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Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:21

Blanke to Flin Flon (maybe), Laurikainen is back

Written by  Brad Brown, Broncos' Notebook
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Former Swift Current Broncos forward Andy Blanke and current University of Saskatchewan Huskies forward signed with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. However, the 6’2” 200 lbs Swift Current native and engineering student will remain with the Huskies for the time being.


Blanke, a veteran of more than 200 WHL games with his hometown Broncos, announced his intentions last summer to forgo his over-age season with Swift Current in favour of the CIS ranks. In 206 games with the Broncos, he had 28 points and 322 penalty minutes.
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The end of the NHL’s lockout is bad news for junior teams across the country, whose best players could be called to join pro training camps and eventually stick in either the NHL or the minor leagues.
The Swift Current Broncos, however, are safe as none of their drafted players were on the call-up lists NHL teams had to provide to the Canadian Hockey League prior to the beginning of the lockout.
Drafted Broncos include defencemen Richard Nedomlel (Detroit Red Wings) and Reece Scarlett (New Jersey Devils) along with forwards Adam Lowry (Winnipeg Jets), Coda Gordon (Calgary Flames) and Graham Black (New Jersey Devils).
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The Broncos made a trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes late Monday afternoon as they traded Josh Derko and a 2013 third round bantam draft pick to the ‘Canes  for highly-regarded 17-year-old forward Jay Merkley. Merkley has recorded 22 points (14G,8A) in 44 games played with the Lethbridge Hurricanes so far this season.  Last season, the 5’11”, 187-pound product of Calgary, AB tallied 12 goals and 11 assists in 58 games played in his rookie season with the Hurricanes.  He was selected 3rd overall by Lethbridge in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
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The Broncos were also pleased to have rookie defenceman Brycen Martin and starting goalie Eetu Laurikainen back in the lineup Wednesday against Red Deer.
In addition to battling a slew of injuries to their forwards, Swift Current’s back end was tested recently as Martin joined Team Pacific for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Quebec and Laurikainen suited up for Finland at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Russia.
Martin had nine points in five games at the U17 tourney to lead all defencemen in scoring and propel Team Pacific to a fifth-place finish.
Laurikainen didn’t see a minute of action for Finland as the team rode starter Joonas Korpisalo to one of the worst save percentages in the tournament and a seventh place finish. Laurikainen dressed as Korpisalo’s backup for the first three games of the tournament then was a scratch for the final round-robin game and both relegation games.
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Some Broncos prospects also found success over the holiday season — most notably for defenceman Domenic Masellis, whose Vancouver Northwest Giants won the Mac’s Midget AAA Hockey Tournament in Calgary.
The 15-year-old Masellis, a third-round pick in last summer’s Bantam Draft, had one assist in seven games for the Giants.
Other Broncos draftees in the tournament included 2012 picks Glenn Gawdin (first round/fifth overall), Wyatt Sloboshan (3/54), Jackson Keane (4/73), Maxime Lajoie (5/95) and Brandan Arnold (7/139), along with 2011 picks Zack Gonek (1/13) and Jake DeBrusk (7/137).
Gawdin led all Broncos prospects with nine points in the tournament.
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Another Broncos prospect, forward Jordan Wittman (3/46, 2011), made his season debut for the Broncos Dec. 29 in Medicine Hat.
Wittman was called up to help fill in as five Swift Current forwards were out hurt, and is now pointless in three WHL appearances. He was also called up after Christmas last season for two games.
Back at his full-time job, Wittman leads the Swift Current Legionnaires in scoring and is tied for 12th in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League scoring with 31 points in 28 games.
As of Wednesday morning Swift Current (18-20-3-2) sat seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point up on Regina for eighth and two back of Saskatoon for sixth.
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Upcoming games: Saturday vs. Calgary Hitmen; Tuesday at Moose Jaw Warriors
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Milestone Watch
*up to and including games of Jan. 8:
• Reece Scarlett: three games from 250 for his WHL career;
• Chance Lund: four games from 300 for his WHL career;
• Coda Gordon: eight points from 100 for his WHL career;
• Adam Lowry: 28 points from 200 for his WHL career.

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