Friday, 21 March 2014

Papirny Set to Carry Playoff Mail

Jordan Papirny
  The Brandon Wheat Kings could have as many as 16 players make their Western Hockey League playoff debuts this weekend when they open their Eastern Conference quarter-final series in Regina.

  However, none may be more important that rookie goaltender Jordan Papirny.

  Papirny slowly took over the club's #1 role during the second half of the season, going 11-7-4 after the Christmas break with a 2.94 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.

  Now, the 17-year old Edmonton product is looking forward to the opportunity to perform in the playoffs.

  "Now much is going to change for me.  I think I've really taken some big strides here lately, and gotten a lot of confidence for myself and I'm just going to carry that through to the playoffs," said Papirny this week, "I love the moments when everyone has their eyes on you and the pressure's building."

  Papirny may be short on WHL playoff experience, but has was the playoff MVP in the Alberta Midget Hockey League last season.

  He led the SSAC Athletics into the AMHL Final by compiling a 1.61 GAA and .946 SPCT including a 62-save shutout in a 1-0, quintuple overtime victory over Lloydminster in the North Division Final.

  "I think I got a lot of experience there, playing almost 1,000 minutes last year with South Side.  I think going forward here, the emotion will be the same," said Papirny, "There's always going to be emotional games.  That's what we had last year and, obviously it's a little different, it's a higher level, bigger crowd and there's more at stake, but if I keep that mindset and keep it simple, I'll be doing some good things."

  The Wheat Kings closed out the regular season with back-to-back victories over a Pats team that features some top-end offensive talent, including four 30-goal scorers Chandler Stephenson, Dyson Stevenson, Morgan Klimchuk and Boston Leier.

  "We've played them a lot here lately, so I feel I have a good grasp on their players and their lineup," said Papirny, "I think one thing that could benefit is that's our closest road trip going to Regina.  I think we'll all comfortable playing in that arena, and that goes a long way in the playoffs."

  Papirny will be the first rookie to be Brandon's clear-cut starter going into the playoffs since Tyler Plante in 2005.

Chaff...the Wheat Kings appear to have a healthy lineup going into the post-season, although D Kord Pankewicz missed a second straight day Thursday after taking a puck to the face during Tuesday's practice...the WHL playoffs opened Thursday night with Sam Reinhart having two goals and an assist in Kootenay's 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen in Game One of their Eastern Conference quarter-final...this year's AMHL Final begins Friday and features a pair of Wheat Kings' prospects as Kale Clague and the Lloydminster Bobcats battle T.J. Brown and the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs.  Clague has two goals and ten points in eight playoff games while Brown has one assist in seven post-season contests.

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