Friday, 2 November 2012

Wheat Kings Return Home

Eric Roy and the Wheat Kings host Moose Jaw Friday
The Brandon Wheat Kings will play their first home game in nearly three weeks tonight as they entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors (7:35 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Wheat Kings are coming off a road trip that saw them go 2-3-1-1 in seven games, leaving them with a 7-6-2-1 record overall and leaving them in a three-way tie for seventh-place in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

  A couple of issues became very apparent during Brandon's road trip.

The club was outscored 14-3 in the first period and never led after 20 minutes during the trip, so better starts have be near the top of the list as they begin their five-game home stand.

  "I think we just need to feed off the crowd and keep it simple for the first ten minutes," said Brandon defenceman Eric Roy after Thursday's practice, "It's a big momentum booster and, hopefully, we get can some good starts this weekend."

  Brandon has actually only led after the first period three times in 16 games this season, but are 2-0-1-0 when it happens.

Meantime, the other area that needs rapid improvement is special teams, particularly the penalty-kill which was a paltry 22-for-35 (62.9%) durine the road trip and, overall this season, has surrendered a league-high 24 goals and sits dead-last in the WHL with a 68.0% success rate this season.  

Brandon's power-play was also hit-and-miss, going 6-for-30 in the seven games but also giving up a three shorthanded goals.

"I think just keep in simple, and we need to shoot more, definitely, on the power-play," said Roy, "We don't shoot as much as try to make the cute plays. If we keep it simple, hopefully the pucks will start going in."

Brandon could without defenceman Rene Hunter this weekend. He's day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Hunter would join forward Richard Nejezchleb (shoulder, one week) and F Jason Swripa (wrist, indefinite) on the Wheat Kings' injury list.

Chaff...locked out NHLers Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond skated with the Wheat Kings Thursday...the Wheat Kings have set the teams for Sunday's Scotiabank Skills Day with captain Ryan Pulock leading the Black Team and leading scorer Alessio Bertaggia topping the White Team. The Skills Day takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday...Kamloops F J.C. Lipon and Medicine Hat's Cam Lanigan were named WHL Player and Goaltender of the Month respectively on Thursday...opening day action at the Western Canada U16 Hockey Challenge had Saskatchewan beating Manitoba 6-3 and B.C. edging Alberta 4-3 in a shootout.  Wheat Kings' prospect Braylon Shmyr had two goals and an assist for Alberta in that contest.

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