Friday, 13 January 2012

Nikkel Poised for more D Time

Ayrton Nikkel
 Brandon's acquisition of Kevin Sundher will have an impact on the Wheat Kings' blueline.

With Jordan Fransoo dealt as part of the package for Sundher, rookies Ayrton Nikkel and Dylan Kuczek should be in the lineup as defencemen on a more regular basis.

"It's pretty exciting for me to get more ice time, but you never really want any of your friends or teammates to go," said Nikkel after Thursday's practice, "Some things have to happen. It was good for me...I'm looking forward to the second half."

Nikkel played in 28 games prior to the deal but only a handful were on the blueline, with the rest coming as a winger as the club filled out its forward ranks because of injuries and/or suspensions.

"I was just really trying to stay in the lineup. I would have taken forward, just getting in and playing with everyone and getting into the game was good," said Nikkel, "I kept watching guys like Melnychuk, Miller and all the D-Men, just watching them and trying to stay into D and learning. I got a couple of practices but it was pretty tough...watching a lot of the guys helped."

Nikkel has two goal, three points and a minus-six rating in 29 games this season -- numbers that could improve with the expected additional ice time over the remaining 30 games of the regular season.

"I have to learn to be patient. After watching some video, I realize that I have more time than I think I do," said Nikkel when asked what he feels could be his biggest area of improvement, "Just being poised and being patient and trying to stay on my feet a little bit."

The Wheat Kings host the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night.

Brandon is sitting five points ahead of Red Deer for eighth-place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chaff...G Corbin Boes' recovery from a broken hand is going better than expected, and he could return to the lineup within the next 10 days...F Tyrel Seaman still isn't practicing as he continues to recover from a suspected concussion...Alessio Bertaggia and Mark Stone were both given the day off practice on Thursday. The duo will be honoured prior to Friday's game for their accomplishments at the World Junior Hockey Championship...Stone spent Thursday evening signing autographs and meeting fans at Murray Chev Cadillac Buick GMC in Brandon.

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