Saturday, January 21, 2023

The Next Swift Current Bronco Hall of Fame Inductees Should Be...

It's been awhile since this corner of the World Wide Web has been used for Swift Current Broncos talk. Blogs used to be a great place to talk sports, before the short form world of Twitter took the athletic information community by storm. Sometimes there is subject that requires more than 180 characters to do it justice.

This is one of those subjects. 

From 2014 to 2021, I was a full time employee of the Swift Current Broncos. Pandemics and other factors changed that. I still have an arm's length involvement with the team running game day production, but the days of a full work week at the rink are sadly over. 

And I miss that...but I love the place that fate has placed me and the role I play in our community. I run a small business that pays the bills and allows for the occasional vacation.  

Anyway...from 2014 to 2021, every day at some point I would walk past the Swift Current Broncos Hall of Fame. I would always take a second to ponder who should be inducted next... should the franchise ever reboot that program. 

There are two names that should be immortalized at our rink.  The first...

Mark Lamb. 

In local hockey chatter, "Lamber" is often regarded as an excellent GM, but Bronco diehards are frequently critical of his coaching abilities. 

Fair point. Mark and his staff had some profitable years, were able to attract world class talent to play in Swift Current and he was able to ice a competitive team in the CHL's smallest market. He pulled off a game changing trade for Cody Eakin that delivered assets to the team for the following 12 years! Drew Englot, a 2023 deadline acquisition for the Broncos, will end the fabled Eakin trade tree. The trade spanned the entirety of Eakin's NHL career and provided the Broncos with the late Colby Cave, one of the best captains in franchise history, as well as two members of the 2018 WHL Championship team (Andrew Fyten and Sahvan Khaira).  

However it was Mark's eye on the long term viability of the team that perhaps held him back from success as a coach. Never one to approach the board of directors with an elaborate shopping list of high priced trade deadline ideas, Lamb never went "all in". 

While success as a coach is defined by wins, losses and playoff success, Lamb was a good coach. Swift Current had first round NHL entry draft selections in back to back years with Julius Honka and Jake Debrusk. Mark took a cast off from the Saskatoon Blades in Brett Lernout and, with the help of his staff, moulded him into an NHL third round pick who has skated on NHL ice. Those are just a few of his success stories. 

Over Mark's time in Swift Current, he did a great job of recruiting and building up the team's depth chart. He set the table for the next man who should be Hall of Fame bound...

Manny Viveiros.

Manny was in Swift Current for a good time, not a long time...

And what a good time it was. 

Viveiros arrived in Swift Current after Mark Lamb took a job in the Arizona Coyotes organization. Manny arrived with the table set for success. He had a staff with veteran right hand man Jamie Porter, who has since captured another WHL title and a Stanley Cup ring in Colorado. An associate coach who would become a head coach in the league in Ryan Smyth, and assistant coach Jamie Heward, a veteran of several hundred NHL games, who has since followed Manny to the Vegas Golden Knights organization were also waiting in Swift for Manny. 

Viveiros also arrived with a roster consisting of Glenn Gawdin (another future hall of famer) as well as sniper Tyler Steenbergen, who would suit up for team Canada and bury a World Junior gold medal game winning goal, and Alexsi Heponiemi, one of the finest import players to ever play in the CHL. 

While he had some strong players, he knew the best line in the CHL needed support. 

Regina was the Memorial Cup host in 2018. Viveiros knew the road to a championship would go through the Pats. Regina was making trades of their own to bolster their roster for a good Memorial Cup showing. Swift Current needed to match what was happening two hours east. 

...and they did. 

The 2018 WHL trade deadline was one for the books. In the aftermath, rules were changed regarding who could or couldn't be traded. When the smoke cleared, Swift had parted with, among other things, seven years worth of first round picks and players to acquire Stuart Skinner, Giorgio Estephan, Matteo Gennaro, Beck Malenstyn, Josh Anderson, Tanner Nagel and Andrew Fyten. 

Manny went all in, and it got Swift Current a league championship. Mark Lamb gave him the staff and the assets and Manny delivered. Had the Broncos fizzled out in the first round against the Memorial Cup hosting Pats, so too potentially could have Manny's coaching career in North America.  Manny had skin the game. He was going to do whatever it took to get the job done. Manny Viveiros is a winner in every sense of the word. 

But was it worth it? The years that followed of on ice struggles and low attendance at InnovationPlex. The large financial losses and lack of marketable talent for the team. Did Manny do the right thing by pushing all his chips and the team's future into the middle?

Yes, and you're a fool to think otherwise. 

Let's travel to an alternate timeline. One where the Broncos look at the high prices of acquiring talent in 2018 and decide, 'nope, too rich for our blood'.  Rather than build around Gawdin, Steenbergen and Heponiemi, the Broncos instead sell them off, or hang on to them in hopes of a round 1 upset. 

Say the Broncos sell the farm. They trade their big three. Prior to trade rule changes they likely get some 2001 or 02 players and some late round first round picks from the buyers. Even if they hit on every piece they acquired, those talents likely would have been lost to the pandemic. 

Look at the sellers in 2018:

Saskatoon. They made some big deals to help Regina build to a cup contender. They may finally make a bit of noise in the playoffs this year, but likely won't get passed Winnipeg if they get that far. Runners up in the 2021 Subway Cup in the Regina hub. Out in the first round in five games in round 1 last year vs Moose Jaw. 

Brandon. They sold Cale Clague to Moose Jaw for a respectable haul of draft picks and players. While they can boast a Subway Cup in the East Division hub in pandemic times, last year saw a first round exit to the Red Deer Rebels.

Kootenay ICE. They traded Cale Fleury to Regina for Cole Muir and Jonathan Smart and Vince Losciavo to Moose Jaw for Jakin Smallwood. The franchise relocated to Winnipeg in the aftermath, and two of the acquisitions from this trade helped Winnipeg to a conference final in 2022. 

Lethbridge Hurricanes and Calgary Hitmen: Trade partners with the Broncos in two blockbusters. Since the 2018 deadline both teams have spun their wheels in the middle of the eastern conference with Calgary missing the playoffs last season. 

So had the Broncos sold that season, rather than buy, it is unlikely much would have come from such a sale. Had they hung on to their top players, let's be honest, a first round exit against either Moose Jaw or Regina was likely. 

But back to Manny. What he did that season was something that can't be quantified on spreadsheets or hockey standings. 

That 2018 playoff run was a special time in Swift Current. From the January 10th trade deadline to Glenn Gawdin hoisting the Ed Chynoweth Cup on May 13th, Manny and his staff brought our community together. Just shy of two years later, COVID 19 would rip it apart. The 2017-18 Swift Current Broncos gave Swift Current a six month party before things would change forever. They also padded the Broncos bank account for the tough times that would come in the pandemic. Half full rinks of masked people with a high percentage of the fan based not allowed in the barn was not a recipe for financial success, regardless of how strong the team was.  

Thank you Manny and thank you Lamber for giving us the best of times before the worst of times. 

Also, the current Broncos team is looking strong and is highly entertaining. The mortgage from 2018 is almost paid off. 

And it was a great buy. 

Thursday, October 08, 2020


After a 20 year career in the media, mostly here in Swift Current, I left broadcasting to launch Snowstreaker Media, a home based multimedia production and social media marketing company. We were the first agency in Saskatchewan to specialize in social media.  I am married to Christina and just became an empty nester. My son Ethan helps me out with our home based business and my daughter Eliza is beginning classes at Vancouver Film School. 


I loved raising my family in Swift Current. 


There are challenges ahead of us. We need to find ways to keep our commercial and residential taxes among the lowest in Saskatchewan cities, while making necessary replacements to aging infrastructure and facilities that have served our community well but are at the end of their lifespan. 


Together, we can get from yesterday to tomorrow. 


November 9th, I enthusiastically ask for your support. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Swift Current, SK: Freelance broadcaster and small business owner/operator Ryan Switzer has joined the race for a spot on Swift Current City Council.


“The time is right. I’m in a place where I have plenty of life experience and the energy to work hard for Swift Current” said Switzer.


The 43-year-old father of two feels he has had a great experience raising his children in Swift Current and hopes young families grow to love the community as much as he does. 


“We have great schools, beautiful parks, an abundance of activities for kids and many ways to stay entertained. There have been some exciting events that have come to town. We’ve also grown unique shows like the Great Southwest Shakespeare Festival, and we’ve had some great moments to be fans of our local sports teams. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we can get back to those good times together.”


Switzer acknowledges there are challenges ahead.


“We have some aging buildings that have served the community well for decades. Council needs to look at ways to replace aging facilities that are nearing the end of their lifespan. While keeping taxes low, we need to find ways to build new facilities to keep all of our citizens active. Beyond the things we see and touch, there is aging infrastructure that we generally take for granted that will continue to need to be addressed. Managing community infrastructure is vital to Swift Current’s long term health.”


What will Switzer add to City Council if elected?


“Work ethic, accountability and perseverance. I have one mouth and two ears, and I respect that ratio. I look forward to the challenge of earning a seat on Council and serving this community I love so much.”




For more information, contact Ryan Switzer at 306-741-8284 or email

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The final out and the final call.

Snowstreaker Media, my company, once again follow the Swift Current Indians around the WMBL for the 2016 season. It made for some long days, a busy summer and hundreds of mosquito bites. It was all worth it as Joe Carnahan and his team won the league title after a 33-15 regular season.

Friday, June 24, 2016

You Only Get One Chance to Say Goodbye

Mark Lamb is leaving the Swift Current Broncos for a gig in Arizona. That news was broken by a blogger in Arizona, jumped on by media everywhere and a news conference was called to address the local media in Swift Current. The Board of Directors would make a speech and Mark Lamb would have the chance to comment and say goodbye.

Mark Lamb worked for the Broncos for 7 years. That's around 2500 days. I worked with Mark through the media and then as his communications guy. In those 2500 days, Mark never took a day off. NEVER. He did something for the Bronco franchise every day for 2500 days. One can debate Mark's win/loss record as Bronco Coach and GM, but to say he did the best he could with what he was given is a HUGE understatement. That's another blog entry for another time.

Mark's comments were emotional. He fought back tears, particularly on the subject of the Broncos trainer Jamie 'Butter' LeBlanc. 'Everything's Better with Butter', this news conference no different.

What struck a chord was how Mark chose to end his conference. His final message to fans in Swift. Here is the final segment of Mark's speech.

You only get one chance to say goodbye. After seven years, that is what Mark Lamb chose to say as a parting message. Mark saw the effects of the criticisms of the Internet GMs and coaches of the world. It's too bad the keyboard know-alls of the world never really see the damage they do.

Full Disclosure: I am no longer the communications guy for the Broncos, but still working with the team on a seasonal basis with video production, website and app content creation...which I am very happy with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Best of the WMBL

This year I was fortunate enough to cover the entire Swift Current Indians season. It was a journey that spanned from the top of Telus Field in Edmonton to the rustic score keeper boxes of Pirie Field in Melville. It was a privilege to see every team, every ballpark, every promotion and every bit of the game day experiences from around the WMBL.

If you want to know who the best players in the WMBL were this year, click here. This is a 'best of' list of the things that surround the great game. Myself and my wife and camera person Christina pondered and debated this list at great length. I would advise any baseball fan to do a WMBL tour and hit each of the ten venues within the league to see what makes the WMBL truly special.

1. Best Stadium: Seaman Stadium, home of the Okotoks Dawgs.

This is a two horse race. On one hand, there is the gigantic Telus Field in Edmonton. Built in the 1990's to host professional AAA baseball in the Alberta capital, Telus Field is the second largest baseball stadium in Canada.  Telus sports a seating capacity of 10,000. A home plate lounge, luxury suites, scenic views of Edmonton and a dynamite concession (more on that later) give fans an experience similar to attending a minor pro game.

(the view of Swift Current Indians batting practice from the home plate lounge in Edmonton)

However, the size of Telus field works against it. The Edmonton Prospects draw crowds close to 1,000. That would be huge in most WMBL markets, but makes Telus Field appear mostly empty. While the Prospects drew 7,000+ for Canada Day, the mastadonic stadium remains less than 1/5 full for most of the season.

Seaman Stadium in Okotoks is a ball park designed to be the crown jewel of the WMBL. A venue that comfortably holds 3,000 people, the Okotoks Dawgs draw from the community of Okotoks and the massive metropolis of Calgary which is just minutes to the north.  Crowds in the thousands are routine in Okotoks. A great sound system, beautiful ballpark, numerous concession items, bar stools and counter high tables around the seating area give the Dawgs the title for best ball park. If you're a sports fan and able to get to Okotoks during the WMBL season, you owe it to yourself to go there.

2. Best Fans: Lethbridge Bulls

Spitz Stadium in Lethbridge is a tough park to win in. The Bulls are always competitive on the field, and in the stands Lethbridge has a smattering of world class hecklers. The fans in Lethbridge have got in the heads of opposition players and have factored into the outcome of games. Coaches from around the league are reading this piece and yelling 'don't encourage them!' at the screen.

The Edmonton Prospects are gaining ground on the Bulls in this category and may take the belt next year. The Regina Red Sox faithful can get in the minds of visiting teams too, but the best 10th man in 2015 goes to Lethbridge.

Honourable mention to the supporters of the Melville Millionaires. The Mils play in a market of 3500 people and need community support to stay alive. The town supports their Mils and easily draws the most fans per capita in the league. Melville and Yorkton would share the award for 'nicest fans' as well...even though they aren't nice to each other.

3. Best Concession Item: The Prospect Dog in Edmonton.

Take a large hot dog, cover it in melted cheese add chili and onions and serve with cactus cut potatoes. Voila, you have the primo concession item in the WMBL.  The bacon & ranch dog in Regina (hot dog with bacon and ranch) and boom stick (foot long hotdog) in Lethbridge are the close runner ups. The pulled pork in Medicine Hat is also dynamite.

4. Best Field: Mitchell Field in Swift Current

Unsightly weeds, dead grass and an unkempt infield can make life tough on players and make fans feel like they are watching a beer league game. Mitchell Field in Swift Current continues to provide WMBL players with the best playing surface in the league, which is also the nicest for fans to look at.  Mitchell Field also has the brightest lights which illuminate the surface perfectly for night games. Outfielders can get a tan from the lights on 19th avenue in Swift Current.

It is worth noting since Seaman Stadium in Okotoks stopped hosting as many minor ball games due to construction of adjacent fields, their field has improved incredibly and with more senior teams getting time on Mitchell Field, Okotoks may dethrone Swift next year.

5. Best Promotion: Day Off Pub Slingshot Contest in Medicine Hat

Players for the Mavericks get involved in this contest. A sling shot is used to fire tennis balls a hundred feet in the air. Contestants wear hip waders and try to catch the balls with a fishing net. It is visually impressive and always entertaining. No other promotion in the league touches it for entertainment value. Zip ahead to 1:35 in the video below to see this promotion in action.

The Dizzy Bats in Swift Current get the runner up prize. Contestants spin themselves dizzy on bats and have a foot race. Hilarity ensues.

6. Best PA Announcer/Music: Medicine Hat

The right music/sounds at the right time over the PA system can dramatically increase the emotional investment in the game for a fan.  No one in the WMBL understands this more than Kim Johnston in Medicine Hat. When there's two strikes against a visiting hitter, the suspense is upped with the right sound effects. When the crowd is rocking after a home run, a good pumpin' tune always accompanies.  A controversial call from the umpire? The Hat is always ready with the right selection to bring emotion out of the crowd. The 20+ year radio vet is also the most pleasant announcer in the league to listen to. Honourable mention to the PA/Music crew in Moose Jaw who have two solid announcers in James Gallo and Chris Rasmussen and always play great tunes at Ross Wells Park.

7. Best Game Day Experience: Okotoks

The game day experience begins the moment you exit your car at the ball park and ends the moment you drive away. The Okotoks Dawgs lead the league in this category. You exit your car in a well laid out parking lot with no spots too far from the field. You enter a stadium that is only 8 years old, yet you feel like you are walking into a park with 100 years of winning tradition. The concourse is nicely laid out for fans to access souvenirs, concession, each team's lineups,washrooms and a wide assortment of beverages. Whether you enjoy the game from a regular stadium seat, a bar stool or the grassy knoll area down the 3rd base line, the views are great. There are elderly men dancing to YMCA, mascots firing up the crowd and kids can run the bases after the game.

Okotoks gets the crown for the best bang for entertainment dollars. The Dawgs can't get complacent though as Lethbridge, Edmonton and Medicine Hat are getting better each year and starting to nip at their heels.

8. Best Value Added Extra: Edmonton Prospects Cheerleaders

Watch the video below at the 58:50 mark to see Edmonton's cheerleaders.

Besides watching a ball game, what extras do the teams offer? An in-stand person with a cordless microphone? Between inning activities? The best value added extra in the league are the Edmonton Prospects Cheerleaders. A cheer team that could rival what some CFL teams bring in terms of cheerleaders and their uniforms; the crew in Edmonton add a well presented element in the WMBL.

Runner up: The Dance Team in Medicine Hat, The YMCA Dancer in Okotoks (an elderly gentleman wearing shorts and suspenders who leads the crowd in the YMCA) and Spencer in Okotoks (pictured below)

9. Nicest Game Day Staff: Tie Yorkton, Regina & Lethbridge

While the casual baseball fan doesn't give a rip how nice the people presenting the game are, it was big for Christina and I. No one was downright rude, but a visiting play by play guy isn't the norm in the WMBL. Some are more welcoming than others. It isn't always easy to jam a camera person and a play by play guy into an already crowded scorekeepers box. As is evidenced by the three way tie, it wasn't easy to narrow this choice to one and quite frankly any team on any day could win this one. Thank you Yorkton, Regina and Lethbridge for making us feel at home.

We look forward to being back in all the parks next year. If you have traveled around the leage and disagree with our assessment, please leave a comment!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Interview with Dressler

Weston Dressler was in Swift Current to speak at a Kidspot Charity Breakfast. We caught up with the most dynamic player in the CFL and threw some questions at him.