Monday, December 9, 2013

Where life makes sense

The reader board outside the I-Plex
‘Where life makes sense.’ That is the motto on a sign telling travelers entering Swift Current that you have indeed arrived in the Southwest Saskatchewan city. 
With a population of around 16 thousand, it is home to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and Frontier Days, a much smaller version of the Armstrong Fair. 
Swift Current is the home for Kelowna Rockets forward  Colton Heffley, who showed off his athleticism both on the ice and on the baseball diamond while growing up here. The now 19 year-old is just a handful of connections with the smallest centre in the CHL. Assistant Coach Dan Lambert won a Memorial Cup with the Broncos in 1989 and married a Swift Current girl...his wife Melanie. 
I had the privilege of starting my radio career here at CKSW and will never forget the break I received from then general manager Len Enns. I also called five seasons of Broncos action on ‘Eagle 94.1’ from 1995 to 2000 before moving to Kelowna.
Growing up here, everybody pretty much knows everybody. No one is unfamiliar, even if you don’t know their name. As a team from Kelowna, we often stick out like sore thumbs when our big bus rolls into town. Now we know how the Hutterites feel.
The arena the Broncos play in is called the I-Plex, but it will always be known as the Civic Centre to me. In the good old days corporate sponsors weren’t into dishing out big bucks for naming rights. Back then it was all about coming out on a cold winter evening and watching your hometown team play regardless of the weather. You smoked freely in the building and the lobby was often filled with gray-second hand smoke as you side stepped through the crowd to reach the public washrooms. Back then, the men’s washroom consisted of a round, three foot hand washer. It almost looked like a horse feeder. Water would shower down on your hands from the middle when pressure was applied by your foot to a round trigger housed below the basin. As a kid we would jump on the trigger with great joy as the water came firing out. 
When the Broncos first arrived in Swift Current in 1986, pre-recorded music wasn’t piped through the sound system at the Civic Centre. High above a walkway at the east end was a black mustached Keith Myashiro, often seen with a cigarette in his mouth playing an arrangement of songs on an organ. The organ was it. It was a beautiful thing. I miss that old school feel.
It is good to be back, if only for a few days.  

A few minor thoughts:
  • What do the Kelowna Rockets do on an off day on the road? Well, after traveling 11 hundred and 15 kilometers, getting used to the environment that you find yourself in is an adjustment. The weather change is obviously different. It is colder here than in Kelowna and obviously their is more snow, but the real killer is the wind. Even if the temperatures isn't so bad, the wind chill almost paralyzes you. I am sure you get used to it, but even one local today told me as he heading out to start his car, "You never get used to this weather". Hmm...I guess their goes that theory.
  • The time change is a factor that your body needs to adjust too. Waking up at 8 am for breakfast at 9 am Saskatchewan time means all of us, according to our body clocks are waking up at 6 am. If you have a hard time getting out of bed at the best of times, this two hour time difference is a factor you need to consider.  
  • Chapped lips. If you don't have them, you will get them in Saskatchewan. The dry air and the wind makes your lips feel like they will fall off. Trust me, they won't, but you better put on the Chapstick.    
  • The Rockets dropped off their equipment Sunday night at the I-Plex, the site of Tuesday night's game against the Broncos. This morning the team geared up at the I-Plex but headed back on the bus for a practice at another arena as maintenance crews did work on the 'big rink'. That meant every player, goalies included, wore all of their equipment for a quick 15 minute ride to an alternate arena. It looked funny seeing the goalies, in particular ,wearing their pads on the bus and everyone wearing running shoes with their skates and sticks in hand. A few players worn skate guards.
  • The morning workout at Fairview Arena was followed by a great lunch at 'Wong's'. Oh ya, it is Chinese food at its finest, at least the locals think it is. 'Wong's Kitchen' has been around forever. How old is it? I took my wife there on our first date and she married me, so it can't be that bad? Most of the players liked it. The coaches, training staff, bus driver and radio guy gave it a thumbs up.  Plus they gave us all fortune cookies. Mine said the Rockets will win all six games on this trip. Ok, it didn't.  
  • Great hotel here. The Best Western is relatively new. It is clean and the beds are great. While we have to eat off site as a team (not in the hotel which is the norm in the Western Conference), we are only a short walk away from a restaurant that serves - yes they do - real eggs for breakfast. Many restaurants serve what Rockets athletic therapist Scott Hoyer calls 'Astronaut Eggs'. You know them? They are the eggs that are boiled in a bag for large gatherings and just taste weird. They even serve the fake eggs at Denny's now!! What gives?   
  • The hotel that we are staying at has an employee we all like. Ex-Kelowna Rockets captain/assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert's mother works at the front desk.


John Olsen Sr said...


It is a delight to hear your pbp on the road trips. Keep up the good work.

John Olsen Sr said...


It is so great to hear from you on the road trips. It gives insight
to an additional way of life for the Rockets and company.

g.k said...

Thanks for the updates Regan, being from Moose Jaw myself I can relate to everything you describe about the weather, wow I don't know how I ever got thru 35yrs of those winters, but you do get use to it, I know I'm spoiled now when -13 seems frigid!! Looking forward to hearing what you think of the new arena in Moose Jaw. I'll bet it will be quite a change from the Old Crushed Can we use to watch games in. Good luck Rockets, I'm predicting a 6 game sweep!!

jaz301 said...

Was looking at stats today and noticed that rockets top point getter (Tyson Baillie)is ranked 63rd overall with 26 points. This is great too see because the Rockets impressive record is because of a team effort and not just a few players. Its easier to shutdown a few players then it is an entire team.