Friday, 20 May 2016

Thursday Workday for Wheat Kings

John Quenneville, Nolan Patrick (right) and the
Wheat Kings practiced Thursday in Red Deer.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings hit the ice for the first time Thursday at the 2016 Memorial Cup, going through a one-hour practice at the Centrium in Red Deer.

  It was treated as a workday for the Wheat Kings, but one couldn’t help but sense the fact that it was far different from a normal practice day for the hockey club.

  The spotlight that shines on every team at an event of this magnitude was definitely evident during what was the first full day of the Memorial Cup.

  “Every team is going to have to deal with distractions, and every team is going to have to deal with things being different than what we ordinarily experience,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, “I think that what you try to stress is that you have a single focus as you get closer to game day.”

  Brandon, London, Rouyn-Noranda and Red Deer all practiced at the Centrium Thursday, giving each team a chance to see their opponents in person.

  It also sparked some discussion about who might be the favourites going into the tournament.

  “For players, there’s alway that part of them wondering are we better than these guys, are they better than us.  We talked about it before practice, everyone here is good.  Every team here is good, that’s why they’re here, and that includes our own,” added McCrimmon, “We need to worry about making sure that we play as well as we have and as well as we can play.”

  “I don’t think there really is favourites.  That’s all talk,” offered Brandon forward John Quenneville, “There’s three teams that won their leagues, and there’s another team that was a really good team in the Western League.  I don’t think you can pick a favourite.  No one has played hockey here yet so we’ll see.”

  Media availability, more scrutiny, other related events are all a normal part of the Memorial Cup, something only a select few on the Wheat Kings have experienced before.

  However, Brandon appears to be taking it all in stride.

  “It’s a big event and for a lot of the guys, it’s the first time here,” said Roblin product Jayce Hawryluk, “It’s obviously a huge event and we’re super excited and thrilled to be here and anxious to get going.  We’re a little bit nervous and a little bit anxious but that’s expected.”

  For his part, McCrimmon was asked what might be different in his approach to this year’s tournament as opposed to 2010, when it was hosted in Brandon.

  His response was there was a lot less going on for him for this year’s event than there was six years ago.

Chaff...Brandon D Jordan Thomson practiced without restrictions Thursday. Thomson was injured in Game 5 of the WHL Championship Series and had missed practice earlier this week...former Wheat King and Brandon product Glen Hanlon was officially named GM of the WHL's Vancouver Giants on Thursday...former Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone had a goal and two assists to lead Canada past Sweden 6-0 Thursday in quarter-final action at the World Hockey Championship...Ron MacLean, 1995 Memorial Cup MVP Shane Doan and Hockey Canada president Tom Renney were guests at kickoff reception on Thursday night.

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