Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Broncos hope to stay high and dry in Portage

- By Darren Zary

There will be the traditiona­l flooding in between periods, of course.

Other than that, however, the Humboldt Broncos aren’t expecting any flood waters to impede their way to Portage la Prairie in flood-ravished Manitoba.

The Broncos will board a bus this morning and head down the Yellowhead Highway for their sixhour trek.

“Don’t scare me — no we haven’t (changed any travel plans), not that I’m aware of,” Broncos coach and general manager Dean Brockman said Wednesday.

“(Highway 16) is the way we’ll go, but that (Red River flooding) is something else, though. Somebody was telling me yesterday that, in one place, the river is 16 miles wide — like, that’s from here (Humboldt) to Fulda.”

The Broncos and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion Portage Terriers will begin their Anavet Cup best-of-seven series Friday in Portage. Game 2 will also be played there before the series resumes in Humboldt next Tues- day, Wednesday and, if necessary, Thursday.

After a little send-off Wednesday, the Broncos will skate this morning before boarding the bus. Following a 10-day layoff, they’ll be more than ready to play.

“We’ve had our tough practices — they’re out of the way now — and we have a little bit of tweaking here and there,” said Brockman, the SJHL’s coach of the year. “Really, the last couple of days, it’s been about having a lot of fun and keeping the guys loose and just trying to get them away from the competitiv­e situation day in and day out.”

The Broncos swept the Terriers four straight last year, but Brockman expects Portage to be better prepared.

“Obviously,

the revenge

factor comes into play a little bit,” he said. “We were in that situation where we lost to Selkirk in 2007 and we wanted to redeem ourselves in ’08. You want to bring your best game possible and that’s all I can ask of my guys.”

Portage coach Blake Spiller expects a better effort from his team this time around. While there could always be a flood of emotions forthcomin­g, he does not foresee any flooding in the vicinity of Portage.

“We’re OK where we are,” said Spiller, whose team finished with a 46-13-3 record in the MJHL this season. “It (flooding) is a little bit more south and more west, so hopefully we’ll be OK.

“They (Broncos) will just come down the No. 16, the Yellowhead, and they’ll be fine.”

BREAKAWAYS: F Tory Allan (spleen) has resumed practising with the Broncos but is doubtful to see any game action in Portage. “We’re hoping to have him back when we play in Humboldt,” said Brockman, “but that’s kind of one of those things where he has to give you the OK to go. When he gives us that OK, we’ll try to get him back going.” . . . The Broncos are expected to go with G Mathieu LaRochelle in net. “We’re leaning that way,” Brockman said. “He had the hot hand in the league final and he’s getting his confidence back. Andrew ( Bodnarchuk) is not completely 100 per cent, either. You go with the guy who got you there and that’s the way we’re leaning right now.”

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