Thursday, 10 March 2016

Plenty for Play For Over Last Five Games

Schael Higson (in black) hasn't played in the playoffs
in five years.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings already have the East Division title under their belt, but the club has plenty of other things on their mind as they go into the final nine days of the Western Hockey League’s regular season.

  Brandon plays their final road game of the season Friday in Saskatoon, and then will have four straight home games to close out the season starting with Saturday’s return match against the Blades.

  The Wheat Kings a four-game winning streak into Friday’s contest, and have points in eight straight games (6-0-2).

  That might be a good omen for a team that is less than two weeks from opening the playoffs.

  “I think we’re right on par here.  Guys are really firing into the back of the net,” said Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny earlier this week, “Our top players are really contributing, and our depth players are really contributing too so it’s all hands on deck.”

  Papirny said that clinching the East Division pennant is an accomplishment the team is proud of, but they do have other goals in mind over the next nine days.

  Chief among them is the Eastern Conference title, and the 100-point mark is also in their sights.

  He feels having something important to play for down the stretch is a good thing for the team.

  “It brings out the best in us,” said Papirny, “It keeps our habits and the way we play really solid heading into playoffs.”

  The East Division title might be a little ‘old hat’ for veteran players like Papirny, but it’s meaningful to a lot of the first-year Wheat Kings.

  Particularly for defenceman Schael Higson, who was acquired by Brandon from Saskatoon as part of a four-player trade in early January.

  “It’s a pretty great feeling.  I haven’t been part of a playoff for about five years now,” said Higson, “Knowing that we’re not only going to the playoffs but we’ve clinched our division is a pretty big deal.”

  The Wheat Kings announced Thursday that they’ll open their first round series on home-ice on Easter weekend.

  Games #1 and #2 of the Best-of-Seven series will be on Thursday, March 24th and Friday, March 25th (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Tickets for those opening two games went on sale Friday (March 11th) at the Keystone Centre box office.

  Playoff ticket packages will be available for pickup at the Wheat Kings’ office starting on March 21st.

Chaff...Brandon re-entered the Canadian Hockey League’s Top-10 rankings this week, checking in at the #10 spot...Wheat Kings’ prospect Hunter Arps, a fifth round pick in 2014, was named the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Goalie MVP and a first-team all-star earlier this week...Tyler Coulter takes a 15-game point-scoring streak into Friday’s game, while seven other Brandon players have point-scoring streak of four or more games...the Blades are clinging to their playoff hopes, with their next loss or Edmonton’s next win officially eliminating them from the playoff race...the Hurricanes have a home-and-home series with Red Deer this weekend, starting Friday in Lethbridge.

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