Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nejezchleb Banned for Two Games

Richard Nejezchleb has been give a two-game suspension
  Brandon Wheat Kings' F Richard Nejezchleb has been handed a two-game suspension by the Western Hockey League for the clipping major he received late in the third period of Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinal series in Edmonton on Friday night.

  Nejezchleb laid a low-bridge hit on Edmonton forward Henrik Samuelsson with 3:48 remaining in the contest, which the Oil Kings led 5-1 at the time of the infraction and went on to win by that same score.

  Nejezchleb, who would be a 20-year old next season, would be forced to sit the first two games of the 2014-2015 WHL regular season should he return to the Wheat Kings (or another WHL team).

  Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals were hit hard by the WHL, with the team fined $10,000 and players Steven Hodges and Brandon Magee suspended for five and 12 games respectively.

  The fine and suspensions stem from incidents in from the fifth and final game of Victoria's Western Conference semifinal series loss to the Portland Winterhawks.

  Kootenay Ice coach Ryan McGill has also been fined $500 after being tossed late in Game Six Monday of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Medicine Hat.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wheat Kings Gather One Last Time

Jens Meilleur took to Twitter to express
his gratitude to the Wheat Kings organization
  The Brandon Wheat Kings' season concluded on Friday night.

  Sunday, the 2013-2014 editiion of the team met for the final time.

  It isn't often a team is satisfied when losing out in the playoffs, but a second round exit this season has to be considered a successful one for Brandon considering where the team was at just 12 months ago.

  The Wheat Kings not only missed the playoffs in 2012-2013, but the organization also seemed to have lost its winning culture.

  "Being able to have an effective playoffs and know that doing what I did out there gave my younger teammates playoff experience is going to be huge for the future," said Meilleur on Sunday, "I'm looking forward to see how the boys do next year, that's for sure."

  "I'm happy with what everyone did.  You look at the team last year, and they didn't have much success," added goaltender Jordan Papirny, "For my rookie year to come in and have success on this team is unbelievable for us and it'll give us confidence moving forward."

  Meilleur and fellow 20-year olds Rene Hunter and Chad Robinson played more than 600 games combined in a Wheat Kings' uniform, with their contributions during the 2013-2014 season not only measured by goals and assists.

  "One of the things where they brought a lot of value is we needed to change some things.  We finished in 12th-place last year, we missed the playoffs, so we had things we needed to change and those guys demonstrated a lot of leadership in helping those changes take place.  That's probably the biggest contribution they made to our team," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Friday night, "I told each of them after the game that they should feel real proud of what they did for our team this year.  I think we've got our culture where it needs to be to be poised to win.  The older players are always watched by the younger players, whether they know it or not, how they carry themselves, how they handle themselves,  their work ethic, all of those things are observed every day of the season and I think those three guys really acquainted themselves on our team this year."

  "I remember Day one like it was yesterday, how the organization brought me in and treated me like family right off the hop," added Meilleur, "They do that with all their players, and I think that just what makes this organization first class."  Meilleur obtained his German passport last year and is hoping to use it to play professionally in Germany next season.

Ryan Pilon also took to Twitter to express his
feeling about his first year with the Wheat Kings
  Meanwhile, his teammates are already buzzing about what could be in future years.

  The club is loaded with talented young players who are confident that this year could be the start of something special for the group, if they put in the time and effort.

  "Our team moving forward the next couple of years is going to be awesome.  You can see it out there and in the room.  Everyone is so tight," said Papirny, "The leadership group we had this year was awesome and, moving forward, that's going to carry on with the younger guys."

  Papirny is one of 22 players that finished the season wtih Brandon that are eligible to return next year.

  In addition to the three 20-year olds, captain Ryan Pulock will play professionally next season.

  In fact, Pulock has joined the New York Islanders' farm team and could make his AHL debut on Monday night when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers host Adirondack.

  Meanwhile, defenceman Eric Roy, a fifth round pick of Calgary in 2013, has joined the Flames' AHL farm team in Abbotsford and John Quenneville will play for the Canadian team at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship that begins later this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wheat Kings Season Comes to End

Jordan Papirny stopped 214 of 233 shots in the series.

  The Brandon Wheat Kings’ season came to an end in, basically, 128 seconds  on Friday night.
  The Edmonton Oil Kings blew open a 0-0 game by scoring three times in a two minute and eight second span late in the first period, with Henrik Samuelsson, Brett Pollock and Reid Petryk doing the damage for Edmonton.
  The victory gave the Oil Kings a four games to one victory in the Eastern Conference semifinal series and ended Brandon’s 2013-2014 season.
  The Wheat Kings started the game well enough and were outshooting Edmonton 6-5 at the marketing timeout with 8:28 left in the opening frame.
  Brandon then killed off a Taylor Green penalty immediately after the break, but things unravelled from there.
  “The second half of the first period, we just weren’t good enough.  They scored, but it wasn’t the first goal, it was our response to the first goal that hurt us,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “All of the sudden, it’s three goals in two minutes and eight seconds.  That was the tale of the tape, we chased the game the rest of the night.”
  The score remained 3-0 until early in the third period when Eric Roy gave the Wheat Kings some life with a 5-on-3 power-play goal 2:55 into the final frame but Brandon couldn’t get any closer.
  “Had some more good looks on the remaining 5-on-4 power-play.  If we could have continued to keep them from scoring, then you’re fighting to get the second one and all of the sudden make it a one-goal game,” said McCrimmon, “If got away from us, gave up the fourth goal, and that really hurt us.”
  Cody Corbett and Mitch Moroz tallied Edmonton’s final two goals while Tristan Jarry stopped 19 shots in the Oil Kings’ net.
  Jordan Papirny stopped 33 shots to finish the five-game series with 214 saves.
  Despite the second round exit, one would likely consider Brandon’s 2013-14 campaign a success.
  The team rebounded from a 24-win season and 12th-place finish in 2012-2013 to make the post-season and play into the second round.
  The experience gained by a team that includes 19 first or second-year players should prove to be invaluable down the road.
  “I’m  a big proponent of playoff experience making players better,” said McCrimmon, “Over the years, some of the real good teams we’ve had that have had real deep runs, those players become better players and they learn what it takes.”
  While the Wheat Kings’ season ended Friday, the year could continue for three players.
  Captain Ryan Pulock, the Islanders first round pick in 2013, could be asked to join New York’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport for the rest of their season while sources told me that John Quenneville and Jayce Hawryluk may be asked to join Canada’s team for the World Under-18 Hockey Championship that begins in Finland next week.
  The injury that sidelined Hawryluk for Game Five on Friday night could complicate his ability to answer Hockey Canada’s call.
20-year olds Jens Meilleur (left), Rene Hunter (centre) and Chad Robinson (right) all played their final WHL games Friday

Friday, April 11, 2014

Game #5 of Eastern Conference Semifinal - Brandon at Edmonton (April 11, 2014)

33. Jordan Papirny
1. Logan Thompson

6. Ryan Pilon - 2. Ryan Pulock
5. Colton Waltz - 9. Rene Hunter
11. Taylor Green - 32. Kale Clague

18. Richard Nejezchleb - 23. Tim McGauley - 15. Peter Quenneville
13. Rihards Bukarts - 20. Chad Robinson - 24. Jens Meilleur
7. Eric Roy - 17. John Quenneville - 19. Nolan Patrick
21. Tyler Coulter - 28. Quintin Lisoway - 12. Jesse Gabrielle

- Jayce Hawryluk (undisclosed) will not play for the Wheat Kings tonight after, presumably, being injured in practice Thursday.  Hawryluk collided with a teammate during a drill in practice yesterday but did finish practice.  Curtis Honey (finger) and Ryley Lindgren (lower body) are also out with injuries while Braylon Shmyr, Brett Kitt and Kord Pankewicz are the other Brandon scratches.

- In dealing with Hawryluk's injury, the Wheat Kings will dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen for tonight's game.  Based on how they went through warmup, it looks like fourth-year blueliner Eric Roy will replace Hawryluk on the line with John Quenneville and Nolan Patrick.

- Brandon's defence core, which included four players with 30-plus points in the regular season, has been very quiet in this series.  The Brandon blueliners have combined for just one assists in the first four games, and captain Ryan Pulock is pointless so far.  In fact, Pulock is on a six-game pointless streak going into Game Five tonight.

- Saw this interesting note today -- Wednesday's loss was the first ever in the second round of the playoffs for the Edmonton Oil Kings 2.0.  The Oil Kings swept Brandon in 2012 and Medicine Hat in 2013 and didn't make it to the second round of the post-season prior to the last two years.

- The Oil Kings get another big forward back tonight as 6-foot-4, 206 pound Brandon Baddock returns after missing 22 games with a broken hand.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pilon Coming into Own

Ryan Pilon (right) and Ryan Pulock have formed
a formidible duo as Brandon's top
defence pair in the second half.
  Maybe it’s necessity, maybe it’s a coming of age and maybe it’s a combination of both, but Ryan Pilon has certainly upped his physically in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ second round series with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
  Pilon has spent much of the Eastern Conference semifinal matched up against Edmonton’s line of Mitch Moroz, Henrik Samuelsson and Reid Petryk, a threesome that averages 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds.
  “When you’re taking on the role of playing everybody’s top lines, you have to increase that level of intensity,” said Pilon after Brandon’s workout in Edmonton Thursday, “You have to play the body on them, and make it hard for them to play.”
  Pilon, who goes 6-foot-2, 212 pounds himself, has had a solid 2014 post-season for the Wheat Kings, scoring one goal and four points in eight games while recording a +2 rating.
  The product of Duck Lake, Saskatchewan has come into his own during the second half of the WHL season after being acquired from Lethbridge in mid-November and, particularly, after being paired with Wheat Kings’ captain Ryan Pulock beginning about a month after he first arrived in Brandon.
  Now, Pilon is continuing his growth by playing in the WHL playoffs for the first time.
  “It’s definitely a learning year for me for playoffs but everybody has to increase their level of intensity that much higher.  Playing the second half, you definitely get comfortable in playing the minutes I have been,” said Pilon, who isn’t eligible for the NHL Draft until 2015, “Crim (Wheat Kings’ HC Kelly McCrimmon) been really looking forward for pushing me, so you really need to take on that role.”
The Wheat Kings practiced in
Edmonton on Thursday
  The Wheat Kings will visit Edmonton on Friday night in Game Five of their Eastern Conference semifinal, looking for a second straight win to extend the series further.
  Brandon took Game Four on home-ice Wednesday by a 5-2 score, a victory that should give the Wheat Kings a little more confidence moving forward.
  “We got some goals against Jarry, we started playing our game and just confidence knowing we can beat them now going into this Game Five,” said Pilon “It should be good.”
  The Wheat Kings will have to get over the Rexall Place Hex in order to extend the Eastern Conference semifinal further.
  Brandon has lost 12 straight games in Edmonton, last recording a victory on December 31, 2009.
Chaff...Ryley Lindgren, who missed Game Four, was on the ice for the first part of practice Thursday before departing...Curtis Honey (finger) was the only other Wheat King not to participate in Thursday’s session...Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny was celebrating his 18th birthday on Thursday.