Friday, 10 September 2010

Wheat Kings Set to Open Pre-Season

The Brandon Wheat Kings open their pre-season schedule Friday night as they pay a visit to the Regina Pats.

After five days of training camp and three days of practice, there's no doubt the players are anxious to get into game action.

"Every year, by the time you get to the pre-season, guys are excited to play against an opponent," says Wheat Kings' GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "Regina have played twice already so we expect they are probably be ahead of us in some regards but we have to work hard to make good impressions."

The Wheat Kings' coaching staff started the process of implementing their system during practice this week and, yet, there certainly can't be an expectation the rookie players will have those down.

"We've tried to touch on a lot of areas, and there's some areas of our game where they will be measured in terms of some of the team things, some of the things we like to do as a team," says McCrimmon, "Yet, there's lots to learn and reinforce and get better at, which is what the pre-season and the early stages of the regular season are all about."

Rookies Corbin Boes and Ty Rimmer are to split the duties in the Brandon net Friday, while the Wheat Kings' lineup will be dotted heavily with first-year players including David Toews.

After playing Friday, Toews will head to pro camp with the New York Islanders.

"There's no question it'll be a young lineup," says McCrimmon, "Not only in terms of the first-year players we'll have playing, but I think you also look at your veteran players and try to get a sense of how anxious they are for more responsibility and how capable they are of taking that opportunity."

Meanwhile, Brandon's slew of young defenceman will get their first chance to impress in game situations this weekend.

20-year olds Darren Bestland and Mark Schneider are likely to dress for just one game each while Brodie Melnychuk has left for Anaheim's camp, making it quite likely that at least four rookies will patrol the blueline on Friday and Saturday.

McCrimmon likes a lot of his young defenceman, and has made the comparison several times this month to 2007, when the Wheat Kings had a very young forward core that matured quickly, highlighted by the 'Baby Blue' line of Brayden Schenn, Scott Glennie and Matt Calvert.

"To think there's not going to be a learning curve or growing pains with rookie defenceman, you'd be kidding yourself," says McCrimmon, "It's a process that's ongoing and needs to be worked at and exhibition games are going to be a great measuring stick for these guys."

Eight rookie blueliners remain on the Wheat Kings' pre-season roster in Dylan Kuczek, Ryan Pulock, Jordan Fransoo, Rene Hunter, Josh Elmes, Kyle Krzyzaniak, Spencer Galbraith and Eric Roy.

Chaff...I'm not on the air tonight but will be making the trip to Regina and sending back updates. You can also get those on my twitter at www.twitter.com/wheatkingsvoice ...Rookie F Dakota Conroy hasn't practiced since suffering an asthma attack on Monday and is unlikely to play this weekend...F Jon Gaudet (groin) and G Liam Liston (hamstring) are also not expected to play Friday or Saturday...Killarney product Reid Gow had a goal and an assist in Spokane's 7-2 victory over Lethbridge in pre-season action on Thursday.

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