Monday, 9 May 2016

Wheat Kings Set for Game Three

John Quenneville
  The Brandon Wheat Kings look to exorcise their Game Three demons Tuesday night when they continue the WHL Championship Series by visiting the Seattle Thunderbirds (8:40 p.m. CDT, 880 CKLQ).

  Brandon has lost five of seven Game Three’s over the last two post-seasons including the last two rounds against the Red Deer Rebels and Moose Jaw Warriors, when they also held two games to none series leads.

  “Bottom line is you have to match the desperation and urgency of your opponent,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Monday, “If we were going back to Brandon down 2-0 in a series, I’d have complete confidence we were going to play our best game.  We have to understand that’s going to be Seattle’s mindset.”

  “We have to play do-or-die hockey, regardless of what the score in the series is.  These games are so huge, so pivotal, these are the games we look to play in,” added Brandon forward John Quenneville, who's fourth all-time in playoff scoring in Wheat Kings' history, “We need to put all our eggs in our basket for every single game and worry about that night specifically and that’s what we have to do for Game Three.”

  One thing that is obviously changing heading into Game Three is the venue, with the Thunderbirds having gone a combined 35-6-3-0 in 44 games at the ShoWare Center this season.

  Being on home-ice will also give Seattle the last change, which might prompt T-Birds head coach Steve Konawalchuk to try for a different matchup for his top offensive players.

  Mathew Barzal, Keegan Kolesar and Ryan Gropp, the Thunderbirds’ top three scoring forwards in the regular season, were held to one goal and four points in the opening two games of the series.
 
  In fact, the Thunderbirds scored just one even-strength goal in the opening two games.

  “We didn’t hard match against Seattle, we didn’t want to take our team out of the game in terms of the tempo of the game.  We don’t have a guy that plays as much as Matt Barzel plays so we had to share that responsibility,” said McCrimmon, “Probably ¾’s of the time it was Tim McGauley and 25 per cent of the time it was Nolan Patrick in terms of what we did when we had last change. They’ll have that opportunity to play him where they want but I think if we’re playing, we’ll be fine.”

  One thing the Wheat Kings are sure to continue to try to do is get their top defence pairing of Ivan Provorov and Macoy Erkamps out against Barzal as often as possible.

  Brandon will also look to get their power-play going.

  The club went 1-for-10 in the first two games after going just 2-for-17 in the Eastern Conference Final against Red Deer.

  “For us, it’s all about getting pucks on the net.  If you see some of the goals that we score, it’s around the net, traffic and making it hard on the other team’s goalie and the other team’s players,” said Quenneville, “It’s tough to play around the net and, for us, it means getting to the net and getting pucks to the net.”

  The Wheat Kings will also be looking to continue to get strong play from goaltender Jordan Papirny, who’s stopped 68 of 74 shots so far in the series.

Chaff...Brandon F Tanner Kaspick was named the WHL Player of the Week on Monday while Papirny was the WHL nominee for the CHL’s Goaltender of the Week award...the NHL announced Monday that Kaspick and Brandon D Kale Clague are among the 114 players invited to their Scouting Combine in Buffalo from May 30 to June 4.  Brandon product Jordy Stallard (Calgary Hitmen) and Wheat Kings’ draft picks Ryan Lindgren, Joey Anderson and Wade Allison were also invited to attend...Seattle Seahawks’ punter Jon Ryan will drop the ceremonial opening faceoff before Game Three.  Ryan is a Regina product that has said in the past he tried out for three WHL teams growing up, including the Wheat Kings when he was 18.

 

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