Friday, 4 November 2011

Rookie D Help Fill Thin Ranks

Ayrton Nikkel
The Brandon Wheat Kings will be a little thin at forward Friday night when they host the Calgary Hitmen (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Darian's Dziurzynski's suspension and ongoing injuries to Dominick Favreau and Jens Meilleir leave Brandon with just ten healthy forwards.

Rookie defencemen Ayrton Nikkel and Dylan Kuczek joined centre Daniel Asham to form the club's fourth line in practice on Thursday.

"It's a lot better than sitting out," said Nikkel after Thursday's practice, "At least get a couple of shifts during the game and try to give some energy to the team."

Playing forward isn't an entirely foreign concept to Nikkel, who played up front during his minor hockey days.

"I used to play forward back in Bantam, with some pretty good players on my line but it's still pretty tough, I've never played it at this level, all the forwards are so good," said Nikkel, who also played left-wing during Tuesday's win in Swift Current, "I just try to get the puck deep and not go minus."

The Wheat Kings will be looking for a third straight win Friday night, which would be a season high for the club.

For Nikkel, the simpler, the better this weekend.

"Just try to know the systems, all the break-outs and try not to mess up," said Nikkel, who also played left-wing during Tuesday's win in Swift Current, "Just stay even or even a plus, maybe."

Chaff...the WHL announced six players as replacements or additions to Team WHL for the Subway Super Series on Thursday but Brandon's Ryan Pulock, who is tied for the league-lead in defenceman scoring, still did not make the cut...Brandon captain Mark Stone takes a season opening 16-game point scoring streak and six game goal-scoring streak into Friday's game...Brandon's Michael Ferland has points in seven of the last eight games, notching seven goals and 15 points in that span...goaltender Corbin Boes is 5-1 with a 2.15 GAA and .927 SPCT in his last nine appearances...the WHL announced this week that 300 former players are taking advantage of WHL Scholarships for the 2011-2012 academic year. Included in that total are 23 former members of the Brandon Wheat Kings: James Priestner (Vancouver Community College); Paul Van De Velde (University of Toronto); Sanfred King (McGill University); Cale Jefferies (University of Guelph); Daniel Bartek (Dalhousie University); Mark Louis (St. Francis Xavier); Andrew Clark (Acadia University); Tyler Boldt (Athabasca University); Dalyn Flett (Mount Royal University); Mark Schneider (University of Regina); Bryan Kauk (University of Regina); Theran Yeo (University of British Columbia); Teegan Moore (University of Calgary), Jacob De Serres (University of Calgary); Matt Lowry, Brandon Lockerby, Kyle Krzyzaniak, Nathan Green, Chad Erb, Tyler Dittmer, Del Cowan, Joe Caligiuri and Darren Bestland (all at University of Manitoba).

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