Friday, 19 September 2014

Young Guns Set to Start Rookie Seasons

16-yaer olds Nolan Patrick (left) and Kale Clague
open their rookie WHL seasons on Friday.
  The Wheat Kings' 'young guns' will open their rookie seasons in the Western Hockey League Friday night when Brandon plays host to the Regina Pats to begin the regular season (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Nolan Patrick and Kale Clague have been highly touted prospects since being chosen fourth and sixth overall in the 2013 Bantam Draft.

  Both players might be helped by being on a fairly deep Wheat Kings' team that returns 18 players from last year's squad including, potentially, 12 forwards.

  "I want to be an impact guy but as a 16-year old, it's tough to do," said Patrick after Thursday's practice, "I'm just going to play my game and, hopefully, things go well."

  "If I stick to the way I can play I think I can live up to it, but I'm not really worried about that," added Clague, "I'm just worried about playing my game and hopefully all will go well."

  Both players got their feet wet in the WHL a year ago, with Clague dressing for the first two games of the regular season and three playoff games last spring while Patrick played three regular season and all nine post-season games with Brandon last year.

  Patrick led the Wheat Kings in pre-season scoring with two goals and seven points in four games while Clague had a pair of power-play goals, three points and a +1 rating in the pre-season.

  "I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with my surroundings now, after those four pre-season games, and I'm really excited to get things going especially with it being my first full season in the WHL," said Clague, "I'm excited to get things rolling with the great group of guys they have here."

  The Wheat Kings do have forwards John Quenneville (New Jersey), Jayce Hawryluk (Florida) and Richard Nejezchleb (NY Rangers) away at NHL camps to begin the season so Patrick will likely see more icetime Friday night that he may see on other nights during the regular season while Clague was paired with three-year veteran Colton Waltz this week.

  2013 second round pick Tanner Kaspick and third round selection Ty Lewis are also with the team to start the season, although Lewis is sidelined until at least mid-October after breaking his arm during training camp.

  It's the first time in 15 years that Brandon had at least four 16-year olds on their roster to start the season.

  Jordin Tootoo, Mark Ardelan, Travis Young and Brett Dickie all broke camp with the Wheat Kings to start the 1999-2000 season.

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