|Mark Matsuba (left) with Wheat Kings' assistant|
coach David Anning
The Wheat Kings will continue to ice a short-staffed lineup, and could be missing up to seven players Friday including defenceman Colton Waltz, who continues to sit at home while he awaits a trade.
The absence of Waltz and having fellow blueliner Ivan Provorov away at the World Junior Hockey Championship has opened up plenty of ice-time on the Wheat Kings’ blueline.
Second-year defenceman Mark Matsuba is one of those picking up the slack.
“Just trying to stay positive, make use of all my minutes and be as consistent as possible,” said Matsuba after Thursday’s practice in Red Deer, “Just contribute a little more and show the coaches that they can trust me out on the ice.”
Matsuba has played in seven consecutive games going into Brandon’s January 1st contest, notching one assists while registering a +4 rating.
He’s been plus or even in six of the seven contests.
“Playing with different D pairings every game keeps you on edge a bit but it’s really good experience,” added Matsuba.
The Wheat Kings’ injury list will likely go down by one Friday as rookie forward Stelio Mattheos is expected to return after missing nine games with an upper body injury.
Ty Lewis (lower body), Tanner Kaspick (upper body), Jayce Hawryluk (suspension) and John Quenneville (Cdn Jr. Team) will join Provorov as other Brandon players out of the lineup for this weekend.
The Western Hockey League finalized Hawryluk’s suspension at five games on Thursday, meaning the Florida Panthers’ draft pick won’t be eligible to return to Brandon’s lineup until January 15th.
It’s the third suspension of Hawryluk’s WHL career, totalling 12 games.
Chaff...Quenneville finished the four-game round-robin with one goal and one point for Team Canada, with his goal the winning marker in Canada’s 6-1 victory over Denmark on December 28th…Provorov had four assists in four games in the round-robin portion of the tournament, helping Russia to an undefeated record…Brandon F Tyler Coulter will take a ten-game point streak (6 G, 5 A) and a four-game goal streak into Friday’s contest. The point streak is tied for the third longest in the WHL this season…the Wheat Kings will have a pair of affiliate players in their lineup Friday in 2015 first round Bantam Draft pick Caiden Daley and 19-year old defenceman Dominic Thom.