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Wednesday, 03 April 2013 15:53

Broncos now educated, won’t be schooled again

Written by  Brad Brown
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Dalton Reum offered no excuses.

“You have to win four games in the series and we only won one,” the departing Swift Current Broncos defenceman said.
Neither did Adam Lowry.
“We had a chance to move on and we weren’t able to do it,” said the team’s (presumably) outgoing captain.
If the 2013-14 Broncos take the underlying message to heart, this year’s team will ultimately be measured not by what they accomplished but by what they learned.
First and foremost they learned about the right and wrong ways to deal with adversity.
Coda Gordon, Graham Black and Daniel Dale were each suspended two games this year — suspensions the team declared highly questionable.
While the officiating this year was generally pretty decent at the iplex, two games — Jan. 25 against Moose Jaw and March 26 against Calgary — justifiably left a very bitter taste in the team’s collective mouth.
And of course there was a horrendous stretch of injuries before Christmas that had the Broncos dressing nine WHL rookies for much of December.
Through that time they learned a lot about leadership, most notably from Lowry who put the team on his back with a 21-game point streak amidst the train wreck of injuries and almost singlehandedly kickstarted the Broncos’ second-half turnaround.
Painful as it was some nights to watch, they learned that goals don’t come easy. It’s a valuable lesson for the Broncos’ youngsters who were used to scoring at will on their previous teams.
They learned to stand up for each other after an early-season stretch where they seemed to get pushed around more nights than not.
They learned — in case it wasn’t already clear — that there is plenty of opportunity for young players in Swift Current under head coach Mark Lamb.
Brycen Martin was the most prominent rookie this year, playing regular top-four minutes as well as on both special teams, but Zac Mackay, Landon Bow and Tanner LeSann were also put in positions to succeed throughout the season.
They learned that major junior hockey is about more than hanging out with your buddies when popular veteran Josh Derko was traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in January.
And most important of all, they learned what it’s like to not only play, but win (brief as the feeling was) in the WHL playoffs.
This year’s Broncos went into the Calgary series with a combined 18 games of playoff experience. Among next year’s 11 most likely returnees there are now 70.
“The young guys, they have to learn from this,” said Lowry. “It’s valuable experience. It was a pretty raw group going into the playoffs and not knowing what to expect. Not a lot of us were battle tested.
“I know it was just five games, but they learned a lot of lessons from that. A few overtime games and a few calls where that’s adversity, and you have to learn how to deal with that if you’re going to be a successful playoff team.”
While it wasn’t the most elegant post-season exit, even this season on its own has to be viewed as at least a modest success.
A return to the playoffs after two years on the outside is no small feat in itself, in terms of fan engagement, recruitment and finances.
One estimate pegged the financial windfall to the team for each home playoff game at $30,000-$40,000.
“(We made) huge strides,” said Lamb, “as an organization, how we played as a team, how our identity is starting to form … there’s so many good things.”
And, most importantly, no excuses.

Read 1480 times Last modified on Friday, 05 April 2013 08:59