Denver is at the center of the Tim Tebow national phenomenon – known as ‘Tebowmania’ – that kicked into overdrive Sunday night after the Broncos quarterback threw a game-winning, overtime touchdown to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League playoffs.
Tebow’s comeback victories along with his religious beliefs vaulted him into star status in the second half of the NFL season. His play defied insiders like Broncos executive John Elway, who questioned his skills and ability to be a winning quarterback.
Bemidji State sophomore hockey player Kyle Brodie grew up a Broncos fan in the Denver suburb of Northglenn. When asked if he saw similarities between Tebow and the Beavers, he smiled and agreed.
“Tebow is usually a fourth-quarter quarterback and he’s built his reputation on that,” Brodie said. “Here in the middle of the season, he’s kind of like us. We’re underdogs too and we find a way to come out on top just like the Broncos do.”
The Denver Post delivered another shot into Bemidji State’s underdog perception when the Beavers (11-9-2) were described as ‘relatively weak’ in an article last week.
Bemidji State has lost once in the last seven games and are riding a five-game winning streak into this weekend’s series at Denver.
A split series against Denver last month started the winning streak and the rematch opens the second half of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association season.
The games Friday and Saturday night at Magness Arena are less than 10 miles south of the Broncos’ home at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“We just want a really good start to the second half,” Brodie said. “Denver’s always a tough place to go to. The elevation is a little change for the guys, so you have to stay hydrated and change your game plan a little bit before going out there. We obviously want to win, get as many points as we can and start the second half of the season off right.”
Brodie, a defenseman, has been a role player in his first two seasons with the Beavers. He played in six games as a freshman and his first career goal last year was a game-winner against Alabama-Huntsville. He has played in five games this season and skated in three of the victories during BSU’s winning streak.
Brodie along with Littleton’s Todd Donaldson (1983-87) and Ric Fahlstedt (1975-76) are the only Colorado natives to ever play men’s hockey at BSU.
Hockey in Colorado is generally in a popularity pecking order behind the Broncos, skiing and other outdoor endurance sports.
“I always had to choose one over the other, and hockey just seemed more fun to hit people than roll down a hill,” Brodie said. “I’d say growing up the (Colorado) Avalanche had huge influence.”
So were the powerful Denver Pioneer teams of the mid-2000s. He recalled attending a game at Magness Arena when he was 14 years old and watching Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle, who now plays with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I just said that’s the player I want to be like and the situation I want to be in someday,” Brodie said.
Brodie left his home in Colorado to follow his dream and played two years of junior hockey in Washington for Wenatchee of the North American Hockey League before coming to BSU.
When the Beavers skate against the Pioneers Saturday night, the Broncos will be playing in New England and Tebowmania will be in the thin Mile-High air.
“When they drafted him in the first round, I didn’t think that was wise for the Broncos but he’s shaped into a pretty good quarterback,” Brodie said. “His patented kneel-down thing is starting to get publicity in every sport everywhere. It’s great what he brings to both football and Denver.”
Brodie knows the Broncos will be an underdog against the Patriots, though counting Tebow out wasn’t something he was prepared to do.
“I don’t know if I can,” he said. “I think I’ll just sit this one out.”