Thursday, 21 January 2016

Another First-Place Battle Awaits Wheat Kings

Duncan Campbell
  The Brandon Wheat Kings open a three-game in three-day Saskatchewan road trip Friday night when they visit the Prince Albert Raiders (6:35 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

  Friday’s game is a battle of the top two teams in the WHL’s East Division, with the Wheat Kings holding down top spot by a single point over the second-place Raiders.

  Brandon has lost two of three against Prince Albert this season but their lone victory was a decisive 8-1 home-ice win two weeks ago.

 “I think we had a lot of determination, especially with them having beat us quite badly just before Christmas,” said Brandon centre Duncan Campbell on Thursday, “We just came out fast, played with speed and played our game.”

  The Raiders boast the WHL’s second-leading goal scorer in Reid Gardiner, who has scored 29 this season and is the reigning WHL Player of the Week.

  Slowing him down will be one of Brandon’s keys for Friday night.

  “We just have to win our matchups, plain and simple,” said Wheat Kings’ defenceman Jordan Thomson, “He’s a good player but we have a ton of good players on this team as well.  Both teams are going to come in and do what they feel they need to do to win the game.  We’ve stressed a few things this week on how to beat that hockey team and we’ll just put it into action.”

  The Wheat Kings seemingly season-long injury bug continues with three players currently out of the lineup.

  Tanner Kaspick misses his ninth straight game with an upper body injury, Stelio Mattheos misses his fourth in a row with an upper body injury and rookie Connor Gutenberg is out with a lower body injury.

  In addition to Friday’s contest in Prince Albert, Brandon will visit Saskatoon on Saturday and Regina on Sunday.

Chaff...Brandon F Nolan Patrick takes a five-game point streak (5 G, 2 A) into Friday’s contes...the Wheat Kings are 2-8-0-0 in their last ten visits to the Art Hauser Centre...Brandon’s special teams are on an upswing, having gone 6-for-22 on the power-play in their last four games and gone 13-for-16 on the penalty-kill in the last five contests.

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