Thursday, 30 October 2014

Wheat Kings Well Represented at U17's

Kale Clague (left), Nolan Patrick (center) and Tanner Kaspick
are at the U17's for the next ten days
  The Brandon Wheat Kings are well represented at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that begins this weekend in Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario.
  Brandon top three picks in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, 16-year olds Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick, are suiting up for Canada at the eight-team tournament.
  Patrick is playing with the Canada-Red team while Clague played with Canada-Black and Kaspick with Canada-White.
  “Being teammates for the last two months here, it’s going to be weird going there and playing against them and being rivals with them,” said Kaspick earlier this week, “Hopefully, my experience ends up being a little bit better than theirs.”
  Among Kaspick’s teammates on the Canada-White team will be Oakbank product Brett Howden of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
  The duo being two of the four Manitobans at the event, with Patrick and fellow Winnipeg product Ryan Kubic the others.
  “I’ve played a lot of hockey with Brett growing up, and I’m actually really good friends with him,” said Kaspick, “It’s going to be nice to get a chance to play with him again, it’ll probably be one of the last chance I’ll get to play with him for the rest of my life.”
  The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is the first event in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, a program that quite likely culminates in being part of Canada’s entry into the World Junior Hockey Championship.
  Dreaming that far ahead is something Kaspick has already done.
  “When you’re growing up, that’s what you’re watching – you’re watching the World Juniors with the family after Christmas and stuff.  I think that’s always been the dream, and this kind of leads into it,” said Kaspick, who has four assists in nine games with Brandon this season, “That makes it that much more exciting, just to wear the Maple Leaf like you’ve seen it worn by so many great players, I think is really exciting and one of the main things I’m looking forward to.”
  The tournament doesn’t officially begin until Sunday but all three Canadian teams will play exhibition games on Friday night.
  This year marks the first time the tournament won't take place just after Christmas, and also marks the first time the Canadian entries will be done in Black, Red and White teams instead of regionalized teams like Team Western or Team Pacific.
  A fourth member of the Wheat Kings, Ty Lewis, attended Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Summer Development Camp in August but was not selected to participate in the tournament.
  Lewis likely wouldn’t have been able to anyway, as the 16-year old remains sidelined with a broken arm that he suffered during training camp and then re-injured during his rehabilitation.

Erkamps Set for Return to Lethbridge

Macoy Erkamps

  It’s a return to a place they called home for several seasons for two members of the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night.
  Macoy Erkamps and Reid Duke will face Lethbridge for the first time since being acquired by the Wheat Kings from the Hurricanes as part of a six-player trade on September 30th.
  Brandon also got prospect Tak Anholt in the deal while sending a trio of 18-year olds to Lethbridge in F Ryley Lindgren, F Brett Kitt and D Kord Pankewicz.
  “I’m pretty excited but pretty nervous at the same time,”said Erkamps on Thursday after the Wheat Kings arrived in Lethbridge after a lengthy bus trip from Vancouver, “I like the guys on that time and wish them all the best, but we’re playing against them so I’m hoping we’ll pull out a win.”
  Erkamps and Duke aren’t the first former Hurricanes to return to Lethbridge as a member of the Wheat Kings in the last year.
  Defenceman Ryan Pilon was booed as hard as any Wheat Kings’ player in recent memory in Brandon’s two visits to Lethbridge last season after leaving the ‘Canes and requesting a trade than eventually landed him in the a Wheat Kings’ uniform.
  “He got it pretty hard, but I’m just going in there and I’m going to play my game,” said Erkamps, “If I get the some treatment, then oh well.  I hope I don’t, but we’ll see at game time, I guess.”
  Erkamps may have to take on a little extra responsibility this weekend as Pilon is expected to miss at least the next two games after suffering an upper body injury Wednesday in Vancouver.
  Pilon had 18 points in 15 games and a +11 rating while playing on Brandon’s top defence pairing with import Ivan Provorov.
  His absence will leave a void that Erkamps hopes to partially fill.
  “With Pilon being hurt and everything, it might give me some more ice but I’m not expecting anything,” said Erkamps, who has seven points (all assists) and a +5 rating in 12 games with the Wheat Kings,“I’m still just easing my way in, playing with younger guys and I’m just trying to be a leader and a role model for them, help them improve and stuff but also helping my game improve.”
  In recent games, Erkamps was paired with 16-year old Kale Clague while he took spins beside rookies Mark Taraschuk and Mark Matsuba in Wednesday’s 5-2 victory in Vancouver.
Michael Ferland could make NHL debut Friday
Chaff...the Pilon injury coupled with Brandon’s import situation and 16-year olds Nolan Patrick, Kale Clage and Tanner Kaspick being away at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge means the Wheat Kings could dress fewer than the maximum of 18 skaters for Friday’s game in Lethbridge...Brandon’s 12-3-1-0 record in the fastest the team has hit 12 wins since starting the 1997-98 season with a 12-3-1 mark...the Moose Jaw Warriors announced Thursday that former Wheat King Taylor Green has decided to move on from the Warriors and the WHL and focus on his education...Brandon product and former Wheat King Michael Ferland was recalled by the Calgary Flames Thursday and could make his NHL debut Friday when the Flames host Nashville.

Wheat Kings Grab Conference Lead

Tyler Coulter scored twice in Wednesday's win
  Tyler Coulter scored twice and John Quenneville had a goal and two assists to pace the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.

  Ryan Pilon and Jesse Gabrielle also scored for the Wheat Kings as they moved into sole possession of first-place in the Eastern Conference.
  “I do feel that our guys have clear expectations of what their goal is, they want to finish as high in the standings as we can,” said Wheat Kings’ GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “One things I’m encouraged about now that we’re finished here in Vancouver is that we finished 4-1-0-0 in B.C. on this road trip.”
  On Wednesday night, Brandon and Vancouver were tied 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes as Tyler Coulter and Joel Hamilton exchanged goals, with Hamilton’s coming on a Giants’ power-play.
  The Wheat Kings took control of the contest by scoring three unanswered second period goals to grab a 4-1 lead, outshooting the Giants 13-6 in the middle frame.
  “I thought we had the puck deep in the Vancouver zone a lot more, which is something we’re trying to do more of.  As a result, it gave momentum which carried it’s way through from line-to-line,” said McCrimmon, “We were able to build on our lead, and that was the difference in the hockey game.”
  Quenneville expanded Brandon’s lead to 5-1 in the third period before Hamilton finished the scoring for the night with his second power-play goal of the contest.
  The two goals by Coulter gives the 18-year old Brandon product eight on the season, good for third on the team in goals.
  “Tyler’s always had the ability to play either wing, and he’s able to play on any line,” said McCrimmon, “Those guys that are easy to play with become even more valuable because it makes them more versatile and able to be used in a lot of different situations.”
  Jordan Papirny made 30 saves in the Brandon net while the Vancouver duo of Payton Lee and Cody Porter combined for 33 saves.
  Brandon (12-3-1-0) will continue their seven-game road trip with a pair of games in Alberta this weekend, visiting the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday and the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.
Chaff...D Ryan Pilon left the game in the third period and did not return...Brandon scratched leading scorer Rihards Bukarts for the second straight game in favour of Richard Nejezchleb in the club’s import situation...also sitting for Brandon was Ty Lewis (upper body) while Nolan Patrick, Tanner Kaspick and Kale Clague are all away at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge...Brandon killed off just one of three Vancouver power-play chances, and are now 16-for-27 (59.3%) in the last seven games.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wheat Kings Slip Past Royals

Duncan Campbell (middle) celebrates his 2nd period goal with teammates
Braylon Shmyr (right) and Tyler Coulter (Photo by Jon Howe)
  Ryan Pilon’s goal with 8:24 left in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and lifted the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 3-2 win over the Victoria Royals on Tuesday night.

  Richard Nejezchleb scored in his season debut for Brandon while Duncan Campbell had the other Wheat Kings’ goal, his fourth of the season.
  Pilon also had an assist on Nejezchleb’s first period power-play goal and is tied for the league-lead in defenceman scoring in the Western Hockey League with 18 points including nine power-play assists.
  “I think it’s more than just his offensive game, I think he’s taken a real step as a player period,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “I think he’s been more involved in our leadership, has had more ownership of the team.  He’s formed a great pairing for (Ivan) Provorov, and I think they’d be quick to credit each other on how well they’ve played as a pair.”
  Provorov had two assists Tuesday and is second among rookies in the WHL and tied for third among all defenceman in scoring with 16 points.
  Tuesday’s game was the tale of two contests, with the teams combining for 34 shots in the first period when Victoria’s Travis Brown and Nejezchleb traded power-play goals.
  The teams combined for 23 shots the rest of the way, with Jordan Papirny finishing with 23 saves in the Brandon net and Coleman Volrath stopping 29 shots for Victoria.
  “That’s life on the road is things go along and teams get playing at a higher level, you just don’t see the higher scores that we’ve been fortunate enough to have on the road,” said McCrimmon, “It’s hard for our guys to embrace the fact that a lot of wins on the road are going to be 3-2...give our guys credit, when we took the lead I didn’t think we gave up a lot of chances after.”
  It was the first time this season Brandon had recorded a one-goal victory, and the first time the club had scored fewer than four goals in a win.
  The victory coupled with Medicine Hat’s 5-3 loss in Red Deer Tuesday leaves Brandon (11-3-1-0) tied with the Tigers for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
  The Wheat Kings have a chance to take over sole possession of first-place when they visit the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday (8:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).
Chaff...with Nejezchleb making his season debut, the Wheat Kings scratched top scorer Rihards Bukarts to balance their import situation...Brandon also sat F Tanner Kaspick, D Mark Matsuba and D Mark Taraschuk (all healthy) and F Ty Lewis (upper body)...Tuesday’s game was the final one for a couple of weeks for Brandon rookies Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick, who all leave Wednesday morning for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Provorov to Suit Up for Team Russia

Ivan Provorov in action during Monday's practice in Victoria
  It is now official, the Brandon Wheat Kings will be represented on both side of the ice at next month’s Subway Super Series.
  Import defenceman Ivan Provorov  has been informed that he’s been chosen to play for the Russian Selects for games against Team WHL on November 10th in Saskatoon and November 11th in Brandon.
  “It’s always great to play for your country.  It’s a great experience to play with and be one of the best players on your country at that age,” said Provorov,  who also played with Russia at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship this past April, “And to play against Canada, one of the best country’s in all the world in hockey, it’s always great.”
   Provorov also played some exhibition games with Russia as part of the exhibition series involving Canada, the Czech Republic and Russia at Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp in August.
  Much like Team WHL players will be hoping to impress Hockey Canada in hopes of getting invited to the final evaluation camp for this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship, Provorov is hoping to do the same for his country’s hockey brass during the Super Series.
  “I think it’s the same way.  Coach wants to give everybody the opportunity to show themselves,” said Provorov, “It just depends how I do.”
  Most countries prefer older players for the World Junior Championship, and Provorov feels Russia is no different so his opportunity to play on the grandest stage in junior hockey may have to wait.
  What won’t have to wait is his audition for pro hockey.
  The 6-foot-0, 200 pound Provorov already has NHL scouts taking notice, so much so that he’s considered a possible first round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
  “It’s a long term goal but I just try to go game-by-game,” said Provorov, “Focus on each game and do everything I can to help the team and play my best every game.”
  Provorov’s rookie season in the Western Hockey League is off to a great start, with the 17-year old product of Yaroslavl scored seven goals and 14 points in the first 14 games of the season while also registering a +12 rating.
  Provorov ranks second in rookie scoring, fourth in defenceman scoring and tops in defencemen goals fo far this season.
Chaff...Brandon plays the ‘hump’ game of their seven-game road trip Tuesday night when they visit the Victoria Royals (8:35 p.m., 880 CKLQ)...F Richard Nejezchleb skated on a line with Peter Quenneville and Tim McGauley in practice Monday, perhaps forecasting that he’ll make his season debut with the Wheat Kings Tuesday after serving his two-game suspension on the weekend...if Nejezchleb plays Tuesday, it would relegate Brandon’s leading scorer Rihards Bukarts to spectator status...Tuesday’s game is the final one for 16-year olds Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick before they head to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario.