Short but sweet stay for Bronco over­agers

Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN MAH SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

They only com­bined for 96 games in a Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos uni­form, but three over­age play­ers will re­mem­ber their time in Swift Cur­rent fondly.

Jor­dan Papirny, Ry­ley Lind­gren, and Ryan Gra­ham all con­cluded lengthy Western Hockey League ca­reers with pro­duc­tive stints in Swift Cur­rent, help­ing the Bron­cos to a 39-23-4-5 record in the reg­u­lar sea­son, be­fore up­set­ting the Moose Jaw War­riors in the open­ing round of the play­offs.

The Bron­cos pushed the Regina Pats, the top ranked ju­nior team in the coun­try, to game seven be­fore be­ing elim­i­nated in the sec­ond round.

“I mean it is pretty emo­tional ob­vi­ously,” said Lind­gren af­ter a 5-1 game seven loss in Regina. “It is not the way we wanted to go out, but I mean we are def­i­nitely re­ally proud of the group we have in there, the char­ac­ter we showed. We didn’t come as hard as we wanted tonight and they ended up be­ing the bet­ter team. Ku­dos to them and good luck to them in the rest of the play­offs.”

“I think we def­i­nitely need to take some time and look back at what a suc­cess­ful sea­son we had,” added Papirny. “I think be­fore I was here, just from day one no one re­ally gave this team a chance. We battled all year. From the time I got here and just see­ing what a great group we had and what char­ac­ter we had and the re­silience we had in the room was un­be­liev­able. I am just re­ally proud to fin­ish my ca­reer as a Swift Cur­rent Bronco.”

Gra­ham was a spec­ta­tor for the play­offs af­ter his WHL ca­reer was ended by a knee in­jury. “I am proud of the guys. I think they did great. I think they worked as hard as they could out there and they put to­gether a pretty good run. It was spe­cial to be a part of nonethe­less,” he said.

The Bron­cos ex­ceeded most ex­pec­ta­tions by ad­vanc­ing to the sec­ond round and push­ing the Pats to the brink of elim­i­na­tion.

“I am so proud of the group we have in here,” said Lind­gren. “I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my ca­reer with any other group of guys, go­ing to war and play­ing with those guys ev­ery day, com­ing to the rink, I re­ally loved to come to the rink again. I had the best times of my life play­ing here with these guys.”

“I think just we have a great team, that’s plain and sim­ple,” added Papirny. “If we didn’t have a great team it wouldn’t have gone to seven games. We have a great group. We have a real re­silient group and un­be­liev­able char­ac­ter in that room. I can’t speak enough about ev­ery­one in that room and that speaks to our on-ice per­for­mance for sure.”

“We have re­ally good ca­ma­raderie in the room,” added Gra­ham. “The guys are like brothers out there. We knew we had a very good hockey team. A lot of peo­ple didn’t count us as a com­peti­tor out there, but I think we cer­tainly proved some peo­ple wrong. We were just a re­ally good, tight team. I think that gen­er­ated into a good play­off run.”

Papirny was sim­ply out­stand­ing while start­ing all 14 games in the play­offs, finishing with a 2.48 goals against av­er­age and a 0.935 save per­cent­age. He had played his first three full sea­sons with the Bran­don Wheat Kings be­fore join­ing the Bron­cos at the trade dead­line.

“Com­ing here in Jan­uary you meet a lot of new peo­ple, a lot of new faces, coach­ing staff, and all that. But I think it is ob­vi­ously go­ing to be tough to say good­bye. More im­por­tantly, I am just happy I met ev­ery­one that played on this team. I met a lot of re­ally good peo­ple that I am go­ing to be friends for life with all these guys.”

Lind­gren was ac­quired from the Leth­bridge Hur­ri­canes prior to the trade dead­line. He led the Bron­cos with eight goals and 15 points in the play­offs.

“Yeah it was the best ju­nior hockey times of my life here in Swift Cur­rent. Def­i­nitely last sum­mer com­ing into this sea­son I wouldn’t have ex­pected this for sure. I wouldn’t change a thing and I have no re­grets this year and def­i­nitely proud to fin­ish my ca­reer off as a Swift Cur­rent Bronco.”

The Bron­cos, un­der the lead­er­ship of first-year head coach Manny Viveiros, won their first play­off se­ries since 2008 and were only one win away from ad­vanc­ing to the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal for the first time since 2001.

“All the credit goes to Manny and the coach­ing staff and ev­ery­thing they do for us and all the count­less hours they have and how they be­lieve in us. I think that is def­i­nitely huge and I think that is def­i­nitely what drove us,” ex­plained Lind­gren. “The way how he [Viveiros] is calm and col­lected dur­ing these play­offs re­ally helped us out and re­ally helped us through the low mo­ments and re­ally helped us calm down from the high mo­ments as well. It sucks we can’t move a bit fur­ther and win for him, but it was a plea­sure play­ing for him and for guys mov­ing for­ward they have big­ger things com­ing for this pro­gram.”

“Oh un­be­liev­able. He be­lieved in me right from the start,” added Papirny. “I owe him a lot for ac­quir­ing me ob­vi­ously and giv­ing me a chance to play ev­ery night. He is an un­be­liev­able coach and a great men­tor for our team. He has got noth­ing but good things to come for this team.”

Gra­ham suited up in 248 reg­u­lar sea­son games be­fore be­ing ac­quired from the Saska­toon Blades early in the reg­u­lar sea­son. He in­jured his knee in Jan­uary, re­turned briefly for two games, but played his fi­nal game on Jan­uary 22.

“It was hugely dis­ap­point­ing for me,” said Gra­ham mo­ments af­ter the Bron­cos game seven loss. “Only be­ing in one play­off game in five years, when I got traded here the hap­pi­est mo­ment was know­ing that I was go­ing to get to play in the play­offs. So ob­vi­ously it re­ally stung when I couldn’t.”

The 6’1’’ for­ward from Cal­gary was only able to suit up for 21 games, post­ing 23 points, pro­duc­tion that he hopes will help him play hockey pro­fes­sion­ally in the near fu­ture.

“I guess time will tell. But I def­i­nitely thought Swift Cur­rent was a great fit for me and I en­joyed the time I did play here. It was great and I am go­ing to have only good mem­o­ries of be­ing a Bronco. I wish I could have been in­volved in some more games, but it was great.”

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