Monday, 16 December 2013

First Half Review

John Quenneville is one of seven Wheat Kings with 20
or more points so far this season.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings began their 12-day Christmas break on the weekend.

  The club ended the unofficial first half of the Western Hockey League regular season with an 18-14-3-0 record, nine points better than they were through 35 games a year ago.

  Brandon was two games under .500 (9-11-0-0) entering their Remembrance Day game but have gone 9-3-3-0 in their last 15 contest.

  The Wheat Kings have scored 129 goals and surrendered 129 goals in their first 35 games of the season.

  Offensively, they're the second-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference (on a goals-per-game basis) but they're also allowed that same 3.69 goals per game against this season, fourth-worst in the East.

  "We stressed from day one that we need to better week-by-week, month-by-month and you need to be better in the second half than you are in the first half," says Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "We've moved the puck much better out of our end and that's helped us a lot in terms of spending less time in our D Zone.  I think we've grown to be quite a bit more confident with the puck in the offensive zone.  I think we're doing a much better job of having the puck and protecting the puck."

  Defensively, Brandon allowed 77 goals in their first 20 games (3.85 per game) and have cut that number down to 52 in their last 15 contests (3.47 per game), so there's been some improvement in that area.

  It's probably a little more impressive when you also consider that Curtis Honey started just one of those last 15 games with rookie Jordan Papirny having to carry the load in the Brandon net during his two absences.

  Offensively, the goals per game in the last 15 is 4.27 (64 goals) as opposed to 65 in their first 20 games (3.25 per game).

  "We try to stress every night that we begin with work ethic, then structure, then skill.  When we do it that way, then we do have good skill," added McCrimmon, "I think we have guys that are improving and playing well."

  Brandon doesn't have anyone in the top 25 in the WHL scoring race, with top-scorer Jayce Hawryluk tied for 28th with 36 points.

  However, the Wheat Kings are one of only three Eastern Conference teams with at least seven players that have 20 or more points, and Peter Quenneville, who has 15 points in 17 contests, would likely also above that mark if we had joined the Wheat Kings earlier in the season.

  The Wheat Kings are idle until December 27, when they'll entertain the Regina Pats.

  That game will begin a busy post-Christmas schedule for Brandon, during which they'll play five games in seven days and six contests in nine days.

No comments: