|The Wheat Kings held a brief practice in Kelowna on Sunday.|
The club faces the tough task of playing the next three games on the road at Prospera Place in Kelowna, but this is Brandon team that tied a franchise record with 26 road wins during the regular season and are 5-2 on the road in the playoffs.
“We’re a pretty confident group in there, especially on the road. We had a pretty good road record coming into the playoffs so we just have to play our game,” said Brandon defenceman Macoy Erkamps after the Wheat Kings’ workout in Kelowna on Sunday, “Game #3 is huge. We’re hoping to come out with the ‘W’ and make it a 2-1 series. The odds are against us again but it puts us in a better position.”
The Wheat Kings remain confident thanks, in large part, to how they finished Game #2 on Saturday.
Brandon poured 33 shots on Kelowna netminder Jackson Whistle over the final 40 minutes of that contest, and feel that if they continue to do the same, they’ll get the end result they’re looking for.
“I think that last game just showed that we can played up to their level, and better,” said Erkamps, the lone B.C. product on Brandon’s roster, “I think all the guys realize that so that’s why we also have confidence in our game with that last game and I think coming into this, that’s huge.”
In order for Brandon to get at least the two victories they need this week to send the series back to Brandon for a possible Game #6 on Sunday, they’ll need to find a way to be better 5-on-5 in their own zone.
The Rockets had
large amounts of offensive zone time during the opening two games of the
series, and cutting that back will be one of the keys to Brandon’s success.
“I think they’re really good at finding guys in the middle of the ice, finding late guys coming through and we have to stop in the zone and break up passes,” added Erkamps, “We also have to pin guys in the corner and stop the cycle and if we do that, we’ll be okay.”
The Rockets have outscored the Wheat Kings 6-3 at even strength in the opening two games of the series.
The odds are stacked against Brandon but history says coming back from the 0-2 deficit is possible.
The last time a team dropped the first two games of the WHL Final at home and came back to claim Ed Chynoweth Cup was 2000, when the Kootenay Ice lost the first two in Cranbrook and then won four in a row over the Spokane Chiefs.
Game #3 goes Monday night at Prospera Place, with puck drop at 9:08 p.m. (CDT) and the pre-game show on 880 CKLQ beginning at 8:35 p.m.
Chaff...F Reid Duke, who’s missed seven straight games, practiced on a line with John Quenneville and Rihards Bukarts Sunday, which could signal the possibility of him returning to Brandon’s lineup for Game #3...Brandon F Jayce Hawryluk is a combined -6 in the series, putting up -3 in each of the first two games, while Brandon’s top defence pair of Ryan Pilon and Ivan Provorov are a combined -7...the two teams, media and WHL office staff shared a charter flight Sunday morning, arriving in Kelowna around 10:30 a.m. local time.