Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Confidence Remains High for Wheat Kings

Macoy Erkamps
  After a four-day break, the Brandon Wheat Kings resume their first round playoff series with the Oil Kings Wednesday night in Edmonton (7:40 p.m. CDT, 880 CKLQ).

  The Wheat Kings are down two games to none in the series but remain a confident group despite playing the next three games in Edmonton.

  “One of the biggest things we took out of those two games was what Kelly (McCrimmon) said to us.  He said these two losses can’t bring our team apart, they have to bring us closer together,” said Brandon captain Macoy Erkamps after Tuesday’s practice in Edmonton, “I think that’s what we’ve done the past couple of days after those two losses.  We’re ready to go, and we’re ready to get this first one out of the way.”

  After averaging a league-high 4.38 goals per game during the regular season, Brandon has been held to just three goals in losing first two games of the series including just once in the last five periods...that despite outshooting Edmonton 85-54.

  “I think everybody has just got a little bit more to give, and we’re not far off.  Getting shots through, battling a little harder, getting some shots blocked,” said Brandon forward Reid Duke, “There’s just a few little things that if we pick up on, we’ll be fine.”

Reid Duke
  Increasing their scoring chances might come down to better puck management for the Wheat Kings, especially when it comes to puck placement (ie: dumps or chips entering the offensive zone) during their offensive attack.

  Another concern for the Wheat Kings’ offensively in the opening two games, a usually effective power-play that is 0-for-7 including several opportunities at key times in those two games.

  “Getting the puck to the net and getting bodies to the net is going to be huge for us on our power-play,” said Erkamps, “We haven’t brought enough pucks to the paint and got second chances on this goaltender.  I think that’s one of the keys we’re going to be focused on coming into this game.”

  Brandon’s power-play clicked at a 27.4% success rate in the second half of the season to finish fourth in the WHL at 23.4%.

Chaff...Brandon had the WHL’s second-best road record during the regular season at 23-10-3-0 including a 5-0-2-0 mark in their last seven road games...the Wheat Kings’ roster includes four products of Edmonton and immediate surrounding area in Jordan Papirny, John Quenneville, Mitch Wheaton and Mark Matsuba...Brandon F Garrett Armour was originally chosen by the Oil Kings in the 7th round of the 2012 Bantam Draft but never played a game with Edmonton...D Ian Mitchell, Brandon’s second round pick in the 2014 Bantam Draft, announced via Twitter this week his commitment to Denver University...Sunday (March 27th) marked the 35th anniversary of Dave Chartier’s five-goal, eight-point performance for the Wheat Kings in a playoff game vs. Regina.  Both are still WHL records (tied)...Caiden Daley, Rylan Bettens and the Manitoba champion Winnipeg Wild open the Telus Cup Western Regionals against the Saskatchewan champion Notre Dame Hounds on Thursday in Saskatoon.

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