Thursday, 5 January 2012

Stone, Bertaggia, Nikkel Back in Lineup Friday

Bertaggia celebrates his only goal of the WJHC
Photo: JC Pinheiro / HHOF-IIHF Images
The Brandon Wheat Kings will get some reinforcements Friday night when they open a weekend doubleheader in Prince Albert.

Mark Stone is expected to join the team on Friday after helping Canada to a bronze medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Alberta while Alessio Bertaggia re-joined his Brandon teammates on Thursday night.

Bertaggia had one goal and four points in six games with Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championship, helping the Swiss to an eighth-place finish.

“I think it’s a good experience to learn and, hopefully, next year will be better and we can get into the medal round,” said Bertaggia on Thursday night, “For me, I think I improved every game. I didn’t play that good the first game but I think it went better after the Sweden game.”

Bertaggia had 17 goals and 34 points in 35 games with Brandon during the first half of the season and the 18-year old hopes to building on those numbers in the second half.

“Now I’m really excited to come back and play with Brandon,” said Bertaggia, “I’m happy to see the guys and I hope the team is going to have a good second part of the season and get into a good spot for the playoffs.”

In addition to Stone and Bertaggia, the Wheat Kings will also get Ayrton Nikkel back after he helped Team Pacific to a fifth-place finish at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario.

Brandon is trying to break a two-game losing streak after back-to-back blowout losses to Edmonton and Saskatoon.

The two games mark the first time since March of 1999 that Brandon had surrendered at least 15 goals against in back-to-back games.

Chaff… Brandon is just 4-for-31 (12.9%) on the power-play in their last nine games…D Brodie Melnychuk will play his 286th career game on Friday, tying him with Kelly Smart for 10th-place on the Wheat Kings’ all-time list…F Mark Stone will play his 200th career WHL game on Friday.

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