Thursday, 7 January 2016

Wheat Kings' Lineup Enhanced for Friday's Key Matchup

Ivan Provorov was an interested bystander at the
Wheat Kings' practice on Thursday.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings host the Prince Albert Raiders Friday night in a key East Division matchup (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Brandon has a two-point lead over the second-place Raiders going into Friday's game, and the Wheat Kings will have a much different lineup than they did in their last game Sunday in Calgary.

  Ivan Provorov and John Quenneville are expected to play after returning from the World Junior Hockey Championship, where Provorov helped the Russian team win silver for the second straight year and Quenneville was a member of the Canadian squad that finished in sixth-place.

  "I think it was important that we did well when they left us, and I think adding them back into our lineup will give us confidence as well," said Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny after Thursday's practice, "We're playing good hockey right now, so there'll be nothing but positives with them coming back."

  In addition to Provorov and Quenneville returning, Friday's game will also mark the debuts of Mitch Wheaton and Schael Higson.

  Both defencemen were acquired in a trade with Saskatoon on Monday.

  Ty Lewis is also expected to return to the Brandon lineup Friday after he missed four games with a lower body injury.

  The additions can only be good news for a Wheat Kings' team that is not only battling Prince Albert for top spot in the Division, but also has eyes on first-place in the Eastern Conference.

  "This time of the season, every game is important and every point counts," said Papirny, "When you play a team like Prince Albert, it's obviously even more important but we just need to look at it like any other game and go in with the same mindset."

  The Wheat Kings have lost both head-to-head matchups with the Raiders so far in the 2015-2016 regular season, with the teams slated to meet four more times before the season comes to a close.

  Meanwhile, Ivan Provorov was an interested observer at the Wheat Kings' practice on Thursday.

  Provorov arrived back in Brandon earlier in the day after playing in Tuesday's gold medal game at the World Juniors, a 4-3 overtime loss for the Russian squad to host Finland.

  "I thought we were close, I thought we gave everything that we had.  I think a couple of questionable calls, but it is what it is," said Provorov, "I think we battled hard, we competed, we played until the last second and if we were a little bit more lucky, we probably would have won the game."

  The Philadelphia Flyers' 2015 first round pick had, from all accounts, a great tournament in Helsinki.

  Provorov had eight points, all assists, in seven games while also finishing with a +2 rating.

  "I think I played well.  I tried to do everything I could to help the team win every game," said Provorov, "As a team, we battled hard and we played hard and gave everything that we had so I think that's why he had the result that we had."

  Provorov doesn't think there'll be a great adjustment to get back to the type of game played in the Western Hockey League, and adds he feels okay and should ready to go for Friday's contest.

Chaff...former Wheat Kings' F Quintin Lisoway was released by the QMJHL's Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Wednesday.  He had two goals and three points in 20 games with the Titan.  Lisoway is expected to re-join the MJHL's Steinbach Pistons...Brandon F Jayce Hawryluk will serve the fourth game of his five-game suspension on Friday...the WHL announced Thursday that Elkhorn product Sheldon Kennedy will be presented with the WHL Alumni Achievement Award before the Swift Current Broncos' next home game on Sunday...there were no trades in the WHL on Thursday.  The WHL trade deadline is 1:00 p.m. (CST) on Sunday.

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