|Dean Brockman holds court in a media scrum in the 2016-17 season.|
On Wednesday, Brockman was introduced as the new head coach and director of hockey operations for the Swift Current Broncos at a press conference in Swift Current. Brockman fills the void that was created when Manny Viveiros stepped down as the Broncos head coach and director of player personnel on May 24 to become an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
Brockman spent the previous four seasons working for the Saskatoon Blades. He was an assistant coach with the Blades in his first two campaigns with the club and spent the past two seasons working for the Blades as head coach. Brockman was released by the Blades on March 18.
During Brockman’s run as head coach, the Blades posted a 63-68-10-3 record. He is credited with 62 of those victories having missed one of those wins to attend a funeral. The Blades posted a 35-33-3-1 mark this past season to finish three points behind the Raiders (32-27-9-4) for the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
Saskatoon last made the WHL playoffs back in 2013.
Before joining the Blades, Brockman, who will soon turn 51-years-old, was best known for his 17 years in the junior A ranks working with the Humboldt Broncos from 1997 to 2014 in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He started as an assistant coach and assistant general manager before becoming the head coach and general manager in 2004. During Brockman’s years in Humboldt, the SJHL Broncos won the Royal Bank Cup for junior A supremacy in 2003 and 2008.
Brockman comes on board with a Broncos WHL franchise that hit heights the club hadn’t seen in some time with Viveiros as head coach. Viveiros, a 52-year-old St. Albert, Alta., product, was in Swift Current for two seasons.
In the 2016-17 campaign, Viveiros led the Broncos to a 10th overall finish in the WHL’s regular season standings with a 39-23-4-6 record. The Broncos advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs falling in a tough seven-game series to the Regina Pats, who would advance to the WHL Championship series.
|Dean Brockman, centre, mans the Blades bench last season.|
At the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina, Sask., in May, the Broncos went 0-3 in round robin play falling by a one-goal margin each time out.
When Brockman steps behind the bench for the first regular season as Broncos head coach, they will have a much different look than the squad that won the WHL title in May. The Broncos begin the regular season on Sept. 21, when they host the Blades at 7 p.m. at the Credit Union i-Plex.
Swift Current graduated three key overagers from last season in captain Glenn Gawdin, Giorgio Estephan and Matteo Gennaro. Last season, the Broncos finished carrying 11 players on their roster who were in their 19-year-old seasons and only three can return as overagers.
Candidates who appear to be already out for consideration include star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes, defenceman Colby Sissons, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils and netminder Stuart Skinner, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
Finnish left-winger Aleksi Heponiemi won’t be back for his 19-year-old season, because he signed a two-year professional contract with Karpat Oulu in Finland near the end of May.
Gawdin, Steenbergen and Heponiemi combined to form a dynamic top line for the Broncos over the past two seasons. Sissons brought a steady presence to the Broncos back end for the past three seasons.
Brockman will be overseeing the Broncos through a reloading period.
The Broncos also need to replace director of hockey operations and head scout Jamie Porter, who officially resigned from the team on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the Broncos took their first steps in their reload under Brockman selecting two players in the CHL Import Draft. The Broncos selected Finnish forward Joona Kiviniemi, who turns 17-years-old in December, in the first round and 59th overall. Swift Current proceeded to pick up 17-year-old Finnish defenceman Roope Pynnonen in the second round and 119th overall.
|Dean Brockman runs a Blades practice last season.|
He is a player’s coach and is very community minded. Brockman also goes to a community in Swift Current that is similar in a lot of ways to Humboldt. Both are tight-knit farming communities, where the main difference is Swift Current has a larger population than Humboldt.
Swift Current is also the second smallest market in the CHL with the defending Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League coming from the CHL’s smallest centre in Bathurst, New Brunswick.
With his outgoing, personable and honest personality, Brockman is going to be an easy quick fit in Swift Current. Brockman is a person that is made to coach an entrenched community-owned franchise like the WHL’s Broncos.
Blades back to full stable with imports
In the first round and 23rd overall, the Blades selected defenceman Emil Malysjev, who has dual citizenship in both Sweden and Russia. Malysjev, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 187 pounds, played in Sweden’s top junior league last season with HV71, where he had four assists in 29 games.
In the second round and 83rd overall, the Blades selected forward Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen of Norway. Roykas-Marthinsen, who turns 19 in late August and stands 6-feet and weighs 186 pounds, was selected in the seventh round and 213th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
He played in Sweden’s top junior league last season recording 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games with Almtuna IS.
Before selecting Malysjev and Roykas-Marthinsen, the Blades didn’t have any import players on their roster due to the fact Russian defenceman Mark Rubinchik, who was eligible to return as a 19-year-old, signed a two-year, two-way contract to play for Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League back in May.
Malysjev and Roykas-Marthinsen are expected to attend Blades training camp, which will open near the end of August.
Raiders pick Protas in Import Draft
In the first round and 26th overall, the Raiders selected 17-year-old forward Aliaksei Protas from Belarus. Protas, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 179 pounds, played for the Belarus U17 Team in Vysshaya Liga, which is the development league for the Belarusian Extraleague. He recorded nine goals and 11 assists in 49 games.
The Raiders have the potential to return both of their overage players from last season. Czech defenceman Vojtech Budik is entering his overage season and odds are high he will elect not to return to Prince Albert in order to pursue professional options.
Defenceman Sergei Sapego, who is from Belarus and will enter his 19-year-old season, is expected to be back in the fold next season for the Raiders.
GoFundMe campaign for Vandervlis exceeds $67,000
|Ryan Vandervlis drive up ice for the Hurricanes in April of 2017.|
On June 15, Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive, Vandervlis and former team member Matt Alfaro, who currently plays for the University of Calgary Dinos, were all involved in a mishap at the family home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong just west of Calgary. Wong was hosting nine of his friends at the family residence, and they were planning to go golfing and camping the next day.
There was an explosion from the campfire that was started that night at the Wong residence. Bellerive, 19, and Alfaro, 21, sustained burns to their upper bodies and Vandervlis, 20, sustained burns to the front of his body and was placed in a medically induced coma. Vandervlis was taken off dialysis on June 18.
Vandervlis sustained critical injuries. The Red Deer, Alta., product is facing months of recovery and multiple surgeries. On Tuesday, Vandervlis emerged from his coma but remains in hospital in Calgary.
Alfaro was released from hospital on June 21. Bellerive was released from hospital on Tuesday.
While Alfaro and Bellerive won’t have a problem returning for the upcoming hockey campaign, hockey is likely the furthest thing from the mind of Vandervlis, who is slated to enter his overage season with the Hurricanes.
The fundraising efforts will help him and his family get past this rough stretch.
Anyone looking to donate to the GoFundMe campaign for Vandervlis can do so by clicking right here.
Stars and Contacts to move to Merlis Belsher Place
The Stars, who are the defending champions of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, and the Contacts, who have long been an elite club in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, will play out of Merlis Belsher Place, which is being built on the campus on the University of Saskatchewan. The new multisport facility, which will have two pads of ice, is expected to be open in October.
The Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association announced the switch of venues for the two teams on Wednesday. Merlis Belsher Place will be the new home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams.
The Stars had been playing out of the Agriplace Arena. Last season, the Stars finished first in the SFMAAAHL with a 24-3-1 record, won the SFMAAAHL title for the third time in the last four years and advanced to the Esso Cup national championship tournament for the third time in the last four years.
Saskatoon made the championship game of the Esso Cup held in Bridgewater, N.S., in April. The Stars fell 2-1 to the St. Albert Slash from Alberta, who won the Esso Cup for a second straight year.
During their history, the Stars have won the female title at the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament twice.
“Moving to a new state-of-the-art facility will help raise the profile of our program in the community and provide a sports and scholastic focused environment where our athletes will be exposed to ever expanding opportunities for both personal and team growth for years to come,” said Stars president Don Karnes in a statement.
The Contacts have won the SMAAAHL title on six occasions, the male title at the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament twice, the bronze medal at the Telus Cup national championship tournament twice and Telus Cup national title in 2005.
“The Saskatoon Contacts leave behind a rich history and tradition at Schroh Arena,” said Contacts president Jim McIntyre in a release. “We look forward to this great opportunity and the start of a new tradition at Merlis Belsher Place.”
Approximately 1,500 hours of ice time will be dedicated annually for use by SMHA teams at Merlis Belsher Place, and the Stars and Contacts are expected to use less than 15 per cent of that allotted total. The SMHA will gain access to ice times vacated by the Stars and Contacts at their former home rinks.
The Saskatoon Blazers midget AAA club will continue to play out of the Rod Hamm Arena. Last season, the Blazers finished eighth in the SMAAAHL and were swept 3-0 in a best-of-five first round playoff series by the Notre Dame Hounds, who moved on to capture the SMAAAHL title and the Telus Cup as national champs.
CBC story shows bonds of the Humboldt Broncos girlfriends
Back on April 6, the bus carrying the Broncos team was involved in a collision with a semitrailer about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale. The Broncos were on their way to Nipawin for an SJHL playoff game against the Hawks.
The crash resulted in the deaths of 16 players and team officials and injuries to 13 other players from the team.
The girlfriends of the Broncos players gather together in Saskatoon from June 22 to 24 and made a trip out to Humboldt during that time. CBC followed their story and it was sweet and heartbreaking.
The CBC feature of this remarkable group of young women can be found here.
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