Sunday, 27 March 2011

Wheat Kings Home Away From Home

It’s not exactly home ice for the Brandon Wheat Kings but they resume their WHL Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series with the Medicine Hat Tigers at a different venue on Monday night.

Brandon hasn’t had to play a playoff game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg for nearly five years but it’s a challenge they’re looking forward to, particularly the four members of the Wheat Kings who call Winnipeg home.

“It’s really exciting,” says third-year centre Paul Ciarelli, “I have a lot of family and friends that I hear are coming out and to get the opportunity to come and play in front of them is a real priviledge.”

In addition to Ciarelli, Scott Glennie, Mark Stone and David Toews are also Winnipeg products while Brenden Walker (Ste. Anne) and Jens Meilleur (Elie) hail from communities within ½ driving distance from Winnipeg.

Throw in Liam Liston and Matt MacKay, who both spent at least part of their childhoods in Winnipeg, and you have a lot of players that local Winnipeg fans can get behind.

“I really like it. You don’t get to come home that often, all my family is here and I’ve played hockey here my entire life,” says Glennie, “I’m really happy we’re here and I’m going to enjoy the couple of games that we have here.”

Brandon is unable to play in their home building this week because the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair has taken over the Keystone Centre, forcing the Wheat Kings to use an alternate venue.

It’s not the first time Brandon has been in the situation, but circumstances and good luck has meant the club hasn’t had to play a playoff game in Winnipeg since March 30, 2006.

Overall, the Wheat Kings are 21-7 in home games they’ve played in Winnipeg since 1994 including a 9-2 record at the MTS Centre since it first opened in 2005.

Meanwhile, Brandon and Medicine Hat are tied 1-1 in their Best-of-Seven Eastern Conference Quarter-Final entering Game #3 tonight.

And while Ciarelli and Glennie can both be excited about playing in their hometown, they can’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

“I think, right now, we’re just looking at it as Game #3. We both had to travel quite a distance to get here and it’s only two hours away from Brandon, it’s not that big a deal for us,” says Glennie, “These are our home games and we’ll use them to our advantage as much as possible.”

“Just playing here, there is an excitement but you can’t get your head wrapped around it too much,” adds Ciarelli, “There’s a playoff series ahead of us, we’re here to grab two wins and that’s our goal right now.”

Here’s a look at the Wheat Kings’ history in Winnipeg as the home team including the attendance figures for each contest...

MTS Centre (Opened in Fall of 2005)
Record: 9-2-0-0 Attendance: 36,961 (3,360 Per Game)

(Game #3 and #4 of Eastern Conference Quarter-Final)
March 30, 2006 – Moose Jaw Warriors 4 Brandon Wheat Kings 1 -- 4,384
March 27, 2006 – Brandon Wheat Kings 3 Moose Jaw Warriors 2 -- 3,069

Regular Season Games (2005-2006 season)
March 11, 2006 – Brandon Wheat Kings 5 Saskatoon Blades 4 (SO) -- 2,586
March 8, 2006 – Brandon Wheat Kings 6 Moose Jaw Warriors 4 -- 2,150
February 8, 2006 – Brandon Wheat Kings 5 Lethbridge Hurricances 0 -- 2,329
December 10, 2005 – Regina Pats 3 Brandon Wheat Kings 2 -- 2,481

(Game #2 of Eastern Conference Quarter-Final)
March 27, 2005 – Brandon Wheat Kings 5 Moose Jaw Warriors 1 -- 4,418

Regular Season Games (2004-2005 season)
March 16, 2005 – Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Moose Jaw Warriors 2 -- 4,056
February 23, 2005 – Brandon Wheat Kings 7 Regina Pats 3 -- 3,704
February 2, 2005 – Brandon Wheat Kings 2 Calgary Hitmen 1 -- 3,902
January 19, 2005 – Brandon Wheat Kings 7 Saskatoon Blades 3 -- 3,882


Winnipeg Arena
Record: 12-5-0 Attendance: 96,222 (5,660 per Game)

(Game #6 of Eastern Conference Quarter-Final)
March 29, 2004 – Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Prince Albert Raiders 1 -- 7,042

(Games #3, 4 & 6 of Eastern Conference Quarter-Final)
March 26, 2002 – Brandon Wheat Kings 3 Saskatoon Blades 1 -- 6,143
March 27, 2002 - Saskatoon Blades 2 Brandon Wheat Kings 1 (2OT) -- 6,202
April 2, 2002 – Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Saskatoon Blades 1 -- 4,789

(Games #3, 4 & 6 of Eastern Conference Quarter-Final)
March 26, 2001 - Swift Current Broncos 4 Brandon Wheat Kings 3 (2OT) -- 6,015
March 27, 2001 - Swift Current Broncos 3 Brandon Wheat Kings 2 -- 5,975
April 2, 2001 - Swift Current Broncos 3 Brandon Wheat Kings 2 -- 6,098

(Games #3 & 4 of Eastern Conference Semi-Final)
April 2, 1998 - Brandon Wheat Kings 6 Regina Pats 1 -- 6,024
April 4, 1998 - Brandon Wheat Kings 5 Regina Pats 3 -- 6,428

(Games #3 & 4 of Eastern Conference Semi-Final)
April 4, 1996 - Brandon Wheat Kings 7 Red Deer Rebels 1 -- 4,029
April 5, 1996 - Brandon Wheat Kings 7 Red Deer Rebels 2 -- 5,595

(Games #1 & # 2 of East Division Final)
April 14, 1995 - Brandon Wheat Kings 3 Prince Albert Raiders 2 -- 6,097
April 16, 1995 - Prince Albert Raiders 4 Brandon Wheat Kings 1 -- 5,423

(Games #1, 2 & 5 of East Division Semi-Final)
April 2, 1995 - Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Moose Jaw Warriors 3 -- 5,492
April 3, 1995 - Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Moose Jaw Warriors 3 -- 4,230
April 9, 1995 - Brandon Wheat Kings 7 Moose Jaw Warriors 6 (OT) -- 3,085

(Regular Season Game)
November 18, 1994 - Brandon Wheat Kings 8 Lethbridge Hurricanes 5 -- 7,555

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