Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Fan Support Drives Wheat Kings' Players

Tanner Kaspick
  You can have a bigger impact on the Wheat Kings' playoff fortunes than you realize.

  The club exceeded 150-thousand fans in the regular season for the third time in franchise history, and saw in increase of just eight per cent from last year.

  Big attendance numbers, obviously, has an impact on the club's bottom line, but it can also have a positive impact on what takes place on the ice.

  "I just feel like the whole city is just captivated by our playoffs, when it comes around," said Brandon product Tanner Kaspick, "This barn gets pretty full, it's loud, it's rowdy, it's a fun atmosphere to play in."

  Brandon averaged just under 3,600 fans per game during the first round last year, and just over 5,000 the rest of the way.

  "Whether it's a big goal, a big kill or even a big save, it's huge to hear the crowd go nuts," added goaltender Jordan Papirny, "I think our arena is pretty unique and allows the fans to be right over top of you...it's really cool and I love playing here."

  The Wheat Kings have a long way to go to capture the 2016 Western Hockey League title, but that doesn't mean the club doesn't have their eye on the prize.

  The Wheat Kings open their first round playoff series against Edmonton Thursday night, looking for the first of 16 wins that'll allow them to claim the Ed Chynoweth Trophy.

  Kaspick says bringing a championship home to the Wheat City for the first time in 20 years would be pretty special.

  "It'd be pretty unbelievable.  Ever since I can remember, I've been watching the Wheat Kings play," said Kaspick, "It's definitely our turn, and that's our expectation is to win a championship and just for the city, to see the whole town get behind us for the playoffs is really inspiring."

  Kaspick is one of six Brandon products on this year's team, making the possibility of a WHL Championship even more special for the group.

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  Who get the first overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft will be decided on Wednesday.

  The Draft Lottery will take place at the WHL office in Calgary at 12:00 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday to determine the first six selections in the first round.

  The six non-playoff teams will be involved in the lottery, with a team only being able to move up a maximum of two spots.

  The Wheat Kings finished second overall in the WHL standings and will have the 20th pick in the first round.

  Portland is still without a first round pick after being disciplined for a violating a number of WHL regulations 3 1/2 years ago.

  The league will also announce the finalists for its's various awards on Wednesday afternoon.

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