|Jens Meilleur (in white) returns to Brandon's lineup Friday|
Meilleur has four goals and 12 points in 22 games this season but is also one of the Wheat Kings' alternate captains and brings one of the club's most consistent work ethics.
"I want to be out there to give leadership so the guys on the bench can watch me and follow in my footsteps that way," said Meilleur after Thursday's practice, "Hopefully, I can go out there and work as hard as I can and get rewarded for it."
The return of Meilleur, who was nursing a lower body injury, and captain Ryan Pulock should help a Wheat Kings' club that has lost six in a row and ten of their last 11 games -- not only because of their talents but also because of their leadership and work ethic.
"It's obviously the toughest part, seeing the boys struggle," said Meilleur after Thursday's practice, "It's not easy to watch but I'm pretty pumped up to get into the lineup here this weekend and, hopefully, I can help make a difference out there."
Friday's home game against the Spokane Chiefs (7:35 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place) begins what I believe to be a critical stretch for the Wheat Kings.
Brandon is currently 11th in the Eastern Conference and four points out a playoff spot with six games to go before the Christmas break including four straight on home-ice starting tonight.
"Our division is very tight. We can win a couple of games and jump up to fifth or sixth spot," said Meilleur, "If we can get some key wins here, we can easily jump back into a playoff spot before Christmas."
The Wheat Kings, who are coming off back-to-back dreadful home-ice performances, face two of the WHL's hottest teams this weekend.
Spokane has won four straight to open their East Division road trip and having gone 10-1-1-0 in their last 12 games while Saturday's opponent, Red Deer, having won eight in a row since Brent Sutter took over the heading coaching role from Jesse Wallin.
Chaff...F Tyrel Seaman (suspected concussion), F Tim McGauley (suspected concussion) and F Jack Palmer (upper body) remain on the Wheat Kings' injury list. Palmer skated after practice Thursday for the third consecutive day...the Wheat Kings will honour F Nick Buonassisi for playing his 300th career WHL game during Friday's contest...Friday night's game will also feature the annual Shoppers Mall Teddy Bear Toss, with fans being encouraged to bring items to donate to the Brandon Westman Christmas Cheer Registry...Brandon could announce a roster move soon, possibly as early as Friday.