Thursday, 19 July 2012
Blanke throwing a hard right hand (Photo from scbroncos.com)
Andy Blanke got to live out one of his dreams.
The Swift Current product spent three seasons playing the highest level of junior hockey he could, in front of his hometown fans.
"If you would have told me when I was 16 years old that I would have been able to wear a Bronco jersey and have a three year career, do what I did and accomplish what I did," Blanke said. "I would have thought you were lying. To have gained respect from my teammates and coaches... that's what I played for."
Blanke decided to forego his final season of WHL eligibility to join the University of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey program and start working towards an engineering degree.
"It was definitely a tough, emotional decision," Blanke said. "The whole fighting aspect and everything, I enjoy school, I want to take that next step in my career. This is a step I was was going to make whenever my (WHL) career was done. The chance presented itself... I get myself a year ahead and I was willing to sacrifice that last (junior) year."
Blanke became one of the toughest and most feared fighters in the WHL during his 19-year-old season, but he had no intention of carrying that into a professional career. That doesn't mean he wasn't happy dropping the gloves.
"I loved it," Blanke said. "I enjoyed doing it... (but) I don't have a career in fighting, I'm not big enough and I don't necessarily want to do that the rest of my life. As far as the fighting goes, it's something I love about the game, it happens out there and I play the emotional, hard working game. To say I'm leaving because I don't want to fight anymore is difficult, but I think it's more the fact that I don't want to have a career of it. I don't think that's wise with my smarts."
Blanke wasn't a shoe-in to be a Bronco. He spent his first year of midget hockey playing AA hockey and had to adjust his game to get WHL attention. Blanke then led the Swift Current Midget AAA Home Hardware Legionnaires in scoring with 39 points during his 16-year-old season. That step helped him earn a spot with the Broncos as a 17-year-old rookie.
"I always had a belief I could do it," Blanke said. "I think every athlete does... I definitely put in a lot of work. There was a lot of long hours of training and dedication. It wouldn't have happened without a lot of the help I got from a lot of people. I can't thank all the people that have been part of that enough."
Broncos Coach and GM Mark Lamb said Blanke was a big part in changing the culture for the Broncos. Now the new Husky is hoping that will pay off for his old teammates and the hometown team he will always cheer for.
When the City of Swift Current and South-West Saskatchewan want local news, weather, and sports online and on-demand, they turn to Swift Current Online.
As Swift Current Saskatchewan's website for local job listings, free classifieds, garage sales, family events, business directory and weather cancellations, Swift Current Online is your connection to local information.