Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wheat Kings Look for Bounce Back

Eric Roy
  The Brandon Wheat Kings will try to get back into their second round playoff series with Edmonton on Tuesday night when they host the Oil Kings (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Brandon dropped the opening two games of the Best-of-Seven in Edmonton on Thursday and Saturday of last week, failing to score a goal in the two contests.

  Part of the issue was an 0-for-6 showing on the power-play, dropping the Wheat Kings to 4-for-29 (13.8%) so far in the post-season.

  "I think we just need to start executing.  I think we're trying to do too much, make that pretty play and go back-door and whatnot," said Brandon defenceman Eric Roy after Monday's practice at the Sportsplex in Brandon, "I think if we go back to the basics, what made up second in the league this year, I think we'll be fine."

  It's an interesting special teams matchup, with the Oil Kings finishing second in the WHL during the regular season with a 85.3% success rate on the penalty-kill while Brandon was second in power-play efficiency in the regular season at 25.9%.

  On the other side of the coin, Brandon was 18th in penalty-killing (75.2%) in the regular season while the Oil Kings were 17th in power-play (19.6%).

  So far in the series, Brandon is 12-for-15 on the penalty-kill but have been shorthanded far too often.

  In addition to improving their special teams, a couple of other keys for the Wheat Kings will be to get off to a better start, and find a way to reduce their shots against.

  In both games in Edmonton, the Oil Kings jumped out to a 2-0 leads in the first period while also peppering Brandon netminder Jordan Papirny with 102 shots.

  "I think we just have to bring a big step forward here.  We have to bring our work ethic up a notch, we have to stick to our structure," said veteran Brandon forward Jens Meilleur, "We can't change anything.  We played well enough to get four straight wins against Regina so I think if we get back to playing our regular game, we'll be fine."

  The Wheat Kings remain upbeat despite coming home in a 2-0 hole to the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

  "Obviously, a goal of ours was to win one game there but it's 2-0 coming home, we have the fans behind us now and we've been good at home this year," said Roy, "We have to build off the energy from the fans."

  How many fans might actually be in attendance Tuesday is questionable.

  As of Monday afternoon, only 2,500 tickets had been sold for Game Three.

Chaff...Brandon was 21-12-2-1 on home-ice during the 2013-2014 regular season...the Wheat Kings were 25-7-4-1 when scoring first and 28-11-4-2 when either leading or tied after the first period...G Curtis Honey (finger) remains sidelined for Brandon so prospect Logan Thompson practiced with the team Monday...Kelowna defenceman Damon Severson was named the WHL Player of the Week Monday after scoring three goals and seven points in helping the Rockets win the opening two games of their Western Conference semifinal with Seattle.

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