Thursday, 27 August 2015

Whaet Kings have Busy Summer with Hockey Canada

  It was a busy summer for several members of the Brandon Wheat Kings with Hockey Canada including GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon.

  McCrimmon is involved in the Program of Excellence for the first time in a coaching capacity, and was elevated to an assistant coaching role for Canada's national junior team in June after originally being named head coach for the Under-18 team for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament that took place earlier this month.

  The Summer Development Camp in early August was McCrimmon's first chance to get an 'inside look' at Hockey Canada's World Junior operation.

  "It's amazing to watch how detailed, how organized the level of resources that they put behind those teams and those players is really neat to see," said McCrimmon this week, "You can always take away from those settings and learn things for your own organization."

  McCrimmon also feels that working with Hockey Canada coaching staff, including head coach Dave Lowry, will also help him develop even further as a coach.

  "To be with a staff like has been assembled for the World Junior team, working with the best players, the elite level players, I think is great experience and great opportunity and I really found it enjoyable," said McCrimmon.

  McCrimmon's responsibilities with the World Junior team will take him away from the Wheat Kings for about a month beginning in early December.

  How the Wheat Kings' coaching responsibilities will shake out in his absence hasn't been discussed specifically, but McCrimmon feels the club will be good hands with assistant coaches David Anning and Darren Ritchie while he's away from the team.

  While McCrimmon had his stint with Hockey Canada, two of the Wheat Kings' players were on the ice at the Summer Development Camp in Jayce Hawryluk and John Quenneville.

  Of course, Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick helped Canada's Under-18 team win gold at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament earlier this month while three Wheat Kings' prospects took part in the Under-17 camp in Stelio Mattheos, Ian Mitchell and Jarrod Gourley. player who won't be at Wheat Kings' camp when it opens next week is Dylan Thiessen.  Brandon's fifth round pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft has committed to the NCAA's Mercyhurst Lakers beginning with the 2017-2018 season...Boissevain product Meyer Nell has decided not to return to the Red Deer Rebels for a third season and is headed off to the University of Manitoba.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Season Tickets, Imports, Training Camp Addressed

Kelly McCrimmon speaks during Tuesday's media reception
  The Brandon Wheat Kings covered several different topics during a 'media reception' on Tuesday afternoon.

  The club will open training camp on September 2nd, with camp to include 19 players that finished last season with the Wheat Kings.

  "It really feels like its time to get to the rink," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "I know our players are back in town and they're anxious to get skating and get on the ice for camp.  Guys have high expectations for the season, they're anxious to get started and I would say I feel the same way."

  Three of the Wheat Kings' four import players will be at training camp in newcomer Dario Winkler and returnees Ivan Provorov and Rihards Bukarts.

  Flames' prospect Oliver Kylington is not expected to attend camp and will report directly to Calgary.

  Of course, Brandon can only have two import players on their roster when all is said and done but there's a lot of uncertainly surrounding all of them except Winkler.

  Provorov was the seventh overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2015 NHL Draft and signed with the Flyers during the summer and could, at the very least, begin the season in the NHL.

  "We hope he's back, I think it would be the right place for him to be but they'll be other people that make that decision," said McCrimmon,"Partly Ivan based on his play and Philadelphia, as a signed player with their organization, are going to make that decision ultimately."

  Provorov would have to be in the NHL or with the Wheat Kings this season, but the situation with Kylington is much cloudier.

  The Swede could play with the Flames, with one of Calgary's minor league affiliates or with the Wheat Kings this coming year.

  Bukarts could potentially play minor pro as well but could also return to the Wheat Kings.

  However, as a 20-year old player and an import, he wouldn't be guaranteed a spot on the Wheat Kings.

  There's no doubt that Brandon's import situation will be well-watched over the next few weeks.

  "It really could be a lot of different combinations," said McCrimmon, "I'm not putting a lot of time into sorting that our because we don't have all the information at our fingertips that we're going to need to make those decisions."

  Bukarts is one of ten members of the Wheat Kings headed to an NHL camp next month.

  The Latvian joins teammates Colton Waltz and Jordan Papirny with Oilers' prospects while two other undrafted Wheat Kings are also headed to camps in Macoy Erkamps (St. Louis) and Tim McGauley (Washington).

  The five drafted players headed off are Provorov (Philadelphia), Ryan Pilon (NY Islanders), John Quenneville (New Jersey), Jayce Hawryluk (Florida) and Reid Duke (Minnesota).

  Off the ice, the Wheat Kings also announced Tuesday that they've surpassed the 2,000 mark in season tickets sold for this coming season.

  That puts the club ahead of last year's pace, when they ended up with about 2,400 season tickets sold.

  Brandon's season ticket base has steadily declined since peaking prior to the Memorial Cup host season in 2009-2010.

  "We're on the right path, we are moving up.  We're trying to get back to those levels and, certainlly 2,500 is a realistic goal at this point," said McCrimmon, "That's what you want to start to build with and then your walkup traffic is a big part of the crowd for any team.  Our experience in the past is the higher our base has been, it translates into bigger numbers overall.

  The Wheat Kings averaged 3,895 fans per game during the regular season last year and 4,778 during their ten home games in the playoffs.

Tentative Training Camp Schedule

Rookie Camp

Tuesday, September 1st

Wednesday, September 2nd
Team White practice, 8:30 a.m.
Team Gold practice, 10 a.m.
Team White vs. Team Gold, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 3rd
Team White vs. Team Gold, 10 a.m.
Team White vs Team Gold, 6 p.m.

Main Camp

Friday, September 4th
Team White practice, 8 a.m.
Goaltenders session, 9:30 a.m.
Team Gold Practice, 10:30 a.m.
Team White vs. Team Gold, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 5th
Team White vs. Team Gold, 9:30 a.m.
Intrasquad Scrimmage, 6 p.m.

Sunday, September 6th
Annual Intrasquad Game, 2 p.m.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Wheat Kings' Trio Golden at Hlinka Tournament

  Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick had their golden moment on Saturday.

  The Brandon Wheat Kings' trio helped Canada capture the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic, beating Sweden 7-3 in the championship final.

  Patrick finished the tournament with two goals, five points and the shootout winner in Canada's semifinal win over Russia.

  Kaspick had a goal in Saturday's final and finished with two points in Canada's five games while Clague had one goal and two points in five games.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hawryluk, Wheat Kings at Hockey Canada Camps

Jayce Hawryluk is one of several members of the Wheat Kings'
organization attending Hockey Canada Camps over the next few days.
  The Canadian National Junior Team’s Summer Development Camp gets underway this weekend in Calgary.

  It’s the second go-round at the camp for Brandon Wheat Kings’ forward Jayce Hawryluk as he tries to make a solid impression to begin his last season of eligibility to play at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

  “I’m definitely a lot more comfortable than I was last year.  I’ve been to this camp, I know what its about,” said Hawryluk earlier this week at the Wheat Kings’ Hockey School, “I kind of got my feet under me last year and I think that’ll just help me a lot going into this year and I think being older and more mature has helped me too.”

  The Roblin product is joined on the 40-player roster for the camp by Wheat Kings’ teammate John Quenneville and Elkhorn product Travis Sanheim of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

  Wheat Kings’ GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon will also have one of the sets of watchful eyes as an assistant coach to head man Dave Lowry for the Canadian Junior team this season.

  “Come this camp, it’s a whole other world.  The way I play in Brandon is not going to be the way I’d play for Canada at the World Juniors,” said Hawryluk, “I’d be a totally different player come that tournament for these guys.  Whatever they want me to do is what I’m going to do…the role I have to play is whatever they want me to do.”

  The camp is part of another busy summer for Hawryluk, who attended his second Development Camp with the NHL’s Florida Panthers earlier this month.

  Hawryluk was a second round pick of Florida in the 2014 NHL Draft, and after being a little awestruck in his first go-round with the Panthers last July, this month’s camp was a little more businesslike for him.

  “You just know what to expect.  You’re just so much more comfortable, you’ve met the whole staff, you’ve met everyone so it was just so much fun,” said Hawryluk, “I enjoyed my time while I was in Florida and had a great time.”

  Hawryluk has yet to sign with the Panthers could a big on his entry-level contract could come at some point in the next few weeks.

  The National Junior Team’s camp not only includes practices for Team Red and Team White, but the two squads will also be playing exhibition games against the Russian and Czech Republic junior teams next week.

  The Junior Team camp isn’t the only one being put on my Hockey Canada in Calgary this week as the Under-18 and Under-17 Camps are already underway.

  Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick of the Wheat Kings are participating in the Under-18 Camp as they try to secure a spot on the Canadian team for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August while Wheat Kings’ prospects Stelio Mattheos, Ian Mitchell and Jarrod Gourley are participating in the Under-17 camp that’ll help determine the three rosters for Canada’s teams for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this fall.

NHLers Instructing at BWK Hockey School

The Wheat Kings' Hockey School is taking place this week at
Westman Communications Group Place
  Among the guest instructors at this week's Brandon Wheat Kings' Hockey School are Calgary Flames' forward Michael Ferland and Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Matt Calvert.

  Ferland has had an interesting few months.

  He became a cult hero in Central Alberta during the Flames' 2015 playoffs, particularly during their first round victory against Vancouver when he racked up a team-high 40 hits along with two goals and two assists.

  "I'm just trying to keep everything calm and not get too high and not get too low," said Ferland this week, "Just try to keep it as normal as I can.  The attention is nice, but it's not going to change who I am."

  Ferland also recently had a civil lawsuit dropped stemming from an incident outside an Alberta nightclub nearly three years ago.

  That means for the first time in his pro career, the 23-year old can simply concentrate on preparing for the upcoming season.

  "It's good.  It's nice to have it going with nothing hanging over my head," said Ferland, "Just having a good summer and looking forward to camp."

  The one thing Ferland will need to get out of the way first is a new contract.

  He became a restricted free agent on July 1st after his three-year, entry-level deal expired.

  Ferland did not file for arbitration, so there's no deadline for his next contract.

  A new contract isn't something Matt Calvert needs to worry about any more.

  He signed a new three-year, 6.6 million dollar deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this month.

  "It's definitely exciting and very comfortable too," said Calvert, "This is going to be my sixth year as a professional and I've been lucky enough to spend it with the same team.  It's going to be a big year, we made some  big moves this summer and the team is committed to winning so I know the boys are going to show up...we have a little bit to prove after last year."

  Among the new additions for the Blue Jackets is Stanley Cup winning forward Brandon Saad, who was acquried from the Chicago Blackhawks.

  Saad joins what Calvert considers to be a young but now experienced core of players with the Jackets.

  "Our team has kind of grown together.  We were one of the youngest teams two years ago and now we're kind of getting into mid-age, that core of the Blue Jackets," said Calvert, "We've been there (the playoffs) once and that was two years ago.  We were disappointed with our season last year and that's our main goal is to get to playoffs and after that, you never know what can happen."

  Calvert had 13 goals and 23 points in 56 games last season, and has 42 goals and 86 points in 209 career NHL games.

  The Wheat Kings' Hockey School continues at Westman Communications Group Place through Friday.