Friday, 15 March 2013

Wheat Kings Set for Last Hurrah

The Brandon Wheat Kings gathered for their final practice of the season
on Thursday
The Brandon Wheat Kings close out their Western Hockey League season this weekend with a home-and-home series against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Neither team will be in the WHL playoffs but both teams have a chance to move up in the standings and avoid the dreaded last-place finish.

Brandon would need to sweep both games against Moose Jaw in regulation in order to pass the Warriors and move out of 12th-place.

"It's obviously good to get the four points this weekend, and that's what we're aiming for," said Brandon centre Jason Swyripa after the Wheat Kings' final practice Thursday, "You never want to finish in last, no matter what, so we're going to do whatever we can to try and climb out of it here."

Brandon has played better lately and, curiously, have actually gone 2-2-2-0 since officially being eliminated from playoff contention after winning just one of their previous nine games.

Jason Swyripa
"You always want to put your best out on the ice, no matter what," added Swyripa, "You never know who's watching. Next year, a lot of us are returning and all of us are competing for a spot, no matter what."

It's a guarantee that this weekend will be the final games for Wheat Kings' 20-year olds Tyler Yaworski and Nick Buonassisi but it could also be the final games for several other players, depending on which direction the team heads in the future.

One thing is certain -- not all of the six 19-year old players currently on the roster can return for 2013-2014 as there are only three 20-year old spots available to each WHL team.

"I want to come back, it's what I want to do, I want to be a Wheat King," said Swyripa, one of those six 19-year olds, "My heart's here, I love the town, I love the fans, I love my billet family and everything about this town. My heart is invested in this organization and, hopefully, they see enough in me to bring me back next year."

Chad Robinson, Jens Meilleur, Rene Hunter, Corbin Boes and Marek Kalus would be the other 19-year old players that would be eligible to vye for a 20-year old spot next season.


Meantime, Jesse Gabrielle was fairly happy with his WHL debut. The 15-year old prospect played his first game as a Wheat King on Wednesday night.

"The pace was really high and I didn't know how I was going to do out there but I thought I played all right," said Gabrielle on Thursday, "I didn't get in the minus so I was pretty happy about that. It was a really fun experience and, hopefully, I can get a couple of more (games) in before I leave."

Rookie forward Jayce Hawryluk returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's victory over Prince Albert and should return to Brandon's lineup this weekend.

Chaff...former Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone was return to Binghamton of the AHL by the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Stone was pointless in three games with the Sens during his recall to the NHL...Brandon prospect Jordan Papirny recorded his third shutout in four games Wednesday as SSAC beat Lloydminster 3-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the Best-of-Five Dodge Division Final. Papirny has allowed just one goal in his last 336 minutes of action and has a 1.29 GAA and .955 SPCT during the AMHL playoffs.

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