Friday, 16 April 2010

Wheat Kings Set for Game #1

The Brandon Wheat Kings open their Eastern Conference Final Friday night when they visit the Calgary Hitmen (7:38 p.m., CKLQ).

It’s the fourth time in the last six years the two teams will meet in the post-season and the second straight year the clubs play in the Eastern Conference Final after Calgary swept Brandon in last year’s Best-of-Seven series.

“I think any team that you play over and over, especially in the playoffs and especially teams that end your season, it makes them easy to hate,” says Brandon defenceman Colby Robak, who is facing Calgary in the playoffs for the third time in his WHL career, “We’re all ready for it and excited to get going.”

One of the keys for the Wheat Kings in the series will be limiting WHL scoring champion Brandon Kozun, who was involved in nearly 40 percent of the Hitmen’s goals during the regular season, notching 107 points and adding 18 more in the playoffs.

Robak and defence partner Travis Hamonic are expected to see a lot of Kozun in this series.

“He’s a goal scorer and his type of game is scoring goals and he’s having fun when he’s doing it,” says Robak, who leads all defencemen in scoring in the playoffs with 12 points, “If we can take the fun and the want out of his game, shut him down and get him frustrated, it’ll be a little tougher for him to play. That’s our goal and if we can do that, we should be okay.”

The Wheat Kings are one of the more effective teams in limiting Kozun during the regular season, allowing the LA Kings draft pick to register just one goal and two points in four regular season meetings with Calgary.

Brandon will be trying to improve on their perfect 5-and-0 road playoff record Friday and, in the process, improve upon their recent success at the Saddledome.

The Wheat Kings are 5-3-0-0 in their last eight regular season visits to Calgary including back-to-back wins over the Hitmen this season.

Chaff…Brandon is 56-23-2-2 on the road in the regular season and playoffs combined over the past two seasons…Brandon F Aaron Lewadniuk takes a five-game point streak (3 G, 4 A) into Friday’s contest… Both of Brandon specialty teams are ranked #1 in the Western Hockey League among teams that advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Brandon’s power play is 12-for-40 (30.0%) in the post-season while the penalty-kill is 29-for-35 (82.9%)…Calgary’s power-play (29.0%) and penalty-kill (87.5%) were both #1 in the WHL during the regular season.

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