Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Pankewicz's Transition to D Work in Progress

Kord Pankewicz
It's only been four games but Brandon Wheat Kings' rookie Kord Pankewicz is feeling good about his transition from forward to defence.

Pankewicz made the move following the Western Hockey League trade deadline on January 10th -- something the club had been anticipating since selecting Pankewicz 11th overall in the 2011 Bantam Draft.

The Wheat Kings had always felt Pankewicz lied on the blueline but the club's depth there at the start of the season forced the 16-year old to start the year up front.

That changed when the club released Ryley Miller on January 8th and assigned Riley Van Horne in the AJHL on January 10th.

"That's where I like to play, and that's where I grew up playing in my younger years...it's what I like," said Pankewicz after Brandon's practice on Monday, "I haven't played 'D' since my bantam years. It's hard to transition but you have to work on your tight turns, your gap. Those are the main things, I think, and everything else comes second nature."

The trial by fire for Pankewicz had had decent returns to far, with the Drayton Valley, Alberta product going pointless with an even plus-minus in four games so far.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable each game. Saskatoon is a top-end team, and Prince Albert is good and I felt good against those teams," said the 5-foot-10, 190 pound Pankewicz, "I need to work a little bit on my 'D' zone and on my gap control."

The Wheat Kings will be looking for a fourth win in five games on Tuesday night when they host the Saskatoon Blades (7:05 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Blades are currently holding down eighth-place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, nine points ahead of the Wheat Kings.

It could be a thinned out Brandon lineup for Tuesday's contest. Jens Meilleir and John Quenneville both missed practice Monday with lower body injuries and forward Jayce Hawryluk left midway through practice after suffering what appeared to be a head injury.

That threesome could join Ryan Pulock (wrist), Richard Nejezchleb (hand/thumb) and Tyrel Seaman (concussion) on the sidelines.

Chaff...Tuesday's game is former Wheat King Michael Ferland's first trip back to Brandon since being dealt by the Wheat Kings to Saskatoon on January 10th...Brandon netminders Corbin Boes and Curtis Honey have a combined 1.97 goals against average and .937 save percentage in the last four games...Tuesday's game will be the 150th in the WHL for Brandon defenceman Nick Walters...former Wheat King Alessio Bertaggia was not in the Spokane lineup for the second straight game Monday, and will likely be sidelined for at least another 7-10 days with a shoulder injury.

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