Longview Bronco raring for Hitmen clash
Hockey: Levi Bews and Swift Current meet Calgary in playoffs
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013 10:48 pm
Some hard-charging Broncos from Saskatchewan are looking to send Calgary’s Western Hockey League outfit running for the hills.
Longview’s Levi Bews and the Swift Current Broncos enter their first berth into the postseason in three years on a considerable high and will need to continue the upward trend in their first-round showdown with the third-seed Calgary Hitmen.
“We’ve been able to win quite a few of the last games here so right now the team is feeling pretty good,” Bews said. “We’re going in on a roll and that’s a big positive for us.”
Swift Current was one of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) hottest properties in the final weeks, posting an 8-2 record and securing the sixth seed in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. The Broncos took three of four meetings with Calgary during the 2012-13 campaign.
“It’s going to be a good matchup for us,” said Bews, an Oilfields High School grad. “We fared pretty well against them in the regular season, but you never know in playoffs and they are a very hard team to play against. They have a lot of depth so we’re just going to have to play a really solid game and make sure we don’t turn any pucks over.”
Calgary features an assortment of offensive riches from the likes of Cody Sylvester, Brooks Macek, Brady Brassart and Victor Rask among the list of talented forwards.
Depth is also a strong suit in Swift Current as eight players tallied double digits in goals and registered 30 or more points. The Broncos are led by captain Adam Lowry who is a Winnipeg Jets prospect and son of longtime Calgary Flame Dave Lowry. He potted 45 goals and 87 points and cuts an imposing figure at six-foot-five and 200 pounds.
Bews, who established career highs with 21 goals and 36 points this season, figures possession play, special teams and discipline will be determining factors against a physical Hitmen defensive unit.
The Hitmen, who feature imposing defencemen in Spencer Humphries, Alex Roach and Jaynen Rissling, were the second most penalized team in the WHL. Calgary will be looking to atone for a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the heavy underdog Brandon Wheat Kings last season.
“We have to play our game, be physical and get pucks deep in their zone,” Bews said. “We have to play behind their goal line and make sure we wear them down. And we have to make sure our powerplay is scoring goals for us and kill our penalties as well.”
With first-round meetings against the top-seed Edmonton Oil Kings and second-seed Saskatoon Blades looking like potential matchups for the Broncos should they get passed Calgary, Bews said he was ecstatic to draw the team located just an hour from his home in Longview.
“It’s really nice to be able to play in front of friends and family and with it being so close to home,” said Bews, who lists the Saddledome as his second favourite WHL venue behind the Broncos’ Credit Union iPlex. “It’s also an NHL-rink, they always have a good atmosphere.”
The series will be the first playoff meeting between the Eastern Conference foes since the Hitmen’s six-game series win in 2008. Swift Current won the meeting prior in the 2002 playoffs.
The 2013 playoffs marks Bews’ return to the postseason dance for the first time since 2011, when the then 16-year-old suited up for seven games as a member of the Blades. Now a WHL veteran, Bews knows what to expect.
“A couple more years of experience in the league that goes a long way,” Bews said. “You have to be ready for anything whether it’s going 60 minutes or four or five overtimes. And you have to have a short memory, if you lose a game you have to get right back at it.”
The first-round series gets underway on March 21, 7 p.m. at the Saddledome. Game 2 is Friday in Calgary with a 7 p.m. puck-drop. The series switches to Saskatchewan for Games 3 and 4 on March 25 and 26.
Bews won’t be the Foothills’ lone representative in the WHL playoffs.
Red Deer Rebels forward Conner Bleackley, from High River, will take part in the Rebels’ first-round clash with the Prince Albert Raiders. In Western Conference action, High River’s Aaron Macklin and the Kamloops Blazers will tango with the Victoria Royals. Full schedules and results for the playoffs can be seen at www.whl.ca.