Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Brandon Boys Set for Series

Tanner Kaspick (left), Jordy Stallard (middle) and Duncan Campbell (right) were teammates with the
Brandon AAA Midget Wheat Kings last season.
  The upcoming playoffs series between the Brandon Wheat Kings and Calgary Hitmen will feature plenty of product from the Brandon Minor Hockey system.

  Jordy Stallard is in his rookie season with the Hitmen while the Wheat Kings feature three hometown players in Tanner Kaspick, Duncan Campbell and Tyler Coulter.

  The foursome spent plenty of time playing with each other while growing up, but it'll be all business when the puck drops on Friday night.

  "I'm excited for it.  We're really good friends, we talk a lot and we're obviously going to have to put that friendship aside in this series.  It's a huge series for both of us," said Kaspick after the Wheat Kings' practice on Monday, "No friends on the ice but it'll be cool playing against him, for sure."

  The foursome involved in this series represents 80% of the Brandonites that played fulltime in the WHL during the 2014-15 season, with goaltender Tyson Verhelst of the Spokane Chiefs being the other.

  "I think it speaks very highly of the organization that we have here in Brandon, starting right from the younger levels and developing up," added Duncan Campbell, "There's a lot of opportunity and we have great coaches, we have a great communication, very supportive of everything that you do."

  Of the group, Kaspick and Stallard probably relate a lot more with each other, as both are going through their rookie seasons in the Western Hockey League and spent some time comparing notes during the course of the campaign.

  "It was both our first year in the league so I think we can relate a lot what it's like," said Kaspick, "We're both new to the teams here and we both had a similar path this year.  Really communicating with him, getting advice and bouncing ideas off one another really helped a lot."

  Kaspick notched 18 points in 53 games in his rookie season and scored the overtime winner in Brandon's Game #4 victory in Regina last week, while Stallard had 26 points in 58 games with the Hitmen in the regular season and has an overtime goal among his three playoff markers so far.

  Meanwhile, things are looking somewhat promising for the Wheat Kings on the injury front with Colton Waltz and Rihards Bukarts both full participants in practice on Monday.

  Both players had missed the final three games of the Regina series due to injury.

  Jayce Hawryluk and Reid Duke were the only two players absent from practice Monday, with Hawryluk having missed three games after taking a nasty late-game hit from Regina defenceman Sergey Zborovskiy in Game #2 against the Pats and Duke having left the series-clinching game against Regina on Friday night.

Chaff...the dates for the final three games of the Wheat Kings/Hitmen series likely won't be set until it's a little clearer about the Calgary Flames' potential progress in the Stanley Cup playoffs...Calgary F Chase Lang missed the final three games of the Hitmen's series against Medicine Hat while F Adam Tambellini missed Game #4 but returned to the Calgary lineup for Game #5...rookie D Jake Bean also returned to Calgary's lineup for Game #5 after missing the previous ten games...among starting goaltenders, Brandon's Jordan Papirny leads the WHL with a 1.98 GAA and .938 SPCT in the post-season...only three players remain on the two teams from the last playoff meeting between the Hitmen and Wheat Kings.  Eric Roy with Brandon and Kenton Helgeson and Jake Virtanen of the Hitmen.

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