Monday, 22 August 2011

Wheat Kings Get Import Picks Approved

Alessio Bertaggia
The Brandon Wheat Kings have secured the transfer cards for their two picks from June's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

The move means Swiss forward Alessio Bertaggia and Slovakian forward Bruno Mraz will be able to hit the ice when the Wheat Kings open training camp next week.

"It's a process," said Wheat Kings' GM Kelly McCrimmon late Monday afternoon, "There are different steps in the process and for us to get their transfer cards approved now gets us to the next step in process, which is getting these players to North America, to Brandon and participating in our training camp next week."

Both players are expected to arrive in Brandon later this week, and just what impact they may have on the Wheat Kings this season remains to be seen.

"Once we get into training camp, the pre-season, we'll know a lot more about what kind of contributions we can expect from both players," said McCrimmon, "Our work that we did prior to the Import Draft leads us to feel that we have two players that are going to be good contributors to our team, and with the openings we have at the forward position, the timing is going to be very good."

The 5-foot-8, 165 pound Bertaggia (aka Red 23 from Portland's camp last season) was Brandon's first round pick (33rd overall) in the Import Draft after scoring one goal and four points in 29 games with HC Lugano in the Swiss Elite League last season, and also notching 22 goals and 37 points in 20 junior games.

Mraz, meanwhile, was selected in the second round of the Import Draft (62nd overall).

The 5-foot-11, 176 pound centre had 15 goals and 37 points in 32 games with the Bratislava junior team.

Bruno Mraz
"It depends on a lot of things that aren't hockey related...how quickly they get used to a different country, what grasp they have on the language in terms of getting to know their teammates, understanding the direction they're getting from their coaches all play into it," added McCrimmon, "Then it's just a matter of getting on the ice and playing.  Those are all things we'll know more about as we go along."


Meanwhile, the start of the Wheat Kings' training camp is just over a week away.

Wheat Kings' Training Camp officially gets underway with Rookie Camp registration Tuesday and on-ice sessions starting Wednesday.

Returning players will report Monday for fitness testing. They will hit the ice for the first time next Friday.

Training camp concludes with the annual Intrasquad game on Sunday, September 4th.

Chaff...former Brandon Wheat King Ryan Stone is headed overseas. Stone has signed with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League. Stone spent all of last season with the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, notching 11 goals and 25 points in 51 games.

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