Saturday, 2 May 2015

Wheat Kings Relish Chance to Reach WHL Final

John Quenneville
  The Brandon Wheat Kings will be looking to advance to the Western Hockey League's Championship Series on Friday night when they host the Calgary Hitmen in Game #5 of the Eastern Conference Final.

  The Wheat Kings hold a three games to one lead in a series that has been Brandon win a pair of blowout games, and two other low-scoring affairs that have gone to overtime and the club's have split.

  John Quenneville leads Brandon with eight points in the series against Calgary (4 G, 4 A), and the New Jersey Devils' 2014 first round pick believe that when they are playing at their best, they are dictating the pace of the game including puck possession.

  "It's all about having the puck.  When you have the puck, you're trying to get into the offensive zone," said Quenneville after Brandon's optional practice on Thursday, "When you're dominating play, you have the puck and you have the puck in the other team's zone so that's what we want to try and do.  If we can get the puck down low and work it on the cycle, that's key for us and that's what we try to do."

  After key for Brandon in the series has been special teams, where the Wheat Kings are 6-for-17 (35.3%) on the power-play in the first four games and have scored some key goals at key times with the man advantage.

  Among them was a Jayce Hawryluk goal just over six minutes into the second period in Game #4 on Wednesday that broke a 1-1 tie and gave Brandon their first lead of the contest.

  "When you get a chance to go on the power-play like that, everybody realize that it's a huge opportunity for us...especially when we know we can do some damage on the power-play," said Quenneville, "We know what we can do and it's time to strike at that point."

  The Wheat Kings penalty-kill has also been strong, going 14-for-17 (82.4%) in this series and killing at an 84.2% success rate in 14 playoff games this spring.

  Brandon is expected another sellout crowd at Westman Communications Group Place for Game #5 Friday as they club tries to advance to the WHL Final for the first time since 2005.

Chaff...D Kale Clague, F Tanner Kaspick and F Reid Duke all skated after Brandon's regular practice Thursday as the trio try to work their way back from injuries...Calgary will have F Jake Virtanen back in their lineup for Game #5 after he finished serving his three-game suspension on Wednesday night...Brandon has won 11 straight games when having the opportunity to eliminate a team from the WHL playoffs...after being +4 in Game #4 Wednesday, Brandon D Eric Roy is now tied for the WHL lead at +11 for the playoffs...if you missed it because of the scheduling delay, a possible Game #6 would take place in Calgary on Sunday, with a 5:08 p.m. (CDT) faceoff time.

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