Thursday, 27 November 2014

Matsuba's On-the-Job Training Continues

Mark Matsuba
  Mark Matsuba has been getting some on-the-job training over the past three weeks.

  After suiting up for just two of the Wheat Kings first 15 regular season games, the rookie defenceman has been in the lineup for eight of the past ten contests.

  "In practice you can have game-type scenerios but there's nothing like having an opposing player barrelling down on you when you're on the blueline," said Matsuba earlier this week, "It's definitely something that can't be simulated so it's really nice to get those reps in games."

  Matsuba and fellow rookie blueliner Mark Taraschuk have been the beneficiaries of an unfortunate chain of events to allow them to see a lot of action in November.

  First, it was an injury to Ryan Pilon in late October that caused him to miss four games and, currently, it's an injury to fellow rookie blueliner Kale Clague that's opened up a spot in the lineup on a regular basis.

  However, the Wheat Kings haven't simply been alternating the two 17-year olds in the lineup, choosing instead to play them for several consecutive games as long as they do the job and perform up to their capabilities.

  "Definitely gives us that couple of games back-to-back that allows us to get into more of a rhythm, I think," said Matsuba, "It builds a lot more chemistry with the guys as well.  I think that's another big part of playing in more games."

  Matsuba has one goal in ten games this season, scoring in his WHL debut back on October 3rd versus Tri-City, and the St. Albert, Alberta product has yet to be a minus player in any of the ten games he's dressed for.

  The 6-foot-0, 187 pound Matsuba seems to have a calm demeanor on the ice but he says that hasn't always been the case.

  "Back in Pee Wee, I used to be a lot more offensive and there wasn't too many consequences," said Matsuba, "Being in the Western League, it's definitely amplified a lot more.  I like to focus more on being a defensive defenceman and then when an opportunity does present itself to be a little bit more offensive, I like to jump at the chance."

  Matsuba and the Wheat Kings are on the road for a two-game Saskatchewan road trip this weekend, visiting the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night and the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night.

Chaff...the Wheat Kings held steady at #4 in this week's CHL rankings...rookie F Ty Lewis, who's missed the entire season with an upper body injury, practiced in a no-contact jersey on Thursday...the Edmonton Oil Kings have been fined $250 for a warm-up violation before the game in Brandon last Saturday...among those taking in Thursday's practice at Westman Place was former Wheat Kings' head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk.

No comments: