Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wheat Kings Hope to Make Hay at Home

The Brandon Wheat Kings hope home-cooking will be more to their liking over the next three weeks.

After playing eight consecutive games on the road, the Wheat Kings have seven of their next nine games at Westman Communications Group Place starting with Friday's home game against the Spokane Chiefs (7:30 p.m., CKLQ).

Brandon won just two of their eight road games (2-5-0-1) over the last three weeks, but rallied from a nine-game losing streak to gain five of a possible eight points in their final four games last week.

"I thought our play improved and certainly getting the losing streak snapped allowed us to put our focus on improving as a team, which I thought we did over the final four games of the trip," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon earlier this week, "The experience that our young players are getting is tremendous. I think the trip took a toll on some of our guys that are playing a lot of minutes."

The loss of defenceman Ryley Miller due to injury early in the game in Vancouver on October 22nd meant the club dressed four rookie defencemen in each of the last five games.

Miller's status for this weekend is still up in the air, but second-year forward Michael Ferland returned from a knee injury for the last three games and fellow forwards David Toews (ankle) and Jens Meilleur (hand) are also close to being able to return to the lineup.

In fact, Toews, Meilleur, Miller and F Shayne Wiebe (leg) all participated in practice fully on Thursday.

Brandon enters their annual contest with Spokane with an overall record of 6-10-0-1, which puts them 9th-place in the Eastern Conference but just five points out of fourth spot so a good run over the next 16 days could go a long way toward the team moving up in the standings.

"Through 17 games, we've had some ups and downs, we've had some adversity which I think, as we fight our way out of it, is really going to strengthen us," adds McCrimmon, "We're still working on developing exactly our identity is going to be and how we need to play. I think when we've done that, we've been able to play very well and we need to continue to work on that moving forward."

Some other positive signs for the Wheat Kings over the final week of their road trip including the re-emergence of a couple of players that were expected to lead the way offensively.

Scott Glennie had eight points (1 G, 7 A) in the last five games while Shayne Wiebe had a 3-game point streak (2 G, 2 A) going into last Saturday’s game in Lethbridge, which he left after the first period with a leg injury.

In addition, Brandon’s power-play is 6-for-28 (21.4%) in the last five games after enduring a 2-for-44 slump in the previous eight contests.

Chaff...Wheat Kings' assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk is getting closer to returning behind the bench. Gylywoychuk, who suffered a fractured vertebra just below his shoulder blades in early August, was on the ice with the team during practice this week...F Mark Stone was named the Tip Top Tailors Player of the Month for September/October after scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 16 games...approximately $3,400 was raised for the Canadian Kidney Foundation through the annual Tip-a-Wheat King event this past Tuesday.

No comments: