|Glenn Gawdin celebrates a playoff goal for the Broncos.|
The overage centre has been a career member of the Swift Current Broncos having been selected by the team in the first round and fifth overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. The Richmond, B.C., product has played in five complete regular seasons with the Broncos piling up 126 goals, 187 assists and a plus-69 rating in the plus-minus department in 312 regular season games.
As a 16-year-old rookie in 2013-14, Gawdin, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 186 pounds, experienced a good campaign with the Broncos helping them compile a 38-25-3-6 regular season record before falling to the Medicine Hat Tigers in six games in a best-of-seven first round series.
After helping the Broncos make the post-season again as a 17-year-old sophomore, Gawdin experienced more of a down time with the Broncos as an 18-year-old, when the team missed the playoffs with a 24-38-7-3 record in the 2015-16 campaign.
Between those good and bad times, his effort level never lapsed.
Those times made the past two seasons that much more sweet. Gawdin became the Broncos captain near the start of his 19-year-old season, and the team rose to heights that haven’t been seen in Swift Current for about 15 years.
Centring a line with star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen and dynamic Finnish left-winger Aleksi Heponiemi, Gawdin was cemented in the heart of creating the Broncos new good times.
The Broncos posted a 39-23-4-6 record in the 2016-17 regular season and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors in a tough seven game series in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, the Broncos took a 3-1 series lead on the Regina Pats before the Pats rallied for three straight wins for a 4-3 series victory.
|Glenn Gawdin was the WHL playoff MVP.|
Fans in Swift Current treated the 2016-17 season as exciting, memorable and a high point for the team. Little did they know, Gawdin and his guys were about to take them on an even better ride.
In 2017-18, the Broncos rose to the status of being one of the powerhouse clubs in the WHL. They finished second overall in the circuit’s regular season standings with a 48-17-5-2 record.
Swift Current battled through a quartet of tough teams in the playoffs. The Broncos took down the Memorial Cup hosting Pats in seven games in the first round, the Moose Jaw Warriors in seven games in the second round, the Lethbridge Hurricanes in six games in the Eastern Conference Championship series and the Everett Silvertips in six games in the WHL Championship series.
Gawdin finished second in WHL regular season scoring piling up 56 goals, 69 assists and a plus-61 rating in 67 games. In the 26 contests the Broncos played in the WHL playoffs, Gawdin netted 14 goals, 18 assists and a plus-10 rating being named the MVP of the circuit’s post-season.
He came through in the clutch delivering eight game-winning goals in the regular season and four game-winning goals in the post-season. His signature moment came in Game 3 of the WHL Championship series netting a hat trick in a 3-2 overtime win for the Broncos over the Silvertips in Everett on May 8.
Steenbergen and Heponiemi both had memorable campaigns playing alongside Gawdin. Steenbergen had 47 goals and 55 assists in 56 regular season games and 12 goals and 15 assists in the Broncos 26 post-season contests.
Heponiemi finished third in WHL regular season scoring piling up 28 goals and 90 assists in 57 regular season games. In the Broncos 26 playoff games, Heponiemi had five goals and 25 assists.
|Glenn Gawdin raises the Ed Chynoweth Cup.|
Away from the game, Gawdin always represented the Broncos with class out in the community and in the media.
Broncos head coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros said Gawdin was a poster child for the WHL, a wonderful young man and an incredible ambassador for the league.
Truer words have never been spoken.
Last November, Gawdin signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames. While he has an exciting professional opportunity, Gawdin can depart from the Broncos on a dream high.
On Saturday, the Broncos begin play at the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina taking on the QMJHL champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan (2 p.m., Brandt Centre). The Broncos won their only Memorial Cup as CHL champions back in 1989.
If Gawdin can have a few more special games to help the Broncos capture the Memorial Cup again, he will always be the toast of Swift Current.
Steenbergen notes bigger significance of Broncos name
|Tyler Steenbergen breaks up ice for the Broncos.|
Of course, the Swift Current WHL franchise shares the same team nickname as the junior A Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
On April 6, the bus that was carrying the Humboldt Broncos to play a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game in Nipawin was involved in a collision with a semi-truck just north of Tisdale. The unthinkable event resulted in the deaths of 16 players and team personnel.
The Humboldt Broncos bus accident hits really close to home for the community of Swift Current. The Swift Current Broncos suffered through a single-vehicle team bus crash on December 30, 1986 resulting the deaths of four players. The Swift Current bus flew off the highway having hit a patch of black ice shortly after leaving town on route to a road game in Regina to play the Pats.
Steenbergen, who is the star 19-year-old right-winger with the Swift Current Broncos, knows how many links many people in the hockey community have to those that were on the Humboldt Broncos bus that day. He realizes everyone is trying to do their part to help the Humboldt club.
After Swift Current Broncos won the WHL Championship series on Sunday with a 3-0 win over the Everett Silvertips before a sellout crowd of 2,890 spectators at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex in Swift Current, Steenbergen was asked what the win meant to him being a career member of the Broncos and thoughts of Humboldt’s SJHL franchise inevitably came to mind.
“It is pretty special,” said Steenbergen, who has played four complete seasons with the Swift Current Broncos. “To hold the name as the Broncos, it is a thing we have taken huge since the (Humboldt bus) crash and everything.
“I think moving forward we’re doing it all for them. I think a lot of teams are going to be doing that. At the end of the day, we just have to play our game and the best will come.”
|A Swift Current fan displays a sign supporting two Broncos teams.|
Swift Current Broncos star overage centre Matteo Gennaro lost best friend Stephen Wack, who died in the Humboldt bus crash and was one of the team’s defencemen.
The two Broncos teams have other eerie similarities that Steenbergen was likely not aware of. The Humboldt Broncos were born in 1970 as the junior A affiliate of the Swift Current Broncos. From that link, the Humboldt franchise gained its name and the green and gold colour scheme that used to also be worn by the Swift Current franchise.
In the 1986-87 hockey season when the Swift Current Broncos bus crashed occurred, the Humboldt Broncos won the SJHL title, captured the Anavet Cup and played in the junior A national championship tournament at home. Humboldt fell in the Centennial Cup tournament final 5-2 to the Richmond Sockeyes from British Columbia.
The Humboldt Broncos were the defending SJHL champions from the 1985-86 campaign.
After the crash of the Humboldt Broncos bus this season, the Swift Current Broncos moved on to capture their first WHL title in 25 years and earn the right to play for the Memorial Cup in the CHL’s championship tournament in Regina.
Could fate be on the side of the Swift Current Broncos? We might find out when the Memorial Cup championship game rolls around on May 27.
Henry delivers Pats to victory in Memorial Cup opener
|Nick Henry scored the game-winning goal for the Pats.|
Locked in a 2-2 tie with the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, Pats left-winger Nick Henry popped home the rebound of a shot from Czech import defenceman Libor Hajek with 32.6 seconds to play in the third period to deliver the host side to a 3-2 victory before 5,678 spectators at the Brandt Centre, which seats 6,484 spectators.
The Bulldogs held a 1-0 lead after the first period on a goal by star centre Robert Thomas. Pats star captain Sam Steel tied things up at 1-1 just 19 seconds into the second period.
The Bulldogs went ahead 2-1 on a snipe from right-winger Marian Studenic at the 13:14 mark of the second. Pats offensive defenceman Josh Mahura drove home a long range drive at the 15:30 mark of the second to even things up at 2-2.
That set the stage for Henry’s winner at the end of the frame.
Max Paddock, who is a 17-year-old rookie, made 31 stops and many of those were big ones to pick up the win in goal for the Pats. Kaden Fulcher turned away 27 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bulldogs.
The Pats went a span of 45 days without playing a game before Friday’s contest. They last hit the ice on April 2, when they dropped a 3-2 decision in Game 7 of a best-of-seven first round WHL playoff series with the Broncos in Swift Current. The Broncos moved on to win the WHL title.
In the 2016-17 campaign, the Pats made it to the WHL Championship series and fell 4-2 in the best-of-seven set to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Memorial Cup continues on Saturday with the Broncos taking on the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at 2 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.
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