|Tim McGauley (right), Jordan Papirny (left) and Ryley Lindgren |
share a chuckle after Wednesday's practice
The Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Brandon Wheat Kings and Edmonton Oil Kings opens on Thursday night (8:05 p.m., 880 CKLQ).
The Wheat Kings will have their hands full with an Oil Kings’ team that finished atop the Eastern Conference standings, led the Conference in goals and allowed the fewest goals of any team in the Western Hockey League.
However, Brandon is a confident group after the first round sweep of Regina.
“We can’t come into this series that we’re going to lose, obviously,” said Wheat Kings’ centre Tim McGauley after the team’s workout at NAIT Arena on Wednesday, “Of course we’re confident, we think we can take these guys and we’re going to try as hard as we can to take them.”
While the Jayce Hawryluk, John Quenneville and Jesse Gabrielle line keyed Brandon’s offensive attack in the opening round against Regina, McGauley’s line with Richard Nejezchleb and Peter Quenneville was just as important to the Wheat Kings’ success.
Matched up frequently against Regina’s top offensive players in Chandler Stephenson and Morgan Klimchuk, the trio were able to limit that high-scoring duo to just three points at even strength in the series.
Edmonton’s top offensive weapons will prove to be another challenge for McGauley and crew, but one they’re willing to meet.
The Wheat Kings will likely need to pay special attention to Henrik Samuelsson, Phoenix’s first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Samuelsson has been a Brandon killer during his Western Hockey League career, scoring nine goals and 21 points in 13 career games against the Wheat Kings.
It also looks like Brandon may have to deal with an Edmonton team that is getting healthy.
Reid Petryk, Blake Orban and Brandon Baddock all practiced with the Oil Kings on Wednesday and could return to their lineup for Game One.
All three players missed Edmonton’s opening round series against Prince Albert.
Chaff...Brandon went 28-4-1-1 when allowing three or fewer goals during the regular season...the Wheat Kings haven’t won at Rexall Place since December 31, 2009, a span of ten games (regular season and playoffs)...this is the second time the Oil Kings and Wheat Kings have met in the post-season since the WHL returned to Edmonton prior to the 2007-2008 season. Edmonton swept Brandon in four games in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinal series...Oil Kings’ coach Derek Laxdal played with the Wheat Kings for three seasons from 1983 to 1986, scoring 118 goals and 214 points in 181 games.