Thursday, 4 September 2014

Wheat Kings Set to Open Pre-Season

Stelio
  The Brandon Wheat Kings are expected to dress a rookie-laden lineup when they host the Regina Pats Friday night to open the 2014 pre-season schedule (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Brandon is not expected to dress any of the five skaters headed to NHL Camps next week, which means plenty of icetime for first-year players trying to tighten their grips on a roster spot.

  The Wheat Kings' top three picks in the 2013 Bantam Draft -- Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick -- are all expected to play tonight while the top pick in the 2014 Bantam Draft is also expected to take to the ice.

  Stelio Mattheos practiced with the Wheat Kings this week even though the 15-year old isn't eligible to play full-time in the WHL this season.

  "You have to practice how you play.  I think that's the one thing I've really learned out here," said Mattheos after Thursday's session, "Pass the puck hard, shoot the puck hard, always be awake and have your head into it.  I think those are things I've really learned practicing here."

  It wouldn't be surprising to see Mattheos returned home to Winnipeg following this weekend's action, and the 6-foot-1 1/2, 175 pounder says he has simple goals for the weekend.

  "I just want to play my best out there, make an impression," added Mattheos, "Skate my hardest and try and make a good play every time I get the puck and just try to execute out there."

  Mattheos isn't the only player that'll pull on the Wheat Kings' jersey for an unofficial debut this weekend.
Logan Thompson

  Several first-year players will be doing the same including 17-year old goaltender Logan Thompson, who joined the Wheat Kings in the 2014 post-season but did not see any game action.

  Thompson was a sixth round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft and says he's been waiting for his chance ever since.

  "I've been wanting to play here now for three years and I could play (Friday)," said Thompson, "I'm pretty excited about it and I just get the good practice habits in and get ready for the game, if I get called."

  The Calgary product and fellow Albertan Josh Dechaine are battling for the backup goaltender spot behind Jordan Papirny, who heads off to Montreal's rookie camp next week.

  This is the first weekend of pre-season action for the Wheat Kings and, with that in mind, it'll be a major part of the evaluation process for the club.

  Part of that evaluation is what the players have picked up during the week of practice.

  "Because we only play four (pre-season) games, I think you have to be mindful of working toward your team game," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Thursday, "I think we have to work to have some structure to our game.  We stressed a lot of things with our team since we began practices and we'll look to see how we're coming along in some of those areas."

Chaff...Friday is "Season Ticket Pick-up Day" at the Keystone Centre.  2014-15 Season Ticket holders are encouraged to stop by the White Tent, located in the south parking lot of the Keystone Centre grounds, to pick up their new tickets for the upcoming season.

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