Brock­man’s Bron­cos mak­ing strides

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - GREG HARDER gharder@post­media.com

The ri­valry be­tween the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos and Regina Pats reached new heights last sea­son, cul­mi­nat­ing at the 2018 Memo­rial Cup in Regina.

This sea­son, how­ever, it’s a bat­tle of the base­ment.

The once-mighty clubs — slated to meet Sat­ur­day night at the Brandt Cen­tre — are each in the early stages of a ma­jor re­build and it shows in the WHL stand­ings. Head­ing into Fri­day ’s ac­tion, Swift Cur­rent resided at the bot­tom of the 22-team league at 3-14-0-1.

Regina was just three points ahead at 5-12-0-0.

Al­though both clubs have strug­gled, they’ve also played bet­ter as of late. Prior to Fri­day’s meet­ing with the Tri-city Amer­i­cans, the Pats had won two of their last three games, in­clud­ing a 7-1 tri­umph over Swift Cur­rent.

Fol­low­ing that loss, the Bron­cos picked up at least a point in three straight games, be­gin­ning with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Koote­nay Ice. That was fol­lowed by their first win­ning streak of the sea­son cour­tesy of back-to-back over­time vic­to­ries — 5-4 over the Leth­bridge Hur­ri­canes and 4-3 over the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings.

“It is a re­lief but I thought prior to the game in Regina we had played three re­ally solid games in B.C. and didn’t get the re­sults,” of­fered Bron­cos head coach and di­rec­tor of hockey op­er­a­tions Dean Brock­man, whose team lost 5-3 in Kam­loops, 3-1 in Prince Ge­orge and 3-2 in Kelowna.

“We could have won any one of those three games. That’s when the switch kind of flipped for us.”

Prior to their re­cent turn­around, it had been a chal­lenge for the Bron­cos to re­main up­beat.

“You go down that road and the only thing you can do is stay pos­i­tive,” Brock­man said. “If you get neg­a­tive it doesn’t help. It doesn’t change things. But if you’re pos­i­tive, ev­ery­one has a lit­tle bit more jump in their step, cares a lit­tle bit more. You show them that you care, so they care more. All those things are steps that we’ve taken that have re­ally helped us.”

A cou­ple wins don’t hurt, ei­ther.

To get a cou­ple of wins and the way we’ve done it is re­ally a tes­ta­ment to what our play­ers have en­dured.

“Get­ting re­warded is a big thing,” con­tin­ued Brock­man, whose team was slated to meet the league­lead­ing Prince Al­bert Raiders on Fri­day. “We were try­ing to find the small re­wards be­fore within our game to show the guys that we are im­prov­ing but to get a cou­ple of wins and the way we’ve done it is re­ally a tes­ta­ment to what our play­ers have en­dured. They’ve shown us the char­ac­ter, they’ve shown us that they want to work hard, they’ve shown us that they want to win. It’s just a mat­ter of try­ing to ex­e­cute and be­ing more con­sis­tent at times.”

Like his coun­ter­part in Regina, Brock­man has noth­ing but good things to say about the com­mit­ment of his play­ers and the way they ’ve man­aged to stay the course.

“It has been un­be­liev­able, to be hon­est, es­pe­cially for the guys who ex­pe­ri­enced noth­ing but win­ning,” he added. “Now all of a sud­den you ex­pe­ri­ence noth­ing but los­ing. It would have been easy for them to say you don’t know what you’re do­ing as a staff or gave up on us but it has been ex­actly the op­po­site. They’ve worked hard to help lead the team. They ’re draw­ing on their ex­pe­ri­ences in a win­ning sea­son to help us in a los­ing sea­son. It has been a lot of fun that way.”

Note: The Pats trimmed down to eight de­fence­men on Fri­day by send­ing Parker Gavlas, 19, to the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings for an eighthround pick in the 2019 ban­tam draft.

LIAM RICHARDS

The Dean Brock­man-coached Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos are to meet the Regina Pats on Sat­ur­day at the Brandt Cen­tre.

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