Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Singing the Blues' Praises

Jens Meilleur
  The Brandon Wheat Kings' version of the Blue Man Group was very effective on the opening weekend of the Western Hockey League regular season.

  Taylor Cooper, Jens Meilleur and Quintin Lisoway -- who wear blue jerseys in practice -- combined for five goals, eight points and a very impressive +14 rating in the home-and-home sweep of the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday and Saturday.

  It's that last stat that Meilleur is most proud of.

  "That's what we're going for.  We're trying to be plus players out there.  It all starts in the D Zone," said Meilleur after Tuesday's practice, "If we play good D, we stay structured and the offence is going to come."

  Meilleur had one goal, three points and a +5 rating himself, giving him a great start to the season for the second straight year.

  In 2012-2013, the Elie, Manitoba product had three goals and six points in the first four games of the season, ultimately finishing the year with 11 goals and 23 points in 64 contests.

  "I have to be more consistent this year, that's what I'm looking to do," said the 20-year old, "It starts by playing simple hockey every game, playing in the D zone and taking care of my zone so then I can go and play in the fun zone."

  Brandon's 2-and-0 record to start the season is something positive, but most fans are taking a wait-and-see approach with a team that jumped out to a 4-and-0 start a year ago before limping to a 24-40-4-4 finish.

  However, Meilleur says there's a different feel about the team this September.

  "I think everyone is starting to buy in, and that's the key to our success.  If they're going to play the structure that Kelly (GM/Coach McCrimmon) is teaching us every day, then things will work out for us," said Meilleur, "He doesn't tell us what to do for nothing, the systems we're going to play are going to work for us."

  Brandon is prepping for a weekend doubleheader against the East Division favourites, the Prince Albert Raiders, this Friday and Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.

Chaff...Wheat Kings' captain Ryan Pulock remains with the NHL's New York Islanders.  However, the Grandview product wasn't one of the five rookies practicing with the team's veteran players at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday, which might be an indication that the Isles are preparing to send the blueliner back to Brandon.  Pulock was part of the 'other half' of the Isles' roster that practiced at Iceworks.  The Isles will likely keep Pulock through Sunday, when the team plays a pair of split-squad pre-season games against the Ottawa Senators.

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