Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nikkel Set for Playoff Debut

Ayrton Nikkel set to make WHL playoff
debut tonight
Defenceman Ayrton Nikkel is one of a trio of Wheat Kings that are expected to make their Western Hockey League playoff debuts on Thursday night.

Nikkel had a strong finish to the regular season, collecting one goal and six points over 20 games in February and March while also registering a +3 rating.

Now, the Kelowna product is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the post-season.

“There’s going to be some fast-paced hockey that I haven’t played, really,” said Nikkel after Brandon’s practice in Calgary on Wednesday, “We’ve been playing really good lately. We have some tough competition here but I think we can get our heads in it, playing some fast-paced hockey and win this thing.”

Nikkel is one of seven players that have never played a WHL playoff games but the Wheat Kings do have 215 games of playoff experience, led by fifth-year defenceman Brodie Melnychuk’s 39 playoff games.

I asked Nikkel if he’s seeked out any advice from some of the Brandon veterans.

“They’re just telling me to stay calm,” said Nikkel, “It’s still the game of hockey, you still have to have some fun and everything but just about how fast-paced it is and you have to get your head in it early.”

Imports Alessio Bertaggia and Bruno Mraz are the other first-year players expected to be in Brandon’s lineup when they open the post-season Thursday night against the Calgary Hitmen (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ or online at

The Wheat Kings should also get some reinforcement back for Game #1.

Kevin Sundher, Rene Hunter and Mraz are all expected to play after ending the regular season on Brandon’s Injury List.

Calgary Hitmen vs Brandon Wheat Kings
Team Record44-25-2-1 -- 91 points39-28-1-4 -- 83 points
Division Ranking2nd Central3rd East
Conference Ranking3rd Eastern6th Eastern
League Ranking6th11th
Past 10 Games8-2-0-07-2-0-1
Home Record22-13-0-119-12-1-4
Away Record22-12-2-020-16-0-0
GF273 273 
GA221 257 
PP (Overall)(67/321) 20.9(75/285) 26.3
PP (Home)(29/168) 17.3(44/155) 28.4
PP (Away)(38/153) 24.8(31/130) 23.8
PK (Overall)(60/315) 81.0(60/260) 76.9
PK (Home)(24/158) 84.8(25/139) 82.0
PK (Away)(36/157) 77.1(35/121) 71.1
Leading RookieRask (33-30-63)Bertaggia (24-26-50)
Most PIMRissling - 124Miller - 139
Team PIM/GM18.4/Game14.4/Game
Leading ScorersBubnick (36-41-77)Stone (41-82-123)
Sylvester (23-45-68)Ferland (47-49-96)
Rask (33-30-63)Walker (26-55-81)
Brassart (25-34-59)Sundher (26-49-75)
Gogolev (25-32-57)Pulock (19-41-60)
Leading After 1st24-4-0-024-4-0-1
Leading After 2nd33-0-0-128-3-1-1
Tied After 1st12-7-1-05-9-1-1
Tied After 2nd6-5-1-08-4-0-2
Trailing After 1st8-14-1-110-15-0-2
Trailing After 2nd5-20-1-03-21-0-1
Out Shooting Opponents29-16-2-120-7-0-1
Out Shot by Opponents13-7-0-015-20-0-3
1-Goal Games12-8-2-114-9-1-4
2-Goal Games9-5-0-07-5-0-0
3-Goal Games11-4-0-010-4-0-0

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