Thursday, 15 January 2015

Wheat Kings Look to Build on Home-Ice Record

Colton Waltz
The Brandon Wheat Kings put the Western Hockey League's best home-ice record on the line Friday night as they entertain the Lethbridge Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  The Wheat Kings are 15-3-3-0 at home this season for a .786 winning percentage, and have won all seven home games against Central Division opponents this season.

  "I think work ethic is the biggest thing.  We come out here and we usually have a good start against most teams and are able to get up a couple," said Brandon defenceman Colton Waltz on Thursday, "Lately, the defensive side of our game has been improving a lot and that's been a big part of it too."

  The Wheat Kings have scored first in 14 of their 21 home games this season, and have only trailed through 40 minutes in three home games this season.

  Defensively, Brandon has improved by 1/2 a goal per game so far in the second half.

  After allowing an average of 3.31 goals per game in their first 35 contest, Brandon has allowed 2.77 goals per game in nine games since the Christmas break.

  "It's definitely something since the Christmas break that has improved," said Waltz, "I also think offensively, just keeping pucks down low in the other team's end is cancelling out some of their odd-man rushes against us and less scoring chances against."

  Friday's game is also the first for former Wheat Kings Ryley Lindgren and Kord Pankewicz back in Brandon since being dealt to the Hurricanes as part of a six-player trade in late September.

  "Great teammates that all the boys are friends with," said Waltz, "We look forward to seeing them and having a great game against Lethbridge."

  Lindgren will be playing his fifth game since returning from a 21-game absence due to a broken leg suffered against the Wheat Kings in Lethbridge on October 31st and is still looking for his first goal as a Hurricanes while Pankewicz has 18 points in 31 games since joining the Hurricanes including one goal and seven assists in eight games since Lethbridge's Christmas break.

Chaff...Brandon will honour import defenceman Ivan Provorov prior to Friday's contest in his first game at home since helping Russia to a silver medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship...Brandon was #3 for the third straight week in the CHL Top-10 rankings released on Wednesday...two Wheat Kings are looking for century milestones Friday with Morgan Klimchuk one goal shy of 100 for his WHL career and Ryan Pilon one point shy of 100.

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