Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Pankewicz 'D'ialing in on Blueline

Kord Pankewicz
  Kord Pankewicz is entering his second season with the Brandon Wheat Kings but, in a lot of ways, he's still a rookie.

  The 17-year old Pankewicz spent the first half of his first season with the Wheat Kings last year playing forward, before switching to defence for the final two months of the season.

  That forced the 5-foot-11, 202 pound product of Drayton Valley, Alberta to learn how to play defence in the WHL on the fly.

  Knowing he'd be starting this year on the blueline meant an entire off-season preparing for it.

  "It was a lot easier.  I worked on my backwards skating a lot more and all the positioning play, instead of a forward," said Pankewicz, "Last season, it was just a mid-season, learn in practice kind of thing."

  "I think going back for pucks was one of them.  Last year was a little more intimidating," added Pankewicz, "I think I got stronger over the off-season so that helps be out a lot and just skating.  I think skating was the biggest thing."

  Pankewicz could have a glass half full to start the 2013-2014 season.

  While he knows he'll be patrolling the blueline, he is also one of seven returning defencemen the Wheat Kings currently have on their pre-season roster, which means he'll still be in a battle for icetime.

  The good news is that with the likes of Ryan Pulock, Eric Roy and Nick Walters on the roster (all of whom are away at NHL camps), he's got plenty of experienced guys to learn from.

  "That helped a lot last year too.  Making the change, and it helps again this year as well.  Having those guys that have played in the league and, potentially, could play in the NHL."

  Pankewicz scored a goal in Brandon's 6-4 pre-season victory in Moose Jaw on Sunday, which was a bit of a milestone goal for him.

  It was his first goal in the Western Hockey League after playing 52 pre-season and regular season games in his rookie season without scoring one.

  Pankewicz and the Wheat Kings will resume their pre-season schedule Friday by hosting the Regina Pats (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff...F Richard Nejezchleb was practicing with the Wheat Kings on Tuesday after playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins at a Prospect Tournament in London, Ontario over the weekend....second-year forward Jayce Hawryluk sat out practice for the second straight day on Tuesday with a minor shoulder ailment.

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