Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb (before the Mackay news):
It was a busy two days of Broncos news with a lot of goodbyes in the mix. The Broncos cloudy overage situation has certainly cleared up lately. With the departures now of Jay Merkley, Zac Mackay, Tanner LeSann, Ayrton Nikkel and Linden Penner there are only a couple of players left standing.
Mackay chose to wrap up his WHL career rather than return this fall. The Broncos also gave LeSann, Nikkel and Penner their releases so they could have sufficient time to pursue other hockey opportunities. They all certainly made their contributions to the team. Mackay and LeSann stand out as they were both full time players for three seasons. They are both players who will be remembered for their heart as shut down forwards who were never afraid to take on bigger players in the corners or dropping the gloves. They will certainly be missed.
There is a lot of turnover in junior hockey sometimes and this off season is certainly an example of that. In addition to the five players I mentioned the Broncos also graduated Carter Rigby, Coda Gordon and Colby Cave. Brett Lernout and Dillon Heatherington are also likely gone since they’re signed professionals heading into their 20-year-old season meaning they can play in the AHL at least.
That means the Broncos are looking at ten departures if not more. It opens the door for some young blood and maybe the occasional veteran who is looking for a new opportunity. We’ve seen that before with players like Ryon Moser, Levi Bews, Chance Lund, Connor Sanvido and others.
It’ll be fun to have a bit of a youth movement here too. There are a lot of exciting young players on the current roster and in the system. There should be a fresh feeling to the lineup in September.
On that note… the schedule is out. You can see both the pre-season and regular season schedule at WHL.ca. The main issue of note in the regular season is that the western trip is in mid-November this year instead of early October.
HOCKEY CANADA INVITES
There were a couple of Hockey Canada invites for Broncos players this week. Jake DeBrusk has been invited to the World Junior summer camp for Team Cnaada, while Dominic Schmiemann was invited to the U17 summer camp.
For DeBrusk it’s another significant step in what has been a season to remember. He led the Broncos with 42 goals, flew up the NHL draft rankings, played the CHL top prospects game and is days away from being drafted… possibly in the first round. Now he has an opportunity to be part of Team Caanada a year after teammate Dillon Heatherington won gold with the red and white.
As much as there is turnover in Swift Current there is also much to be excited about. A lot of that excitement is connectd to DeBrusk and Glenn Gawdin heading into this weekend at the draft. They are just the latest Broncos to be in the picture this time of the year after three guys were drafted in the top three rounds last year.
It’s gorgeous outside, Frontier Days start tomorrow and yet it’s starting to feel like hockey season. Mid-August and training camp is around the corner. I can’t wait.