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Broncos conclude challenging season

It's been a challenging year for the Broncos, both on and off the ice. The Humboldt Broncos junior A hockey club officially wrapped up their 2010-11 season with their annual general meeting on July 20.
Members of the 2011-12 Humboldt Broncos board of directors includes (back row, from left): Lambert Stumborg, Clayton Armstrong, Chad Ellison, Bob Johnston. Front row: Marie Durand, Darryl Ness and Laurie Brad-Richards. Missing from photo: Lance Unger, Russell Gehlen, Wes Wendt.

It's been a challenging year for the Broncos, both on and off the ice.
The Humboldt Broncos junior A hockey club officially wrapped up their 2010-11 season with their annual general meeting on July 20. But while most are aware of how the season ended on the ice - in the first round of playoffs - all the details of just how the season went off the ice are not yet in.
"Financially, we lost money," stated board president Bob Johnston.
However, just how much money was lost has not yet been determined, as their year-end financial statements are not yet complete.
The accountants are working on them, he promised, and they hope to have those statements done by the end of August.
The delay, Johnston told the Journal, is due to the staff turnover experienced by the organization in the past year. The office manager position has been filled by three different individuals since this time last year.
"We wanted to have (the statements) ready and could have presented a draft," he said. "But we'd rather present accurate information."
They decided not to wait for the financial statements to be done to hold their annual meeting as they are not sure when the statements will be ready.
"We wanted to get the AGM out of the way, so if there are new board members, they have a month to get acclimated.... Waiting on the statements, (we could have had) the AGM after the season started, so we decided to go without."
There was a general report, however, of how things went on the financial end this season.
Their major annual fundraiser, the Humboldt Broncos Lottery of Cash, which is held every spring, went well this year, thanks in large part to the addition of a 50-50 draw, Johnston noted.
But other fundraisers did not go so well.
"We tried a few different events, with mixed results," Johnston stated.
The Broncos hosted a game against the Under 17 Swedish national team on January 1. With a crowd of about 750 fans, they pretty much broke even on the event.
"It was a good experience overall, but a lot of work for very little revenue," Johnston said.
The Broncos also hosted the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Hall of Fame induction banquet in November of last year. They were able to honour some of their alumni, and while they wished the attendance would have been better, they made a little bit of profit off the weekend event.
A comedy night hosted this spring was a very profitable event for the team, Johnston reported, though the turnout was again "not great." However it is something the organization may look at doing again in the future.
Brainstorming for new events and fundraisers for the coming season is already underway, he noted. Details will be announced later.
On the ice, 2010-11 was a tale of two different teams, Johnston said - one before the trade deadline, and one after, when most of the 20-year-olds were gone, traded for future considerations.
"But both were very entertaining (teams)," Johnston said.
"We certainly felt we took some steps on the ice last season (by moving the 20-year-olds) to building a team for next year," said Broncos head coach and general manager Dean Brockman.
All the futures provided to the Broncos by those trades are nearly complete, he added, and he hopes all will be done by the time training camp rolls around on September 2.
He's looking forward, he said, to seeing the pieces of this team come together this season.
The Broncos are now preparing for a very memorable upcoming season, as they play host to the RBC Cup, Canada's junior A national championship tournament, next May.
On the ice, Brockman will be focused on building a championship team that will hopefully win its way to a national championship.
A season like the one coming up, where the Broncos are guaranteed to compete in the national championship by virtue of being the home team, didn'tcome with a manual, Brockman noted.
"I wish it would've," he said, but he is confident about their chances.
"We promise to work hard and make sure we represent the Humboldt Broncos for the whole year very well on the national stage."
They have had a very busy offseason so far, Brockman added, and he believes it will pay off.
"Let's make this season one to remember forever," he noted.
Off the ice, the organization is working with the City of Humboldt on renovations to the facility. Changes to the lobby and the upper level of the rink are supposed to be complete by August 22. Other changes in the rink, including enlarging some locker rooms and adding a new media gondola, will likely be done by January, Johnston reported.
They are also in the process of implementing electronic ticketing, which will allow fans to purchase tickets online.
"It's a requirement for the RBC Cup," Johnston explained, "so we decided to implement it for the regular season and work the bugs out."
This ticket system is one Hockey Canada has developed with a company in the United States, and it should be completely installed in Humboldt by the time the new season rolls around.
The Broncos are also currently in negotiations on an electronic 50-50 system which would be the same as the one used at the World Juniors tournament in Saskatoon two years ago.
The Broncos are working with the City of Humboldt on a way to display the jackpot total in the rink.
The new system will cost the Broncos $25,000, but on the flip side, they are hosting a national tournament this year, and this system will make the record keeping a lot easier.
"It's going to be easier on the volunteers (selling the tickets), and generate bigger jackpots," Johnston said.
Both of these systems will be owned by the Humboldt Broncos, and they will be able to lease them to other user groups for their events.
The Broncos will play 58 regular season games, the same as last season, including two at the SJHL Showcase, hosted in Estevan this year.
The homeopener will be held September 17, and will include a special celebration for which the team is working with the RBC Cup committee.
"We really want to fill the rink that night," Johnston said. Hockey Canada will be in town to officially launch the RBC Cup season, "and we really want a strong showing of support ... We're working hard this season to make it one to remember."
It will be a one-of-a-kind season, he added, as Humboldt may never again have an opportunity to host the RBC Cup.
There will be changes to be seen on the ice this season, Brockman noted, though the coaching and scouting staff for the team will remain in place, with trainer Brett McCorkell and assistant coaches Murray Brookbank and Tim Klimosko returning.
Brockman believes Hockey Canada will be putting a greater emphasis on preventing checking to the head.
"There will be zero tolerance (for that)," Brockman said. "That's a good thing. At least it's cut and dried - there's no grey area."
Broncos season ticket prices have gone up, as have the price of game tickets.
For example, adult season tickets are now $299 - up $20 - and gate tickets for adults are $14.
They did some research into what other SJHL teams charge, Johnston said.
"We're right in the middle. We feel (this is) where we need to be for the regular season to pay for itself," he said.
The rise in prices basically covers the increased costs of installing the new ticketing systems, Johnston noted. About $12 of the $20 increase for season tickets is directly related to those systems.
The organization has set themselves a lofty goal of getting 750 season tickets sold this season - they have averaged between 550 and 600 for the last few years.
"We're asking for the community to step up and support the team this season," Johnston said. As fundraising covers over half the cost of operating the team in the regular season, "we do work hard to keep the cost of that season ticket down as much as we can," he noted.
The same 10 directors remain on the Bronco board for this season: president Bob Johnston, vice-president Chad Ellison, treasurer Lance Unger, secretary Laurie Brad-Richards, Lambert Stumborg, Marie Durand, Russell Gehlen, Darryl Ness, Clayton Armstrong and Wes Wendt.
The team is always looking for more volunteers and more billets, it was noted.
The team has increased their offering to billet families by including a youth or student ticket into their perks package, along with an adult ticket.
"It will help them get out to more games this year," Johnston feels.
Those interested can contact the Bronco office.