Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wheat Kings Remain Optimistic

The Brandon Wheat Kings haven’t had any problems scoring goals for the past several seasons, but 2010-2011 appears to be different right now.

The club has scored 14 goals during the course of a seven-game losing streak while going 2-for-38 on the power-play in that stretch.

Telling stats to be sure, but the most telling statistic might be the simplest of all – the Wheat Kings are undefeated this season when they score four or more goals.

Unfortunately, that’s happened just three times in 11 games this season and not at all over the last three weeks.

“When they aren’t going in, you really need to work to get those second chances and those hard-work goals from the tough areas,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon prior to Wednesday’s game in Prince George, “That’s likely one part of our game that could be better.”

Indeed, this season’s edition of the Wheat Kings is one of developing skill and talent rather than existing skill and talent, which means highlight reel goals will be fewer and further between and goal-scoring will likely come more from hard-work, determination and proper positioning.

“It’s going to come with experience in our younger guys as they start maturing and it’ll come from leadership and the older guys leading by example,” said Brandon defenceman Brodie Melnychuk after the club’s practice in Vancouver on Thursday, “If we can figure that out as quick as we can, we’ll be fine.”

Not to make any excuses, but this is a club that has been missing two of its top six forwards in David Toews and Michael Ferland this month, while slow offensive starts for Scott Glennie (1 goal) and Shayne Wiebe (6 points) can also be part of the reason for the club’s offensive issues.

The Wheat Kings have been in “close but no cigar” territory in virtually every game during this stretch, with six of the seven losses decided by two goals or less and the only exception being a 4-1 loss in Swift Current last Saturday that included an empty-net goal for the Broncos.

“Throughout this seven game stretch, we’ve played well in a lot of games but we have to find a way to win those close ones,” says Melnychuk, “We haven’t done that so far and I guess that’s why we’re in the situation that we’re in.”

The Wheat Kings are 2-6-0-0 in games decided by two goals or less this season overall, and two other telltale stats may also tell part of the story.

Brandon has had the lead after two periods just once in the last seven games, and has scored first just once in the last seven contests.

A reversal in those trends and fewer mistakes from veteran players could be just the recipe to get the Wheat Kings back in the win column.

Chaff…Wheat Kings’ leading scorer Mark Stone (back) missed practice again on Thursday while F Scott Glennie was also a spectator on Thursday…F Carter Proft, 16, has joined the team in Vancouver…F Wheaton King leads the Wheat Kings in scoring in the month of October with seven points (2 G, 5 A) in eight games…Brandon’s last visit to Vancouver was November 1, 2008, with the Giants defeating the Wheat Kings 4-3...the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have officially announced that former Wheat King Andrew Hayes has joined the team. Hayes practiced for the first time on Wednesday...Brayden Schenn notched his first NHL point, an assist, in LA's 4-2 loss to Phoenix on Thursday night.

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