Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The First of Two

The round-robin of the MasterCard Memorial Cup will close Wednesday night with a matchup between the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Calgary Hitmen (7:08 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

It's a meaningless game for the standings as the two teams know they'll play each other in the semifinal on Friday.

"We've played Calgary a whole lot this season and, unfortunately, they were the ones that knocked us out of the playoffs," says Brandon right-winger Aaron Lewadniuk, "I think we're really excited to get another wack at these guys."

"Calgary has played us tough all year, and we've played well against them," adds defenceman Brodie Melnychuk, "It's a pretty good rivalry that we have going right now so it's going to be a good, hard game."

The only concrete thing at stake Wednesday night will be home-ice advantage in Friday's semifinal, which will go to the winner.

However, Brandon is trying to use the matchup as another building block toward their ultimate goal.

"We are like everybody here, we want to play our best game of the year on Sunday and for that to happen, we have to keep getting better as the week goes on," says Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "We feel our game against Moncton was a starting point but, at the same time, we understand that that's the way you have to play to give your team a chance to win."

Much of the focus around the arena Tuesday was on the matchup Wednesday between brothers Michael and Mark Stone.

Michael, a defenceman with Calgary, and Mark, a forward with Brandon, are believed to be a rare company when it comes to brothers playing on opposing teams at the Memorial Cup.
Officially, no one is quite sure if it's the first time.

I imagine they'll be plenty of quotes and features from a lot of media who wouldn't have known anything about the duo before this week.

For parents Rob and Jackie Stone, it should be a bit more relaxing game tonight being as neither team can be eliminated no matter what the result but I can't imagine but they'll be feeling on Friday.

The Howarth brothers, Kyle and Brent, were also on opposing teams at the 2004 Memorial Cup with Kyle a member of Medicine Hat and Brent with the host Kelowna Rockets.

However, Kyle never played a game at the Memorial Cup Tournament. Ironicall, the Howarths also hail from Winnipeg.

Chaff...it's Stanley Cup Day at the Memorial Cup Wednesday. It'll be on display from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Manitoba Hydro Hockey Hall of Fame display in the UCT Pavilion. Your opportunity to have your picture taken with hockey's biggest trophy...former Wheat Kings' captain Jeff Odgers is provided colour commentary for FAN 590 in Toronto for the rest of Memorial Cup week. Odgers joked with me last night that's he's still waiting for a phone call from the Wheat Kings so that he can drop a ceremonial opening faceoff...Odgers is now living on the family farm near Spy Hill, Saskatchewan and said he spent at least part of his day Tuesday 'pulling a calf' before making the trip to Brandon.

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