Friday, 21 January 2011

MacKay Finally Has Chance to Settle In

It was an important week of practice for Brandon Wheat Kings' forward Matt MacKay.

Since being acquired by the Brandon in a trade with the Vancouver Giants on January 5th, MacKay hasn't had a lot of practice time with his new team because of a rather hectic game schedule for the Wheat Kings.

"I think when I came in, I was adjusting to the systems right on the fly and I think getting a couple of practices under my belt, I know I feel better," said MacKay followed Thursday's, "I'm not just out there winging it and asking questions on the bench. I'm sure Stoner and Wieber were getting kind of annoyed with me so it's nice to have a couple of practices under my belt."

The added comfort could be key in at least one of MacKay's roles moving forward, and that is playing the point on Brandon's power-play.

MacKay first started playing on the back-end in Vancouver at the start of this season and it's a role he feels he's still getting accustomed to.

"I think it's something in my first week or two in Vancouver, I was gripping the stick pretty tight and not making the plays I can and being scared of turnovers," says MacKay, who has three assists in six games with Brandon, "It's one of those things that I need to rely on my skill and don't be tense back there. I just rely on my skill, making easy plays and don't put myself in a spot where I can turn the puck over."

MacKay also wore a letter in Vancouver prior to his trade to Brandon and while that same opportunity doesn't exist with the Wheat Kings at this point, he seems to have become something of a mentor for Brandon's younger players.

MacKay feels that's all part of the responsibility of being a 20-year old.

"One of my roles out there was to instruct, and if anyone has any questions, whether it's on or off the ice, I want to be a guy they can come talk to if there have any problems," says MacKay, "I think guys have slowly started to realize that since I've been here, the younger guys are asking me questions and not only are they asking me questions, I'm asking them stuff about how they're doing. I think it's just a part of my game and part of who I am."

The Wheat Kings host the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday night (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place) with a lineup that will include goaltenders Corbin Boes and Liam Liston.

Both netminders have been nursing injuries, which led Brandon to bringing in Michael Tadjdeh from the Junior A ranks to start both of last weekend's games.

The Wheat Kings enter the weekend seven points back of Prince Albert for eighth-place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chaff...F Dominick Favreau (ribs) and F Paul Ciarelli (charleyhorse) will not play this weekend...G Liam Liston was scheduled to arrive back in Brandon late Thursday after playing at the CHL Top Prospects Game in Toronto and, therefore, did not take part in practice on Thursday...former Wheat King Jay Fehr has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Dresdner in Germany's second division after spending the first half of the winter with Acadia University...a pair of Wheat Kings' prospects are on the shelf. Cody Nelson (Brandon, MMHL) has a fractured clavicle while Quintin Lisoway (Yellowhead, MMHL) injured his spleen in a game earlier this month.

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