Thursday, 22 October 2015

Wheat Kings Start Good, but not Flawless

Macoy Erkamps
  The Brandon Wheat Kings look to run their winning streak to a season-high four games on Friday night when they visit the Tri-City Americans (8:35 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

  The Wheat Kings are 7-1-0-2 through their first ten games of the regular season, an .800 winning percentage that’s tied for the best in the Western Hockey League while the club sits in a tie for second-place overall.

  All-and-all, you’d have to say the Wheat Kings are meeting their pre-season expectations so far but they club still has some work to do.

  “I think we’re happy with our record but not with the way we’ve been playing,” said Brandon captain Macoy Erkamps on Thursday, “It’s not the way we want to go about wins, I don’t think we’re playing up to the capability we are expected to.  I think we have to pick it up in these next few games because good teams are going to take advantage of us.”

  After scoring a league-high 340 goals last season (the most of a WHL team since 1997-98),the Wheat Kings are once again leading the league in goals this year with 50 through ten games.

  They also have a league-low 1.85 goals against average from their two netminders.

  Despite all the early-season success, the club has had some warts including a penalty-kill that currently ranks 20th in the WHL with a 71.4 per cent success rate.

  “Our penalty-kill is good when it’s on and we’re in the right position, but it’s just our mental errors when we’re out there,” said Erkamps, “Somebody gets out of position or somebody goes too far into the corner or something, that’s when we get taken advantange of.  I think we just have to clean it up and be more consistent.”

The Wheat Kings gather around GM/Coach Kelly
McCrimmon during Thursday's practice in Kennewick.
  Erkamps himself is off to an outstanding start to his 2015-2016 season.

  The fifth-year WHLer is currently tied for second in defenceman scoring with 14 points, is second in the league with a +18 rating, and takes a five-game point-scoring streak into Friday’s contest.

  “I think with (Ryan) Pilon leaving, I’ve kind of tried to step into his shoes.  He was an offensive defenceman and created a lot of offence for us,” said Erkamps, who had 31 pointsin 68 games last season, “Being partners with (Ivan Provorov) helps a lot.  I think we work well together on the offensive blueline and we’re getting pucks to the net and creating lots of offence.”

  Provorov, the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, also has 14 points so far this season and leads the WHL with a +19 rating.

Chaff...F Reid Duke and F Linden McCorrister both missed practice for the Wheat Kings Thursday after suffering injuries during Wednesday’s win in Spokane...Jayce Hawryluk takes a seven-game point streak into Friday’s contest...Brandon has lost three straight games to Tri-City and five of the last six head-to-head meetings...Strathclair product Morgan Geekie has one goal and a -2 rating in nine games so far in his rookie season with Tri-City.

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