world I’d rather see 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an OT/shoot out win and 1 for an OT/shoot out loss.
At this point all that really matters is what’s in the rule book and as it stands now the Broncos have 6 points in 5 games. That’s nothing to be too unhappy about even if they’ve found a frustrating way to do it.
Would the players and fans be less frustrated about a 3-2 start? Probably. However, the way the Broncos have started the season is probably a better indication of a team with quality talent. They’ve been in every game they’ve played and had an opportunity to win every game they’ve played. In fact, the Broncos have had third period leads in each game they’ve played so far.
Of course it’s frustrating when you can’t hold a lead and then can’t find away to convert in overtime. Of course it’s frustrating to lose games no matter how you lose them. It’s still a good sign for the season at a whole that they are putting themselves in the position to win late in games. There is no reason they can’t make the improvements necessary to learn how to close out games.
On Saturday you can point directly to two late penalties as the cause of Saskatoon sending the game to overtime. You can also point to some aggressive pinches at the wrong time and missed coverages for some of the odd man rushes or even breakaways the Blades had. These are mistakes they can address. Making an error is one thing, while not having the talent to win is another. So far the talent has been on display and the late game judgement has at times been in question.
Before Saturday’s game Mark Lamb told me he was really looking forward to having a full week of practice. This club has a lot to work on and after 3 games in 4 days he was glad they have six days between games to deal with some of those issues. It’s so early in the season that there’s tons of time to learn, evolve and improve. It stings now, but two months from now we’ll look back at this overtime streak and smirk. It’s how they learn from it that will really matter in the long run.
I should also mention the fantastic play by Landon Bow. For a 17-year-old rookie goaltender to make his regular season debut against the Memorial Cup hosts and play like that is extremely impressive. If not for those late penalties we very easily could have been talking about a shutout. He was poised, in good position, did a solid job with his rebound and stopped some high quality chances including a third period breakaway. That doesn’t mean we can expect that level of performance from him every day. I think the Broncos are just hoping to have someone in that role who can push Laurikainen and give them a chance to win when called upon. The first impression from Bow is that he can do just that. We’ll see if Myland gets a chance to show the same thing and how long the three goalie situation lasts.
It was great to see Reece Scarlett back on the ice for the Broncos. Scarlett and Dillon Heatherington provide such a calming presence in their own zone and are both key on special teams. I thought Walker played a solid, simple and effective game while Scarlett was out and Zinkan was also good in the one game he played. It’s good for the team to know they have options in case of injuries or in case someone needs a night off for performance reasons. The competition is certainly there on D.
I remember watching the Blades/Broncos games two years ago and thinking to myself how much Saskatoon pushed the Broncos around. You sure can’t say that anymore.
Discipline is still an issue though. A lot of the shot advantage Saskatoon had in the game can be tied to the 7-3 edge they had in power play opportunities. The Blades are a very skilled team with good depth. If you put them on the PP that many times they are going to get chances and they’re going to eventually score. The Broncos are a physical team and are going to get extra attention from referees because of that. They have to make sure they aren’t taking it too far especially at key times.
Again 6 points through 5 games is nothing to sneeze at. Nobody is happy with the final result of the overtime games. That doesn’t mean they weren’t entertaining and that they haven’t been playing mostly good hockey. I’d say the games we’ve seen have certainly been worth the price of admission. Now we wait to see if this club can make the necessary improvements and find a way to close out games.
Congrats to the Legionnaires and Raiders for good starts to their regular seasons this weekend. We’ve got the details over at Swift Current Online.
Have a good week!