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