Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Wheat Kings Look to Continue Rolling

Brenden Walker
The Brandon Wheat Kings try to run their winning streak to a season high five games Tuesday night when they entertain the Kootenay Ice (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Wheat Kings' have won seven of their last eight games and have been led over the past two weeks by the line of Mark Stone, Michael Ferland and Brenden Walker, who have combined for 22 goals and 54 points in that span.

"We're just playing good all-around the ice there, and good defensively and that's what's causing us to get a lot of opportunities in the offensive zone," said Walker after practice on Monday, "We're having fun, we're playing well together and it's just going to get better, so."

The hot streak for the threesome couldn't have come at a better time as two of the club's other top-six forwards in Kevin Sundher and Alessio Bertaggia have been sidelined recently with concussions.

"Good time to start playing better as a team. This is a key time of the year, we have to win games and it has to keep coming," added Walker, "We just have to keep playing well as a team and I think we'll be just fine."

Bertaggia could return to the Brandon lineup on Tuesday. The Swiss import practiced without restriction on Monday after missing the past four games.

The Wheat Kings will enter Tuesday's game still one point behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

"Other teams are winning games, and we can't stop them from winning games," said Walker, "We just have to keep winning games and I think we'll be fine. Just get into playoffs here, get a spot in the playoffs and we're going to prove our point."

While the Wheat Kings do remain eighth in the Conference, just six points separate fourth from eighth-place so they club could still earn home-ice advance in the first round of the playoffs with a strong finish.

Chaff...with no player having seen action in every game this season, Walker is actually Brandon's current 'ironman', playing 58 straight games after missing the first three games of the regular season...Brandon captain Mark Stone takes a 12-game point scoring streak (7 G, 20 A) into Tuesday's contest and a one point lead over Portland's Ty Rattie for top spot in the WHL scoring race...goaltender Corbin Boes is 5-2-0 with a 2.60 GAA and .930 SPCT over his last eight appearances while partner Brandon Anderson is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .926 SPCT in his last three starts...former Wheat Kings' captain Keith Aulie was sent to the AHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Aulie had one assist and was +1 in two games in his latest stint in the NHL, and has two points in 17 games overall with the Leafs this season...Brandon is averaging 4,082 fans per game through 28 home games, down just under 200 from last year's average of 4,276...Kootenay captain Drew Czerwonka is expected to his the next 4 - 6 weeks. Jeff Bromley reports that the Oilers' draft pick was seen prior to Kootenay's home game Saturday on crutches and wearing a knee brace (the proverbial 'lower body' injury)...Kootenay will also be without defenceman Jeff Hubic for Tuesday's game. He was handed a one-game suspension by the WHL after being assessed a charging major in Kootenay's home-ice loss to Regina on Saturday.

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