Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Wheat Kings Desperate for Win

Eric Roy practiced on a line with Tim McGauley and
Richard Nejezchleb on Tuesday
  The Brandon Wheat Kings will be out to break a six-game winless streak on Wednesday night when they host the Victoria Royals (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  The old adage is that 'desperate times call for desperate measures'.

  After scoring seven goals in the last six games and having a lengthy injury list, the Wheat Kings could be at that point.

  During practice on Tuesday, fourth-year defenceman Eric Roy practiced as a forward on a line with Tim McGauley and Richard Nejezchleb although it was uncertain if he'll be playing in that spot come puck drop on Wednesday night.

  "I used to play forward when I was a first-year bantam," said Roy after Tuesday's session, "It's (Wheat Kings' GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon's) decision today, he wanted me up front and I just go with what he has to say.  I thought it went well, and it was a lot of fun."

  The Wheat Kings' scoring slump is a surprise in some ways, considering they averaged 3.9 goals per game during their first 54 contests.

  However, injuries that have knocked four of their top offensive forwards out of the lineup lately and their power-play has also dried up, going 1-for-25 over the last six games.

  "The team is going through a dry spell up front," added Roy, "If it takes anything to generate offence, I'll listen to what the coaches have to say and just go out there and play my game."

  Brandon had just two players not participate in practice Tuesday, with leading scorer Jayce Hawryluk (upper body) and Peter Quenneville (lower body) both on the sidelines.

  Quenneville is a new addition to the injury list after being hurt Monday in Regina.

John Quenneville

  John Quenneville (upper body) practiced in a no-contact jersey Tuesday while forward Rihards Bukarts and defenceman Rene Hunter both participated fully in practice.

  Bukarts has missed the last six games with an upper body injury, Hunter the last two.


  Meanwhile, Wednesday's game will be the first for former Wheat King Jack Palmer against Brandon since being dealt to the Royals on November 6th for a pair of fifth round picks in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.

  "It should be interesting.  They've had success this year, and so have we so it should be a good game," said Palmer on Tuesday, "Both teams are pretty strong so I'm pretty excited."

  The deal sent Palmer back to his hometown to play, which was the perfect landing spot if he wasn't going to remain in Brandon.

  "I've thought it before and it's definitely a cool experience playing in front of friends and family and living with my family," added Palmer, "It's great, and having home-cooked meals isn't that bad either."

  Palmer has three goals and eight points in 35 games since joining the Royals in early November.

  Former Wheat King Jordan Fransoo also returns to Brandon for the second time since he was dealt to Victoria as part of the Kevin Sundher deal in January of 2012.

  Fransoo first trip back to Brandon came in just his second game as a Royal on January 14, 2012, Victoria's last visit to the Wheat City.

Chaff...three members of the Wheat Kings wree named in the latest Red Line Report, an independant scoutint review.  John Quenneville was ranked 30th, Jayce Hawryluk was ranked 40th and Rihards Bukarts was ranked 96th for the 2014 NHL Draft...the Canadian Hockey League has signed a 12-year agreement with Sportsnet, giving the sports network broadcast rights for the CHL and the Memorial Cup through 2025-26...Greg Gatto was fired as head coach at the University of Lethbridge on Tuesday after nine seasons on the job.  Gatto, a former Wheat Kings' player, led the Pronghorns to a 7-18-3 record this season.

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