Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:54

Rider pride hides Broncos’ trouble in Alberta

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard's Eye View
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A good chunk of Kory Sheets’ salary this year has been invested (wisely) in cattle.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders running back has reportedly supplied his offensive line with hamburgers after each 100-yard game as a reward for providing his camouflage.
This week the Swift Current Broncos would have been gracious to pick up at least part of the tab.
Saskatchewan’s O-line cloaked Sheets to the tune of 177 yards Sunday as the Riders advanced to the Grey Cup with a 35-13 win over the Calgary Stampeders.
With that, they also guarded the Broncos from scrutiny as Rider Pride exploded all over again and nary a peep was uttered when Swift Current returned home winless from a two-game road trip in Alberta.
If we’re being honest, most of our fine city and province was probably far too drunk to care by the time the team bus rolled back into the iplex parking lot Sunday evening. (And, if you believe one recent PR campaign in Toronto, “I was in a drunken stupor” can be used to safely explain away anything.)
For those who weren’t in a full-on football frenzy, maybe it’s just that the Broncos did exactly as they were expected to do.
The WHL’s East Division has long been perceived as the weak younger sibling of the Central Division, which features the five Alberta-based teams and Kootenay Ice.
That sentiment is displayed prominently on the Ed Chynoweth Trophy, where no East Division team has had its name engraved as league champion since the 1995-96 Brandon Wheat Kings.
Since then, Central Division teams have won it all 10 times with Alberta teams combining for seven of those championships. The Broncos themselves have done little to change that mindset lately, sporting losing records against Alberta in each of the last five seasons.
It’s become a given that when a team from Alberta is involved the Broncos are going to lose more times than not. No one in Swift Current’s dressing room is consciously thinking that way of course, but they’re well aware too that the Central Division’s reputation as the best in the league precedes it.
So to take down a pair of Goliaths on one road trip, yeah, it would have been a huge deal. You could have called it a signal to the rest of the WHL this year’s Broncos are for real, a coming of age for a healthy and exceptionally talented group already on a nine-game win streak.
Instead, they blew a lead in the final minute Nov. 15 against Calgary en route to a 3-2 shootout loss. The next night in Edmonton they scored twice in the third period to tie the game but eventually fell 4-2.
New group of Broncos, same old result.
In terms of the rebuild that head coach and general manager Mark Lamb insists is just beginning this season, maybe it truly is good enough for now to just be the beasts of the East. If the Broncos ever want to contend, one day they’ll need to be much more than that.

This week:
Nov. 13 - SC 3 vs. KTN 0
Noteworthy: It was the first time the Broncos had shut an opponent out this year and the third time the Ice had been on the receiving end of a shutout ... Black scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal to put Swift up 2-0 in the first ... Projected first overall NHL draft pick Sam Reinhart was dominated physically by Zac Mackay throughout the game.
Nov. 15 - SC 2 @ CGY 3 (SO)
Noteworthy: Calgary D Kenton Helgesen tied the game with 54 seconds left and Russian rookie Radel Fazleev had the shootout winner to make up for a double minor penalty earlier in the game and end Swift Current’s nine-game winning streak … Landon Bow made his ninth start of the year in goal, leaving him one shy of his total from all of 2012-13.
Nov. 16 - SC 2 @ EDM 4
Noteworthy: Down 2-0, the Broncos scored twice in the first 3:01 of the third period but gave up a power play goal to Mitch Moroz four minutes later with Glenn Gawdin in the box for tripping … Graham Black had a goal and an assist to extend his points-streak to 11 games. Black has 20 points in that span.
Nov. 19 - SC 2 vs. BDN 3 (SO)
Cole Bevan replaced Honka in the Broncos' lineup after Honka fell sick ... Swift also lost forwards Coda Gordon and Justin Spagrud to injuries in the first period and overtime, respectively ... Eetu Laurikainen made 47 saves as the Broncos suffered their third straight loss, though two of them have come in the shootout.
Record: 15-9-0-3

Read 7003 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 November 2013 06:36

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