Cham­pi­onship rings cel­e­brate Bron­cos pas­sion


While Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos fans have been clam­our­ing for sou­venirs to com­mem­o­rate the 2018 Western Hockey League Cham­pi­onship, Bron­cos play­ers and staff have the ul­ti­mate keep­sake with their cham­pi­onship rings.

Re­turn­ing play­ers, such as for­wards Macken­zie Wight and Tan­ner Nagel, re­ceived their rings when they got back to Swift Cur­rent.

Wight re­turned to Swift Cur­rent early to help coach at the Bron­cos Hockey School.

“But­ter [trainer Jamie Leblanc] sur­prised the boys with re­ceiv­ing our rings. It’s a feel­ing that a lot of play­ers don’t get. Ev­ery year only one team gets it. Be­ing a part of that good a group and ac­com­plish­ing so much is a re­ally weird, cool ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Wight.

“I came back here and came to talk to Buttsy,” ex­plained Nagel. “He said he had a sur­prise for us. He grabbed it and showed it to me and I was just kind of speech­less. I couldn’t be­lieve it. It’s still pretty un­be­liev­able. Just to get it from him was some­thing special for sure.”

Re­ceiv­ing the rings brought some mem­o­ries rush­ing back for Nagel and Wight.

“There’s a lot of things that it brought back. It was just how much fun we had do­ing it and just the feel­ing you got when we won. I could pic­ture when that buzzer went in the third pe­riod of that last game in Swift Cur­rent and how loud it was. Just throw­ing my gloves up and get­ting in the pile with the boys, it was awe­some,” said Nagel.

“Yeah it brought up all the high­lights like win­ning tour­na­ments as a young kid, this is just way big­ger though,” added Wight.

Wight said his ring was stored safely at home.

“I’ve worn it a cou­ple times out to din­ner just to show peo­ple,” said Nagel. “It came in these nice lit­tle glass case box and it kind of just sits in my room. I will pull it out to show peo­ple, but I’m prob­a­bly not go­ing to wear it too much.”

The rings were dis­persed to the Board of Di­rec­tors, of­fice staff, scout­ing staff, hockey op­er­a­tions, and, of course, the play­ers, in­clud­ing play­off callups.

The cham­pi­onship rings in­clude the Bron­cos logo and the four-leaf clover honouring the four Bron­cos killed in the 1986 bus crash.

“On the in­side we have the 26 games we played in the play­offs, which was pretty cool, and then our play­off slo­gan, which is awe­some to see. It’s hon­estly such a beau­ti­ful ring, there’s so many lit­tle de­tails to it that you re­ally have to see it to ap­pre­ci­ate,” ex­plained Nagel.

The team’s play­off slo­gan was a dic­tionary def­i­ni­tion of the word pas­sion:

“Pas­sion. [pashuhn] 1. to suf­fer for some­thing you truly care about.”

The num­ber 26 rep­re­sents the Cana­dian Hockey League record 26 play­off games the Bron­cos played to ad­vance past the Regina Pats, Moose Jaw War­riors, Leth­bridge Hur­ri­canes, and the Everett Sil­ver­tips, cul­mi­nat­ing with a 3-0 win over the vis­it­ing Sil­ver­tips on May 13.

Leblanc, the long­time Head Ath­letic Trainer and Equip­ment Man­ager, helped de­sign the rings.

“I kind of worked with Jamie Porter and Gawds [Glenn Gawdin] to de­sign it. Ev­ery time I see it or ev­ery time I looked at it or when they showed up my mind went right back to the Sun­day night against Everett, 10 sec­onds to go and the at­mos­phere in here was un­be­liev­able. I have never heard it this crazy… Then see­ing the play­ers and our staff that have bat­tled through the whole year, es­pe­cially guys like Gawds and [Tyler] Steen­ber­gen and Siss [Colby Sis­sons], guys who were with us for a long time and know­ing that they had a chance to win, that for me is the mem­ory of it all.”

Leblanc has also had the priv­i­lege of pre­sent­ing many of the rings to the re­turn­ing play­ers.

“It’s cool. You can just see it on ev­ery­body. They come in and I give them the ring, it’s not like it’s a big pre­sen­ta­tion, I’m just a low-end trainer here that gives it to them. They’re pumped. Guys have a smile from ear to ear. They’re so happy to see it. Al­ways they put it right on and they’re look­ing at it. It’s pretty cool and it’s re­ward­ing. That was a pretty special year last year and for ev­ery­body it just brings back the mem­ory. Ev­ery­body has their own thoughts on what they re­mem­ber from the year or play­offs, but you can just see it’s like a lit­tle eu­pho­ria for ev­ery­body. They’re just happy as can be as soon as they see it.”

Leblanc has also been in charge of the size­able ef­fort to get the rings out to play­ers and staff who are scat­tered across the coun­try and beyond.

Porter was able to dis­trib­ute a bunch of the rings around the Ed­mon­ton area. Leblanc’s wife re­cently hand de­liv­ered an­other group of rings in the Cal­gary area, while for­mer as­sis­tant coach Jamie’s He­ward’s wife was tak­ing a bunch of rings to the Van­cou­ver area. Leblanc said he still had a hand­ful of rings to ship out to play­ers.

Leblanc said the Bron­cos spent about six weeks on fi­nal­iz­ing the de­sign of the rings. Af­ter ev­ery­one was sized up then it took Jostens an­other six to eight weeks to man­u­fac­ture the rings.

The fans will get their own chance to com­mem­o­rate the cham­pi­onship sea­son on Septem­ber 21 when the Bron­cos raise the East­ern Con­fer­ence and WHL Cham­pi­onship ban­ners prior to the sea­son opener. They will be the first two ban­ners to be raised at the In­no­va­tion Credit Union iplex since 2001.

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