Monday, 14 March 2016

Conference Title Within Reach for Wheat Kings

Ivan Provorov (far right) leads the WHL with a +61
rating so far this season.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings have a chance to clinch their second straight Eastern Conference title Tuesday night when they host the Swift Current Broncos (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Thanks to a six-game winning streak, Brandon holds a four-point lead over second-place Lethbridge in the Conference standings entering the final week of the Western Hockey League regular season.

  That means the Wheat Kings need just a single point in their remaining three games to guarantee themselves top spot.

  "It means a lot...it's definitely another milestone reached, another goal of ours that we wanted to hit," said Brandon forward Jayce Hawryluk on Monday, "It's right in front of our face and now we have to go out there and do the work."

  Brandon trailed the front-running Lethbridge Hurricanes by six points on February 1st, but have put themselves in a position for the Conference title thanks to a 14-3-2-0 record in 19 games since including an 8-0-2-0 mark in the last ten contests.

  "It seems like we're a focused group, it seems like we're playing playoff hockey starting now.  It seems like our team is gearing up and it's go time," said Wheat Kings' F John Quenneville, "You can feel it in the air around the rink -- practices, games, it feels like it's time to go."

  Brandon should get Tim McGauley back in their lineup Tuesday after he missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury but Tyler Coulter looks like he'll be out after being injured Saturday.

  That lower body injury will end Coulter's consecutive games played streak at 148.

Chaff...F Connor Gutenberg, who's been out since December 29th, practiced fully on Monday...F Ty Lewis (upper body) and F Linden McCorrister (upper body) both practiced in no-contact jerseys on Monday...Brandon defenceman Ivan Provorov appears to be on the verge of establishing a club record for best +/- in a season.  Provorov leads the WHL at +61, three shy of the 'unofficial' club record of +64, set by current assistant coach Darren Ritchie during the 1994-95 season...Brandon is +734 in shots for/against this season (2,692 for / 1,958 against)...Brandon F Reid Duke played his 250th career WHL game Saturday.  Duke has 180 career points (77 G, 103 A) including 110 points (52 G, 58 A) in 118 career games with Brandon.

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