Monday, 14 April 2014

Wheat Kings Gather One Last Time

Jens Meilleur took to Twitter to express
his gratitude to the Wheat Kings organization
  The Brandon Wheat Kings' season concluded on Friday night.

  Sunday, the 2013-2014 editiion of the team met for the final time.

  It isn't often a team is satisfied when losing out in the playoffs, but a second round exit this season has to be considered a successful one for Brandon considering where the team was at just 12 months ago.

  The Wheat Kings not only missed the playoffs in 2012-2013, but the organization also seemed to have lost its winning culture.

  "Being able to have an effective playoffs and know that doing what I did out there gave my younger teammates playoff experience is going to be huge for the future," said Meilleur on Sunday, "I'm looking forward to see how the boys do next year, that's for sure."

  "I'm happy with what everyone did.  You look at the team last year, and they didn't have much success," added goaltender Jordan Papirny, "For my rookie year to come in and have success on this team is unbelievable for us and it'll give us confidence moving forward."

  Meilleur and fellow 20-year olds Rene Hunter and Chad Robinson played more than 600 games combined in a Wheat Kings' uniform, with their contributions during the 2013-2014 season not only measured by goals and assists.

  "One of the things where they brought a lot of value is we needed to change some things.  We finished in 12th-place last year, we missed the playoffs, so we had things we needed to change and those guys demonstrated a lot of leadership in helping those changes take place.  That's probably the biggest contribution they made to our team," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Friday night, "I told each of them after the game that they should feel real proud of what they did for our team this year.  I think we've got our culture where it needs to be to be poised to win.  The older players are always watched by the younger players, whether they know it or not, how they carry themselves, how they handle themselves,  their work ethic, all of those things are observed every day of the season and I think those three guys really acquainted themselves on our team this year."

  "I remember Day one like it was yesterday, how the organization brought me in and treated me like family right off the hop," added Meilleur, "They do that with all their players, and I think that just what makes this organization first class."  Meilleur obtained his German passport last year and is hoping to use it to play professionally in Germany next season.

Ryan Pilon also took to Twitter to express his
feeling about his first year with the Wheat Kings
  Meanwhile, his teammates are already buzzing about what could be in future years.

  The club is loaded with talented young players who are confident that this year could be the start of something special for the group, if they put in the time and effort.

  "Our team moving forward the next couple of years is going to be awesome.  You can see it out there and in the room.  Everyone is so tight," said Papirny, "The leadership group we had this year was awesome and, moving forward, that's going to carry on with the younger guys."

  Papirny is one of 22 players that finished the season wtih Brandon that are eligible to return next year.

  In addition to the three 20-year olds, captain Ryan Pulock will play professionally next season.

  In fact, Pulock has joined the New York Islanders' farm team and could make his AHL debut on Monday night when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers host Adirondack.

  Meanwhile, defenceman Eric Roy, a fifth round pick of Calgary in 2013, has joined the Flames' AHL farm team in Abbotsford and John Quenneville will play for the Canadian team at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship that begins later this week.

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