Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ciarelli Trying to Nail Down 20-Year Spot

The Brandon Wheat Kings don't have a battle for their 20-year old spot per say, but that doesn't mean Paul Ciarelli isn't competing for one.

Ciarelli and defenceman Brodie Melnychuk, who is currently sidelined with a fractured wrist, are the only '91-born players currently with the Wheat Kings.

"It's a little weird to have only two this year because some teams have four or five," said Ciarelli earlier this week, "I just have to keep going out there, stick on the first line, improve my offence this year and be a leader on this team."

Ciarelli's competition for a 20-year old spot may, in fact, be from someone that is currently outside the organization.

There are 75 20-year olds on WHL pre-season rosters, nine more than will be on the 22 teams when the deadline passes October 13th.

"You don't have a safe spot until the deadline so I'm just going to work hard every single day right to the very end," said Ciarelli, "I'm excited, and it should be fun."

Ciarelli notched eight goals and 18 points in 60 games last season, not the kind of offensive numbers you'd expect from a 20-year old forward.

The Winnipeg product also realizes he needs to do more at the offensive end.

"This past summer, I've been working on my shot a lot and taking pucks to the net," said Ciarelli, who has a goal and two points in two pre-season games, "I think as I keep on practicing, those things will come as I go along."

Ciarelli has looked comfortable centreing a line between imports Alessio Bertaggia and Bruno Mraz in the first two games of the pre-season.

Brandon plays their third game of the pre-season tonight when they visit the Regina Pats (7:50 p.m., CKLQ).

The Wheat Kings then host the Pats Friday to wrap up their pre-season schedule.

Chaff...Mark Stone scored 1:53 into overtime as Ottawa beat Toronto 4-3 at an NHL Rookie Tournament in Oshawa on Tuesday night...D Jordan Fransoo is also playing with the Sens at that Tournament...Michael Ferland and the Calgary Flames were idle Tuesday at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton...former Wheat King Dustin Kohn has signed a one-year contract with Orebro of the Swedish Elite League...former Wheat Kings Stephane Robidoux has been named captain of the MJHL's Waywayseecappo Wolverines...Thursday is McWheat King Day. You can meet players, get some autographs and wish the team good luck at the Richmond Avenue McDonald's from 10:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. and 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

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