Thursday, 1 May 2014

Historic Day for Wheat Kings

  It'll be a historic day for the Brandon Wheat Kings on Thursday as the club picks first overall in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft for the first time in its 25-year history.

  "The draft is the number one source for getting players to your team, and it's the only way to build your time right now," said Wheat Kings' Director of Scouting Wade Klippenstein on Wednesday, "Some teams try to do it the other way, but truly the best way to build your time and, really, the only way is through the draft."

  The club hasn't made any real indications on who that #1 pick will be, but the smart money is on Winnipeg product Stelio Mattheos, a 6-foot-1, 176 pound forward who had 65 goals and 124 points in 42 regular season and playoffs game this year with the Winnipeg Monarchs.

  "Any time you're in a situation where you have a lottery pick, whether it's one through six, those guys traditionally are franchise guys," added Klippenstein, "Last year, we were very fortunate to get two of those guys so, again here, to add another player is a pivotal time for our franchise and should be exciting for everyone."

  While most of the focus will be on the #1 pick, the Wheat Kings also have their own picks in the second, third and fourth rounds plus two picks in the fifth round and their own in the sixth round.

  Brandon's seventh round pick belongs to the Red Deer Rebels, who acquired it in the Chad Robinson trade back in October of 2012.

  "We hope to come out with the very best player in this draft, but also some other players as move throughout the day," said Klippenstein, "It'll be a very good day for the Brandon Wheat Kings."

  The WHL Bantam Draft begins at 9:30 a.m. (CDT), with the first round streamed LIVE through the WHL website.

Chaff...Defenceman Josh Brook will likely be the top Western Manitoban selected.  The Roblin product, who played at Notre Dame in 2013-2014, is expected to be a Top-10 pick...the WHL doled out its awards Wednesday, with Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice being named the Player of the Year.  Portland's Derrick Pouliot of Top Defenceman, Kelowna's Jordon Cooke the Top Goaltender and Victoria's Dave Lowry the Coach of the Year.  No members of the Wheat Kings were finalists for awards...the league no longer selects WHL All-Stars, so Wheat Kings' captain Ryan Pulock will have to be satisfied with being just an Eastern Conference First-Team All-Star.

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