Sunday, 21 September 2014

Wheat Kings Complete Season-Opening Sweep

Jesse Gabrielle notched his first career hat-trick Saturday

   Jesse Gabrielle’s first career hat-trick led the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-1 victory over the Regina Pats on Saturday night.

  The victory allowed Brandon to complete a sweep of their season-opening home-and-home series with their East Division rivals, and extended their personal winning streak against the Pats to eight straight games.

  Tim McGauley gave the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal, the only marker in an opening 20 minutes that saw Brandon outshoot Regina 13-4.

  The score stayed 1-0 until late in the second period, with Gabrielle notching his first two goals of the season in the final 3 ½ minutes to extend the Wheat Kings’ lead to 3-0 after 40 minutes.

  “Nice plays by his linemates.  Peter (Quenneville) put him right in on the first one and then the second one, he was real aggressive right off the faceoff to get himself to the front of the net and found a loose puck,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “He didn’t just whack away at it, he took that extra step to get past the goaltender and demonstrated some skill to finish off the play.”

  Gabrielle then completed the natural hat-trick with a power-play goal 1:15 into the third period, the first of three goals the Wheat Kings would score with the man advantage in a penalty-filled final frame.

  Import defenceman Ivan Provorov and Brandonite Duncan Campbell also scored power-play goals in the third period, the first for each in the Western Hockey League careers.

  The only question as the third period went only was whether or not Jordan Papirny would get the shutout, with his bid being broken with 12.5 seconds left on a Dryden Hunt power-play goal.
The 'Wheat City Line' of Tanner Kaspick, Duncan Campbell
and Brett Kitt on Saturday

  “Guys felt awful.  Sometimes, as a coach, when that happens, it’s a product of guys not being honest or playing for your goaltender or getting a little bit greedy or selfish offensively but that wasn’t the case at all,” said McCrimmon, “Our guys were talking about it the entire third period but it’s just one of those things.  We sure wish it was 6-0, it feels better, it sounds better, and everyone obviously contributes when you have a shutout. But Jordan was real good about it, happy to get two wins to start the season and that’s the bottom line.”

  Papirny finished with 23 saves while Daniel Wapple made 29 saves in goal for Regina.

  The Wheat Kings are now idle until Friday night, when they host the Saskatoon Blades (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff...Brandon’s scratches were John Quenneville (New Jersey), Jayce Hawryluk (Florida), Richard Nejezchleb (NY Rangers), Ty Lewis (upper body), Eric Roy (upper body), Mark Taraschuk, Mark Matsuba, Michael Mylchreest and Kirklan Lycar (all healthy)...Tim McGauley has playing in his 150th career game as a Wheat King on Saturday...the Wheat Kings have swept a season-opening home-and-home series each of the last four times the two teams have played to open the WHL regular season (2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014).

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Wheat Kings Open with Win

  The Brandon Wheat Kings opened their 2014-2015 regular season with a 4-2 victory over the Regina Pats on Friday night.

  Tyler Coulter scored the go-ahead goal 6:36 into the third period, snapping a 2-2 just two minutes and 21 seconds after the Pats had tied the game on a shorthanded goal from Jared McAmmond.

  It was the second time in the contest the Wheat Kings had scored shortly after a Regina goal, with Ryan Pilon turning the trick just 36 seconds after Braden Christoffer had given the Pats a 1-0 lead early in the first period.

  "Bump-up shifts are what we call those opportunities after things have happened in a game, and I thought we did a pretty good job in those situations," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ's post-game show, "When it happened in the third period, it was late enough in the game that it was a real big goal and stood up as the winner."

  Taylor Green scored in the second period to give Brandon a 2-1 lead, his first goal as a Wheat King after going goalless in 65 games last season.

  Braylon Shmyr closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 49 seconds left in the third period.

  Jordan Papirny made 23 saves in the Wheat Kings' net while also registering an assist in the contest, the first career WHL point for the second-year netminder.

  "I was kind of joking about that after the game with some of the guys but I didn't even know," said Papirny, "I was standing in the net and the play was going on and I heard assist Jordan Papirny, and I'm like oh, I guess I touched it somewhere along the line."

  Papirny also gave credit to his defenceman for blocking a number of shots, and letting him see the pucks that did get through.

  "The guys did great in front of me tonight," added Papirny on CKLQ's post-game show, "Whenever there's a blocked shot or a big play by a defenceman, I'm always letting them know good job and things like that.  I think communication with a goaltender for a defenceman is key."

  The Wheat Kings will visit the Pats on Saturday night to conclude the season-opening home-and-home series (8:00 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

Chaff...Duncan Campbell had a pair of assists for his first career WHL points...defencemen Mark Taraschuk and Ivan Provorov both made their WHL debuts for Brandon Friday...Brandon scratches were John Quenneville (New Jersey), Jayce Hawryluk (Florida), Richard Nejezchleb (NY Rangers), Eric Roy (upper body), Ty Lewis (upper body), Tanner Kaspick (lower body), Michael Mylchreest, Mark Matsuba and Kirklan Lycar...attendance was 4,509.

  Here's some pics from the home opener...

Jordan Papirny tries to look through traffic during the second period

Mark Taraschuk was one of two Brandon players to make their WHL
debuts on Friday night.

Ryan Pilon scored the Wheat Kings' first goal of the 2014-2015 season.

Taylor Green, the WHL's tallest player, scored his first goal
as a Wheat Kings on Friday night.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Papirny Has Lofty Goals

Jordan Papirny
  High expectations are hard to manage at times, but Brandon Wheat Kings' goaltender Jordan Papirny appears to be welcoming them.

  The 18-year old netminder returned to practice Wednesday after attending the Montreal Canadiens' rookie camp and is expected to start in the Wheat Kings' home opener Friday night against the Regina Pats.

  Prognosticators are assessing the Wheat Kings are being one of the favourites in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference, and Papirny feels they don't need to shy away from those expectations.

  "It would be stupid of us not to have the bar set high.  We've got a really good group and I'm really excited," said Papirny after Thursday's practice, "Just having a really tight group of guys makes it that much better...everyone gets along and it's great."

  Papirny had a solid rookie season with Brandon in 2013-2014, going 22-15-7 with a 3.28 goals against average and .900 save percentage.

  The 22nd overall pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft feels he can improve on those numbers, and he's determined to turn himself into one of the elite netminders in the WHL.

  "You know, it's the time and goal of being an elite goaltender in the league, working hard every day, working on those little things," said Papirny, who watched Curtis Honey start last year's home opener, "I think it's a good opportunity for me, especially with having a very good squad here.  I think one thing that's going to benefit me is having that confidence every night that I'm the guy."

  Papirny will be supported by 17-year old rookie Logan Thompson, a sixth round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft.

  There's no doubt that the Edmonton product will be Brandon's #1 guy between the pipes, but Papirny feels it's important to be pushed and push himself every day.

  "At the end of the day, the mission never changes.  I'm still battling every night to get that start.  I don't want to start assuming things, I just want to go out and work hard every day and keep battling," said Papirny, "That's Logan's job is to push me, and I'm going to push him as well.  That's how a goalie tandem should work, and I want to play as many games as I can."

Young Guns Set to Start Rookie Seasons

16-yaer olds Nolan Patrick (left) and Kale Clague
open their rookie WHL seasons on Friday.
  The Wheat Kings' 'young guns' will open their rookie seasons in the Western Hockey League Friday night when Brandon plays host to the Regina Pats to begin the regular season (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Nolan Patrick and Kale Clague have been highly touted prospects since being chosen fourth and sixth overall in the 2013 Bantam Draft.

  Both players might be helped by being on a fairly deep Wheat Kings' team that returns 18 players from last year's squad including, potentially, 12 forwards.

  "I want to be an impact guy but as a 16-year old, it's tough to do," said Patrick after Thursday's practice, "I'm just going to play my game and, hopefully, things go well."

  "If I stick to the way I can play I think I can live up to it, but I'm not really worried about that," added Clague, "I'm just worried about playing my game and hopefully all will go well."

  Both players got their feet wet in the WHL a year ago, with Clague dressing for the first two games of the regular season and three playoff games last spring while Patrick played three regular season and all nine post-season games with Brandon last year.

  Patrick led the Wheat Kings in pre-season scoring with two goals and seven points in four games while Clague had a pair of power-play goals, three points and a +1 rating in the pre-season.

  "I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with my surroundings now, after those four pre-season games, and I'm really excited to get things going especially with it being my first full season in the WHL," said Clague, "I'm excited to get things rolling with the great group of guys they have here."

  The Wheat Kings do have forwards John Quenneville (New Jersey), Jayce Hawryluk (Florida) and Richard Nejezchleb (NY Rangers) away at NHL camps to begin the season so Patrick will likely see more icetime Friday night that he may see on other nights during the regular season while Clague was paired with three-year veteran Colton Waltz this week.

  2013 second round pick Tanner Kaspick and third round selection Ty Lewis are also with the team to start the season, although Lewis is sidelined until at least mid-October after breaking his arm during training camp.

  It's the first time in 15 years that Brandon had at least four 16-year olds on their roster to start the season.

  Jordin Tootoo, Mark Ardelan, Travis Young and Brett Dickie all broke camp with the Wheat Kings to start the 1999-2000 season.

Digest These Rule Changes for 2014-15

  There's more more 'new' things for Wheat Kings' fans to digest entering this season.

  The Western Hockey League introduced a new playoff format in the off-season that will see the top three teams in each Division make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs.

  The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed teams in each Conference, based on their regular-season record and regardless of Division.

  It is possible for one Division in each Conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other Division sends just three.

  The WHL also has a number of rule changes this year, including teams switching ends at the start of overtime.

  The league experimented with a dry scrape of the ice between the end of the third period and the start of overtime in the pre-season but, ultimately, it was not approved to continue into the regular season.

  Other rules changes to be aware of include:
 - banning of the 'spin-o-rama' move for shootout attempts.
 - a tripping penalty being assessed when a defending player 'dives' and trips an attacking player, regardless of   whether first contact was made with the puck.
 - faceoffs remaining in the offensive zone even if the attacking team causes the a stoppage in play IF the team is   attempting to create bona fide scoring opportunities.

  All and all, the changes are the same as those implemented by the National Hockey League this season and, generally speaking, are a continued attempt to create more offensive opportunities.

  Other rules to watch for early this year include the 'tuck' rule that took the NHL by storm early last season coming to the WHL.

  It means players are no longer allowed to tuck their jerseys into the back of their pants.

  The league also handed out misconduct penalties to some players during the pre-season not wearing their mouth guards properly.