Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Wheat Kings Prep for Round Two

Jordan Papirny
  The Brandon Wheat Kings have a new challenge ahead of them in the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

  Not only is Brandon facing the team that finished atop the Eastern Conference standings, but the Edmonton Oil Kings have plenty of playoff experience after going to the WHL Final in each of the last two years, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2012.

  The Wheat Kings entered the playoffs without a large amount of post-season experience, and had 13 players make their WHL playoff debuts in their first round series against Regina.

  "I think we really matured.  I think the group has gotten a lot tighter," said goaltender Jordan Papirny after Monday's practice, "Everyone is buying in, and that's playoff hockey.  I like seeing that."

  "We've made steps as a team in the playoffs that would take us months to do in the regular season," added Brandon centre John Quenneville," Even as a team, we're jelling like we hadn't all season.  We're coming together, and it's a great feeling right now."

  The Wheat Kings faced several instances of adversity in the opening round against the Pats, from Eric Roy and Peter Quenneville missed Game Two due to injury; falling behind 4-1 in the first period of Game Three and Jayce Hawryluk's medical situation following Game Three.

  "I think you have to really be prepared before a series starts," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "You can't be prepared for everything, but I think if you understand that there's going to be some things happen that may not be what you anticapting or what you hoped for, it helps you push through some of those situations."

  Brandon will open the Eastern Conference semifinal in Edmonton on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.
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John Quenneville
  The Wheat Kings will have several players 'playing at home' in the series.

Jordan Papirny, Curtis Honey and John and Peter Quenneville are all from Edmonton while Colton Waltz (Vermilion) and Kord Pankewicz (Drayton Valley) are from communities within 200 kilometres of the Northern Alberta city.

  "I play my best when I'm in front of my parents and my family," said John Quenneville, "It's really exciting for me, and it's going to be a good week."

  "It's a good feeling looking up and seeing the Brandon Wheat Kings' logo in the stands, especially when you're playing on the road," added Papirny.

  Papirny and Quenneville are both looking forward to heading back to their hometown, but both also emphasized that they understand that it's a business trip.

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  15-year old Kale Clague practiced with the Wheat Kings on Monday.

  "It's good to be here and I'm excited," said Clague, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft, "If I get my opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it, but other than that I'm just going to work hard in practice and it'll be good experience."

  Clague joined the team after his Lloydminster Bobcats fell to the Red Deer Chiefs in the final of the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

  Clague had 11 goals and 33 points in 31 regular season games with Lloydminster and added two goals and 13 points in 12 playoff games.

  "It's going to be good to see what it's like to play in the WHL playoffs and the intensity that you need to bring every night and see what it takes to win," added Clague, "Hopefully next year I can make the team, and this year will prepare me for next year."

Kale Clague

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