Monday, 13 February 2012

Stone Chasing Down Scoring Title

Seven players are separated by six points in the WHL scoring
race including Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone (center)
(Clockwise, starting from top left: Michael St. Croix, Jordan
Weal, Emerson Etem, Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman
and Ty Rattie
Mark Stone usually deflects discussion centred on himself, but the Wheat Kings’ captain admits it’d be an honour to join the likes of Brian Propp, Ray Ferraro and Eric Fehr as Brandon players to win the WHL scoring crown.

Stone is one of seven players within six points of each other in one of the tightest races for the scoring title in the history of the Western Hockey League.

“Obviously, it would be neat. The #1 goal right now is to get into the playoffs and have success in the playoffs,” said Stone after the Wheat Kings’ practice in Medicine Hat on Monday, “Obviously, I want to be one of the top players in the league if not the top player in the league so it’s just one thing that would put something on that.”

Stone initially struggled after returning from a starring role with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship but has returned to his first half form after the last couple of weeks, scoring five goals and 15 points during a current eight-game point-scoring streak.

“That was quite the experience and you really don’t want it to end. Coming back, you still want to be there but it’s something that I had to adjust to,” said Stone, “I feel like I’m back to being part of the team and just trying to compete every night and do it to the best of your ability.”

Stone is one of four Winnipeg products in the top seven in scoring in the WHL, joining Edmonton’s Michael St. Croix (87 points), and a pair of Tri-City Americans in Brendan Shinnimin (85 points) and Adam Hughesman (84 points).

“I think it’s growing a lot more since Jonathan Toews has really put Winnipeg on the map. Obviously, guys are starting to understand that they can make it to the next level from Winnipeg,” said Stone, “We went through a tough stretch where there wasn’t really too many players but we’re starting to get put back on the globe.”

Heading into Tuesday’s action, Stone has 90 points and is tied with Regnia’s Jordan Weal in the scoring race, one point ahead of both Medicine Hat’s Emerson Etem and Portland’s Ty Rattie.

Brandon visits the Kootenay Ice Tuesday in the middle game of their three-game road trip (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ or online at http://www.cklq.com/).

Chaff…F Alessio Bertaggia, who left Sunday’s game in Medicine Hat late in the first period, did not practice on Monday and is questionable for the rest of the week…Brandon is 7-3-0-1 in their last 11 regular season visits to Cranbrook…Brandon has outshot their opponents in just 22 of 57 games this season and scored first in 25 of 57 games.

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