Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Critical Home Stand Continues for Wheat Kings

Chad Robinson in action during practice Tuesday
The Brandon Wheat Kings will try to make it two in a row when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday night (7:05 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Wheat Kings are coming off a 5-2 win over the Regina Pats on Saturday night -- a game that not only began a seven-game home stand for the club but also marked the first time in ten games they had scored more than two goals in a single contest.

Brandon (19-31-2-2) has 18 games left in the regular season and are currently 11 points behind eighth-place Medicine Hat, which means there's no doubt the team's current home stand is an important stretch for the hockey club.

"If we want to see a playoff position, we need to pick it up here," said Brandon centre Chad Robinson after Tuesday's practice, "I think we took a step on Saturday and we need to continue that going into this week."

One thing Brandon can hang their hat on over the past few games are improved contributions from their special teams.

The Wheat Kings went 3-for-9 with the man advantage in their two weekend games while also scoring a pair of goals just seconds of power-plays ended.

In addition, Brandon's penalty-kill is 18-for-23 (78.3%) in their last eight games.

That's doesn't necessarily put it among the WHL's elite, but it is a marked improvement over their season average of 70.5%.

"The penalty-kill is a huge momentum swing," said Robinson, "Making sure pucks get down the ice 200 feet and playing sound positionally on the penalty-kill is huge."

The Wheat Kings have a bit of a flu bug wafting through the dressing room with goaltender Curtis Honey, defenceman Eric Roy and forward Jens Meilleur all missing practice on Tuesday.

The club has also brought back 16-year old netminder Jordan Papirny from the Alberta Midget ranks and he'll be with the team for the rest of the week.

Chaff...the Columbus Blue Jackets had former Wheat Kings' co-captain Matt Calvert back in their lineup Tuesday night.  Calvert was activated from injured reserve after missing three games with a lower body injury suffered January 28th versus Dallas...former Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone is out of the Binghamton Senators lineup.  Stone suffered a broken finger late last month and is expected to be out of the Baby Sens' lineup for another 6-to-7 weeks.  Stone has eight goals and 19 points in 35 games in Binghamton this season...ex Wheat King Wade Redden played career NHL game #999 on Tuesday night, and is expected to play #1,000 Thursday.

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