Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wheat Kings Anxious for Early Season Test

Tim McGauley
  The Brandon Wheat Kings open a weekend doubleheader in Prince Albert on Friday night.

  The Raiders are one of the early season favourites in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference, and were #3 in this week's Canadian Hockey League rankings.

  "It's going to be a real good challenge for us, we're just going to go up there and give it everything we've got," said Brandon centre Tim McGauley after practice on Thursday, "We're 2-and-0 right now to start the season off so this is going to be a really good step to see where we're at in this league."

  Both teams are 2-and-0 to start the season, but most prognosticators have vastly different expectations for the two teams for the 2013-2014 campaign.

  Prince Albert is considered by most to be the clear-cut favourite for the East Division title and be one of the top contenders for the Eastern Conference title while the Wheat Kings are coming off a non-playoff year and are generally viewed as a team that'll be in a battle for a playoff spot.

  "This is going to be a real challenge for us, and it's going to be real fun for us too to know where we're at in this league," added McGauley, "We can't wait to get out there and play these guys."

  The Wheat Kings could get a number of players back from their injury list for the twinbill at Art Hauser Centre.

  Taylor Green (upper body), Rene Hunter (upper body) and Nick Walters (upper body) all practiced without restrictions on Thursday and one, two or all three could be in the lineup this weekend.

  Meanwhile, Wheat Kings' GM and Coach Kelly McCrimmon will have a little personal business to take care of prior to Friday's game in Prince Albert as his older brother Brad will posthumously be inducted into the Raiders' Wall of Honour.

Brad McCrimmon was a member
of the PA Raiders from 1974-1976
  Brad McCrimmon played for the Raiders for two seasons from 1974 to 1976, helping Prince Albert win the first of nine straight Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League titles in 1975-76 and being named the SJHL's Top Defenceman.

  He would go on to play three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1976 to 1979) and 18 seasons in the National Hockey League.

  "It's a nice honour for Brad, and I know our family is really pleased that the Raiders have made the decision to recognize him," said Kelly McCrimmon this week, "Brad played in Prince Albert when they were coached by Terry Simpson.  At that time, they were a member of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and in Junior A hockey circles, the Raiders were one of the top franchises in the country."

  Brad McCrimmon tragically lost his life along with 43 other staff members, players and flight crew when a plane carrying the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed just after takeoff on September 7, 2011.

  By the way, I also produced a video preview for the weekend and posted it on the 880 CKLQ YouTube Channel.

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