Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Odds and Ends

Tyrel Seaman has played one game since
November 25 because of back-to-back
concussions.
The Wheat Kings could be a lot healthier by the time they play their next game on Friday night.  Kevin Sundher, Tyrel Seaman and Jason Swyripa all practiced in non-contact jerseys on Tuesday.

Sundher (concussion) has missed the last six games, Seaman (concussion) has missed the last 27 games and 36 of the last 37 and Swyripa (leg) has missed four in a row and five of the last six contests.

Dylan Kuczek was wearing a sling as he watched practice Tuesday so I don't think I'm stretching it to say he's got a shoulder injury while goaltender Brandon Anderson sat out Tuesday's practice with illness.

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Former Brandon Wheat Kings' captain Keith Aulie is officially back in the NHL. 

Tampa Bay recalled Aulie from the AHL's Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday, and he's expected to make his Lightning debut Friday night when they host the New York Rangers. 

Tampa Bay acquired Aulie from Toronto during NHL trade deadline day on Monday.

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If you didn't see the piece Michael Farber produced for TSN on former Brandon Wheat Kings Jordin Tootoo and aired on Tuesday night, you can click here to watch it on the TSN website.

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Interesting thread on eBrandon about the ongoing lease negotiations between the Keystone Centre and the Wheat Kings.

Certainly a lot of differing opinions out there, but I find the argument about the Wheat Kings' 'sweet deal' from 1997 a little tiresome.

Whether it was a 'sweet deal' at the time should have nothing to do with the current negotiations.  The upcoming lease should reflect the current economic situation, not try to make up the last 15 years.

Plus, IMHO, the list of Keystone Centre 'sweet deals' doesn't only have one name on it.

Thoughts, Prayers and Support for Dutiaume, Lowes Families

Another reminder for the extended Brandon Wheat Kings' family about how precious life can be.

Todd Dutiaume's wife Kelly died in childbirth earlier this week along with their twin babies.

The Scottish Sun story on the tragedy is here.

Dutiaume played with the Wheat Kings from 1991 to 1993, and has been playing with the Fife Flyers in Scotland for the past 13 years.

The couple already had a daughter, Olivia, who is 3.

The club's Facebook page has been flooded with messages of condolence and it's expected a donate button will be added to the Flyers website later today.

The website address http://www.fifeflyers.co.uk/

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Meanwhile, Shelley Lowes, the wife of longtime Wheat Kings' coach Bob Lowes, has undergone surgery in Regina after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The family is maintaining a blog entitled We can...with love! throughout.  Bob provided an update on the latest news last night.


As you go through your day today, remember to send your thoughts, prayers and support to the Dutiaume and Lowes families.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brandon Picks Up Another Home-Ice Win

Brenden Walker and the Wheat Kings kept close
tabs on Lane Scheidl at the Pats Saturday
The Brandon Wheat Kings won for the sixth time in seven games Saturday night, defeating the Regina Pats 2-1 in a shootout.

Paul Ciarelli scored the lone goal in regulation for Brandon while Mark Stone scored the only goal of the shootout as the Wheat Kings won in the circus for the second straight night.

The club had ended a 12-game shootout losing streak Friday with a 3-2 win over Swift Current.

Saturday's game was a tight-checking, defensive contest throughout with Corbin Boes making 23 saves in the Brandon net and stopping all three Regina attempts in the shootout.

"This year, we've worked on our D-Zone a lot and I think it's finally coming together," said Brandon defenceman Ryan Pulock on CKLQ's post-game show, "It's definitely key for the D-Zone that we're getting some key saves as well."

Jake Rodewald scored the Pats' only goal 1:51 into the first period while Ciarelli's marker tied the game at 15:40 of the opening frame.

Brandon held Regina's 100-point man Jordan Weal off the scoresheet, leaving the Pats' forward with just one point, a goal, in four games against the Wheat Kings this season.

"He's definitely a good player, and we know that so you always have to know where he is," said Pulock, "I think the biggest part is you have to be strong on him. He's a bit of a smaller guy so you have to get good body position on him, it's hard for him to go around us."

Saturday's game was the Wheat Kings' final one for February, with the club finishing with a 9-2-0-1 record while outscoring their opposition 46-30 in the process.

Brandon remains one point behind the seventh-place Pats but also just four points out of fourth-place in the Eastern Conference.

The Wheat Kings are idle until Friday, when they'll conclude their six-game home stand by hosting the Lethbridge Hurricances.

Chaff...Mark Stone's point-scoring streak ended at 13 games on Saturday night...Brodie Melnychuk played career game #310 on Saturday, moving him past current Pats' Director of Scouting Dale McMullin and into a tie with Aaron Goldade for fourth-place in the Wheat Kings' all-time list...Brandon's penalty-kill was 3-for-3 Saturday and is a perfect 13-for-13 over the last six games...the 24 shots against marked the firsts time since January 18th the Wheat Kings had held an opponent under 30 shots, a span of 17 straight games...attendance Saturday was 4,065, leaving Brandon with an average of 4,057 through 31 home games. That's down 219 fans per game from last season's average attendance.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Brandon Lineup vs Regina (February 25, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 13. Alessio Bertaggia
22. Dominick Favreau - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek - 23. Tim McGauley - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- the Wheat Kings dress the same lineup as they did for Friday's shootout victory over Swift Current with one exception. Brandon Anderson, who missed Friday's game with illness, is back in the lineup and will backup Wheat Kings' starter Corbin Boes.

- Kevin Sundher (concussion), Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and Jason Swyripa (leg) are all scratched for Brandon tonight while the Pats will be without captain Brandon Davidson (neck/head?) for the third straight game.

- Jordan Weal might be an obvious choice as the Pats' MVP this season but goaltender Matt Hewitt might only be millimetres behind. Hewitt leads the WHL in minutes played, sports a 30-18-5 on the season with a 2.66 GAA and .908 SPCT on the season and, in the month of February, is 6-3 with a 2.15 GAA and .923 SPCT.

- Speaking of Weal, his four-point game Friday pushed him to 100 points on the season - the fourth WHL player to hit that mark this year. Weal has just one point (a goal) in three games against Brandon this season so the Wheat Kings have done a pretty good job on keeping him off the scoresheet.

- The seventh-place Pats are two points ahead of the eighth-place Wheat Kings going into tonight's game. The two clubs will get very familiar with one another over the next three weeks, playing five times in the next 22 days including tonight's matchup.

Shootout Drought Ends for Wheat Kings

Corbin Boes made 35 saves Friday night
The Brandon Wheat Kings picked up their first shootout win in over two years Friday night, defeating the Swift Current Broncos 3-2.

The Wheat Kings entered the game just 1-for-11 in shootout attempts this season but Mark Stone and Eric Roy scored on the club's first two chances Friday and Corbin Boes stopped both Swift Current shooters as Brandon won a game decided by a shootout for the first time since January 15, 2010 -- snapping a string of 12 straight shootout losses.

"First period there, it was really quiet, just five of six shots against," said Brandon goaltender Corbin Boes on CKLQ's post-game show, "I think I did a good job of keeping my focus throughout the game and giving the guys a chance to win."

The game was goalless through 40 minutes before Brad Hoban opened the scoring 4:53 into the third period.

Rookie Ayrton Nikkel converted a sweet goal mouth pass from Bruno Mraz just over three minutes later to tie the contest 1-1, and then a power-play goal from Mark Stone with just under four minutes left in the third period gave Brandon their first lead of the game.

The Broncos tied it with 1:03 left in regulation when Hoban tipped a Richard Nedomlel point shot past Boes for his second of the game.

"For the most part, I think our team did a good job keeping shots to the outside," said Boes, who finished with 35 saves including 28 in the second and third periods combined, "They got a few chances late there but I guess part of my job is to make some of the saves and give our team a chance to win."

The victory leaves Brandon with an 8-1-0-1 record in their last ten games but still in eighth-place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Regina and three behind Saskatoon.

The Wheat Kings will host the Pats on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff...Mark Stone now has point in 14 straight games, notching 30 points in that span (8 G, 22 A)...Stone has 105 points on the season and is one point behind Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans in the WHL scoring race after Friday's games...the Wheat Kings were 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill Friday and are 10-for-10 over the last five games, the first time this season they've gone five straight games without surrendering a power-play goal...the Minnesota Wild activated Brandon product Carson McMillan from IR on Friday and assigned him to the Houston Aeros (AHL).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brandon Lineup vs Swift Current (February 24, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
35. Curtis Honey

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 13. Alessio Bertaggia
22. Dominick Favreau - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek - 23. Tim McGauley - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- the Brandon Wheat Kings scratch G Brandon Anderson (unknown), F Kevin Sundher (concussion), F Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and F Jason Swyripa (leg). The addition to Tim McGauley does allow the Wheat Kings to dress 18 skaters for the first time since the February 12th game in Medicine Hat (5 Games).

- Brandon enters Friday's contest sitting eighth in the WHL's Eastern Conference, two points behind seventh-place Regina. The Pats host Moose Jaw tonight before travelling to Brandon for a matchup with the Wheat Kings tomorrow night.

- The Wheat Kings' specialty teams have been hot lately. The penalty-kill is 9-for-9 in the last four games, the first time this season the team has gone four straight games without surrendering a power-play goal. Brandon's own power-play is 10-for-32 (31.3%) in 10 games so far in February.

- Swift Current has been hit the injury bug as well, perhaps more than the Wheat Kings. Adam Lowry (wrist) has been out for the entire second half but could return in the next two weeks. D Jordan Evans (concussion) has missed virtually the entire season while F Christian Magnus (concussion) hasn't played since being hit by Brandon's Michael Ferland the last time these two teams met on February 10th. F Shea Howorko and D Erik Fleming are also out because of injury tonight.

- Despite Brandon's 5-1-0-1 record against the Broncos this season, all seven games have been hotly contested. Swift Current's power-play has scored nine times on 23 chances versus the Wheat Kings this season and is ranked fourth overall in the WHL.

Wheat Kings Add McGauley for Rest of Season

Tim McGauley (File Photo)
The Brandon Wheat Kings are bringing in a reenforcement for the rest of the season.

Tim McGauley will join the team on Friday and expected to be in the Wheat Kings' lineup for Friday's game against Swift Current.

McGauley's season with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League ended last weekend.

The 16-year old finished tenth in league scoring with 29 goals and 53 points in 41 games.

McGauley is also pointless in five games with Brandon this season -- the first two games of the season and three games as an affiliate player just after Christmas.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ferland 'Ready to Go' This Weekend

Michael Ferland (File Photo)
It looks like Michael Ferland will be in the Brandon Wheat Kings lineup Friday night when they host the Swift Current Broncos (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Ferland left Brandon's game Tuesday against the Kootenay Ice with a suspected head injury but practiced without restrictions on Thursday.

"I feel great," said Ferland, "I wasn't feeling too good during Tuesday's game but I'm feeling 100 per cent and ready to go this weekend."

Ferland is second on the team and ninth in the WHL in scoring with 40 goals and 83 points in 58 games.

The news was also positive for a couple of other injured Wheat Kings.

Kevin Sundher and Tyrel Seaman both skated before practice Thursday as they try to make their way back from concussions.

Sundher has missed the last four games while Seaman has missed the last 25 contests and 34 of the last 35 games.

Jason Swyripa (leg) did not practice Thursday and it appears he'll sit for the third straight game and fourth time in the last five.

Wheat Kings, Keystone Centre Negotiations Continue

Negotiations on a new lease between the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Keystone Centre are ongoing.

The hockey club's 15-year lease is set to expire at the end of May.

Keystone Centre general manager Neil Thomson said he was optimistic they'd reach a deal, though he expects it to be much shorter than the last that was signed in 1997.

Thomson was a guest of Bill Turner on 880 CKLQ's Feedback program on Wednesday and despite the Wheat Kings being the building's primary tenant, the issue was talked about for less than a minute...

video

As you can hear, there was no music playing but it certainly sounded like there was a lot of dancing going on in that discussion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wheat Kings' Shootout Drought Continues

Brandon captain Mark Stone gets checked out on the
bench after being elbowed in the face during Tuesday's
game with Kootenay
Jesse Ismond scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Kootenay Ice defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The loss snapped Brandon's four-game winning streak but give the Wheat Kings some credit for rallying for two goals in the final 3:08 including Dominick Favreau's second goal of the game with just 13 seconds left in regulation.

"It's good to get that single point, being down 4-2 with seven minutes remaining," said Brandon defenceman Eric Roy on CKLQ's post-game show, "It's always good to come back and feel good about yourself and get that point."

The Wheat Kings welcomed Alessio Bertaggia back to the lineup after a four-game absence due to a concussion but still dressed one skater under the limit and the club saw their second-leading scorer, Michael Ferland, leave the game in the first period with what appeared to be a head injury.

Being shortstaffed and playing their sixth game in ten days was a prevalent theme throughout CKLQ's post-game show.

"Overall, I thought the guys worked very hard," said Brandon coach Cory Clouston, "We've played a lot of hockey over a short period of time and we're very short-staffed right now."

Brandon has now collected 15 of a possible 18 points over their last nine games (7-1-0-1) and Tuesday's single point moved the Wheat Kings into a tie with Regina for seventh-place in the WHL's Eastern Conference, though the Pats do have two games in hand.

"I think just doing the little things. Keeping that third forward high, getting pucks in, shooting a lot and the forwards are really helping us out a lot more in the defensive zone," added Roy,who scored a power-play goal with 3:08 left to help spur Brandon's comeback, "Our defensive zone has gotten a lot better and, hopefully, we can keep it going."

Dylan Kuczek also scored for Brandon, the first goal of WHL career, while Brandon Anderson stopped 30 shots in the Wheat Kings' net and four of five shooters in the circus.

Sam Reinhart had a pair of goals for Kootenay with Max Reinhart and Joe Antilla also scoring for the Ice.

MacKenzie Skapski stopped 34 shots in the Kootenay goal and all five Brandon attempts in the shootout.

Chaff...the Wheat Kings have lost 12 straight shootout games, with their last shootout victory coming on January 15, 2010...Brandon players are now 1-for-11 in shootout attempts this season...Mark Stone had a pair of assists to run his point-scoring streak to 13 games and increase his league-leading point total to 104. That's two more than Portland's Ty Rattie and Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans...the Wheat Kings will host an Ultimate Fan contest today at 5 p.m. at the BMO Bank of Montreal branch on Rosser Avenue in Brandon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brandon Lineup vs Kootenay (February 21, 2012)

Goaltenders
33. Brandon Anderson
1. Corbin Boes

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 13. Alessio Bertaggia
22. Dominick Favreau - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- the Wheat Kings scratch G Curtis Honey (healthy), F Kevin Sundher (concussion), F Jason Swyripa (lower body) and F Tyrel Seaman (concussion) for tonight's tilt with the Kootenay Ice.

- Alessio Bertaggia returns to the Brandon lineup after missing four games with a concussion while Brandon Anderson will get the start in goal for the Wheat Kings.

- Anderson and Corbin Boes have combined for a 2.38 GAA and .931 SPCT over the last eight games, seven of which have been Brandon victories.

- Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone takes a 12-game point scoring streak (7 G, 20 A) into tonight's game and has 102 points on the season, two more than Portland's Ty Rattie in the WHL scoring race.

- A Brandon victory tonight would move the Wheat Kings past Regina and into seventh-place in the WHL's Eastern Confernce. The Pats would have two games in hand.

- Kootenay captain Drew Czerwonka is expected to miss the next 4 - 6 weeks with a knee injury, while rookie defenceman Jeff Hubic sits tonight after being given a one-game suspension by the WHL.

- Rookie MacKenzie Skapski starts in goal for the Ice. He's made 15 appearances for Kootenay this season and started for the Ice the last time they visited Brandon on January 21st, a 7-3 Kootenay victory.

Wheat Kings Look to Continue Rolling

Brenden Walker
The Brandon Wheat Kings try to run their winning streak to a season high five games Tuesday night when they entertain the Kootenay Ice (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Wheat Kings' have won seven of their last eight games and have been led over the past two weeks by the line of Mark Stone, Michael Ferland and Brenden Walker, who have combined for 22 goals and 54 points in that span.

"We're just playing good all-around the ice there, and good defensively and that's what's causing us to get a lot of opportunities in the offensive zone," said Walker after practice on Monday, "We're having fun, we're playing well together and it's just going to get better, so."

The hot streak for the threesome couldn't have come at a better time as two of the club's other top-six forwards in Kevin Sundher and Alessio Bertaggia have been sidelined recently with concussions.

"Good time to start playing better as a team. This is a key time of the year, we have to win games and it has to keep coming," added Walker, "We just have to keep playing well as a team and I think we'll be just fine."

Bertaggia could return to the Brandon lineup on Tuesday. The Swiss import practiced without restriction on Monday after missing the past four games.

The Wheat Kings will enter Tuesday's game still one point behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

"Other teams are winning games, and we can't stop them from winning games," said Walker, "We just have to keep winning games and I think we'll be fine. Just get into playoffs here, get a spot in the playoffs and we're going to prove our point."

While the Wheat Kings do remain eighth in the Conference, just six points separate fourth from eighth-place so they club could still earn home-ice advance in the first round of the playoffs with a strong finish.

Chaff...with no player having seen action in every game this season, Walker is actually Brandon's current 'ironman', playing 58 straight games after missing the first three games of the regular season...Brandon captain Mark Stone takes a 12-game point scoring streak (7 G, 20 A) into Tuesday's contest and a one point lead over Portland's Ty Rattie for top spot in the WHL scoring race...goaltender Corbin Boes is 5-2-0 with a 2.60 GAA and .930 SPCT over his last eight appearances while partner Brandon Anderson is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .926 SPCT in his last three starts...former Wheat Kings' captain Keith Aulie was sent to the AHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Aulie had one assist and was +1 in two games in his latest stint in the NHL, and has two points in 17 games overall with the Leafs this season...Brandon is averaging 4,082 fans per game through 28 home games, down just under 200 from last year's average of 4,276...Kootenay captain Drew Czerwonka is expected to his the next 4 - 6 weeks. Jeff Bromley reports that the Oilers' draft pick was seen prior to Kootenay's home game Saturday on crutches and wearing a knee brace (the proverbial 'lower body' injury)...Kootenay will also be without defenceman Jeff Hubic for Tuesday's game. He was handed a one-game suspension by the WHL after being assessed a charging major in Kootenay's home-ice loss to Regina on Saturday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ferland Named WHL Player of Week

Michael Ferland of the Brandon Wheat Kings has been named the Western Hockey League's Player of the Week.

Ferland had nine goals and four assists for 13 points in four games last week while also recording a plus-nine rating.

The 19-year old Ferland is one of five WHL players to hit the 40-goal mark this season and is currently eighth in the league in scoring with 83 points.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ferland's Four Leads to Brandon's Four

Michael Ferland had a career-high four goals on Saturday
Fours were definitely wild for the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night.

A four goal effort by Michael Ferland led the Wheat Kings to their fourth consecutive victory, a 6-2 win over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Ferland's effort was the first four-goal game for a Wheat King sinceJay Fehr turned the trick on December 12, 2009.

"Obviously, it's my linemates. Me, Mark (Stone) and Brenden (Walker) have been playing great," said Ferland on CKLQ's post-game show, "We just want to keep it going, especially playing with those two guys. They're great players and the pucks are going in right now and, hopefully, it stays like that."

Ferland final goal allowed him to become one of five WHL players to reach the 40 goal mark this season.

"Obviously, that's pretty good achievement for myself," said Ferland, who also had an assist in the contest "I just want to keep scoring goals and, hopefully, we keep winning goals."

Dominick Favreau and Ryan Pulock also scored for Brandon while Mark Stone had two assists to improve his league-leading point total to 101 and become the first Wheat King to do that since Peter Schaefer in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

Antoine Corbin and Anthony Bardaro scored for Prince Albert, who directed 44 shots at Brandon netminder Corbin Boes.

Despite the win, the Wheat Kings remain one point behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

The Wheat Kings next action is Tuesday when they host the Kootenay Ice.

Chaff...former Wheat Kings Ryan Reaves scored his first goal of the season for St. Louis in the Blues 4-0 win over Minnesota on Saturday night. It broke a 64-game goalless drought for Reaves...Brandon product Carson Perreaux of the Raiders was my guest during the second intermission show of Saturday's contest. The audio from that interview is below...

video

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brandon Lineup vs Prince Albert (February 18, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 20. Daniel Asham
22. Dominick Favreau - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek

Notes
- Jason Swyripa (lower body) is out of the Wheat Kings lineup again tonight after lasting all of 15 minutes during Friday's game. Swyripa was injured Tuesday in Cranbrook, missed Wednesday's game in Lethbridge and tied to go last night but, ultimately, could not.

- Joining Swyripa on the sidelines tonight are Tyrel Seaman (concussion), Kevin Sundher (upper body), Alessio Bertaggia (upper body) and Curtis Honey (healthy).

- Brandon looks to match a season-high with a fourth straight win tonight. The Wheat Kings won four in a row from November 9 - 18. Brandon is one point behind seventh-place Regina in the Eastern Conference, with the Pats visiting Kootenay tonight.

- Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone tries to become the first Wheat King to record back-to-back 100 point seasons since Peter Schaefer accomplished the feat in 1995-96 (108) and 1996-97 (123). Stone enters the game with 99 points, five more than Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans in the WHL scoring race.

- I had a chance to talk to Brandon product Carson Perreaux of the Raiders prior to tonight's game, and will have that interview for you in the second intermission of tonight's broadcast. We talked about a lot of things including his role in rescuing a puppy earlier this winter and who his role models were growing up in Brandon.

- The Raiders enter tonight's game on a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1-0) and with a 18-36-2-2 record overall, last in the Eastern Conference and 20th in the WHL's overall standings.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wheat Kings Cruise Past Raiders

Bruno Mraz scored his first career WHL goal on Friday
The Brandon Wheat Kings pushed their winning streak to three games Friday night with a 6-1 win over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Brandon led 3-0 before the game was nine minutes old and basically cruised to the victory from that point, outshooting Prince Albert 42-30 in the process.

"We talked about getting off to a good start. It was important for our momentum and our mental state of mind," said Brandon coach Cory Clouston on CKLQ's post-game show, "We've played a lot of hockey, and it's a lot easier to play with a lead than getting behind."

The line of Mark Stone, Brenden Walker and Michael Ferland combined for 11 points with Stone having a goal and four assists, Walker a goal and two assists and Ferland two goals and a helper.

That threesome has 19 goals and 45 points in the last seven games, six of which have been Brandon victories.

Ryan Pulock also scored for Brandon Friday night while Bruno Mraz's first career WHL goal opened the scoring 5:23 into the contest.

"The last seven or eight games has been his best hockey and it was nice to see him get rewarded for his effort," said Clouston, "Not only in the offensive zone, but I thought he did a real good job defensively and the effort was very good for him and it's been that way for the last little while."

Brandon Anderson stopped 29 shots in the Wheat Kings with Antoine Corbin breaking his shutout bid with just 4:05 left in the third period.

The victory moved the Wheat Kings to within a single point of seventh-place Regina in the Eastern Conference standings.

Brandon will host the Raiders again on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff...Mark Stone five-point night pushed his league-leading point total to 99. He is on the verge of becoming the first Wheat King to record back-to-back 100 point seasons since Peter Schaefer in 1995-96 and 1996-97...Jason Swyripa was in the lineup after missing Wednesday's game in Letbridge but left after the first period and did not return...Dominick Favreau returned from a four-game absence with an upper body injury...Mac Beaton passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83. Beaton was a member of the Wheat Kings' team that lost in the final of the 1949 Memorial Cup to the Montreal Royals...Darren Dietz scored four times in Sasktoon's 7-3 win over Swift Current Friday, tying the WHL record for most goals by a defenceman in a single game. Eight players now share the record including former Wheat King Justin Kurtz, who turned the trick on February 28, 1997.

Brandon Lineup vs Prince Albert (February 17, 2012)

Goaltenders
33. Brandon Anderson
1. Corbin Boes

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 24. Jens Meilleur
22. Dominick Favreau - 18. Bruno Mraz - 14. Jason Swyripa
12. Dylan Kuczek - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- the Wheat Kings scratch Kevin Sunder (upper body), Alessio Bertaggia (upper body), Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and Curtis Honey (healthy). Dominick Favreau (upper body) and Jason Swyripa (lower body) will both be game-time decisions.

- Brandon Anderson starts in goal for the Wheat Kings. Anderson has stopped 59 of 65 shots in his last two starts (3.00 GAA, .908 SPCT).

- For all you Brodie Melnychuk haters out there, consider this. The Wheat Kings fifth-year defenceman has seven points (3 G, 4 A) and is +18 in the last 20 games and his +15 rating this season is third-best on the Wheat Kings and ties him for 54th overall in the Western Hockey League.

- Tonight's game is the first of a season-long six-game home stand for Brandon. The Wheat Kings are three points behind seventh-place Regina and six behind both Calgarty and Saskatoon in the Eastern Conference. If the club intends to make a move up the standings, the next two weeks will be critical.

- Prince Albert has lost six in a row heading into tonight's contest and sit last in the WHL's Eastern Conference with a 18-35-2-2 record. The Raiders have been particularly dreadful on the road, going 6-19-1-2 on the season and winning just two of their last nine away from the Art Hauser Centre.

- Brandon's product Carson Perreaux has one goal and two points in 10 games since returning from an upper body injury, and has four points in 31 games with the Raiders this season.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Short-Staffed Wheat Kings Double 'Canes

Brenden Walker had a natural hat-trick for Brandon
on Wednesday
For the Brandon Wheat Kings, less was more on Wednesday night.

Brandon dressed just 15 skaters because of injury but still emerged with a 4-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the final game of their three-game Central Division road trip.

Brenden Walker’s natural hat-trick had the Wheat Kings in front 3-0 before the game hit the 32-minute mark, an important lead considering the short-staffed lineup Brandon iced.

Michael Ferland also scored for the Wheat Kings with Corbin Boes stopping 39 shots including 20 in the third period.

“I thought it was a great effort by our guys. We had a lot of guys step up and just do little things, and that’s what you have to do when you have a short bench,” said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You have to block shots, just get everything out, clear the net and then get some goaltending, and Corbin was excellent as the game went along.”

The game played out perfectly for the shorthanded Wheat Kings, with a combined three power-play opportunities for the two teams which meant Brandon didn’t have to overuse any of their top players with a lot of special teams duty.

Mark Stone added a pair of assists to increase his league-leading total to 94 points, with the Stone-Walker-Ferland line combining for 15 goals, 33 points and a +28 rating during the last six contests.

“They could be one of the top lines in the league when they’re at the top of their game, and the last two games they’ve been just excellent and not just offensively,” said Ritchie, “They’ve worked to get back and play defensively, and they’ve shown some leadership. We’re short-staffed and they’ve taken it on their own to lead guys and they’ve done an excellent job by doing that.”

Brody Sutter and Graham Hood scored for Lethbridge while former Wheat King Liam Liston stopped 28 shots in the Hurricanes’ net.

The win moves Brandon eight points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and leaves the Wheat Kings still three points behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Brandon’s next action is Friday night when they host the Prince Albert Raiders (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff…F Jason Swyripa (lower body) missed the first game of his two-year WHL career, ending his consecutive games played streak at 130 games…Mark Stone extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games (6 G, 13 A). The Wheat Kings’ captain is still two points ahead of Regina’s Jordan Weal for top spot in the WHL scoring race…Brandon goaltender Corbin Boes is now 4-2 with a 2.70 GAA and .925 SPCT in his last seven appearances...Ryley Miller's third period minor pushed his career penalty minute total past the 400 mark.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wheat Kings' Lineup at Lethbridge (February 15, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 20. Daniel Asham
12. Dylan Kuczek - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
14. Jason Swyripa?

Notes
- The news is getting worse for the Wheat Kings' on the injury front. Kevin Sunder (upper body) will miss tonight's game while Jason Swyripa (lower body) will take warmup and then there'll be a decision on whether he'll play. Alessio Bertaggia (upper body), Dominick Favreau (upper body) and Tyrel Seaman (concussion) are also scratched while G Curtis Honey is a healthy scratch for the eighth consecutive game.

- The increased injury list means Brandon (if Swyripa plays) will dress 10 forwards (including converted defenceman Dylan Kuczek) and six defencemen for tonight's contest.

- Corbin Boes will start in goal for the Wheat Kings, his sixth start in the last eight games. Boes is 3-2 with a2.83 GAA and .920 SPCT in his last six appearances.

- Mark Stone takes a nine-game point scoring streak into tonight's contest (6 G, 11 A). Stone leads the WHL scoring race by two points over Regina's Jordan Weal entering Wednesday's action.

- Former Wheat King Liam Liston starts for the Hurricanes. Liston stopped 31 of 32 shots in Lethbridge's last game, a 3-1 win over visiting Prince Albert on Saturday night. Liston is 6-10-0 with a 4.28 GAA and .883 SPCT in 20 appearances with the 'Canes this season.

Roy's Clutch Goal Lifts Wheat Kings over Ice

Michael Ferland scored a pair of goals Tuesday
Eric Roy had a Valentine’s Day to remember, but love had nothing to do with it.

Roy snapped a shot past Kootenay goaltender Nathan Lieuwen with 3.2 seconds left in the third period to lift the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Ice on Tuesday night.

The winning goal came just 2:17 after Kootenay had the tied the game on a Jesse Ismond power-play goal, spurring a frantic final three minutes that saw the teams exchanging chances.

Brock Montgomery and Jon Martin scored goals 54 seconds apart in the first period as the Ice took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but the Wheat Kings countered with three second period goals including a pair by Michael Ferland.

“He does a real good job of finding those little areas, if it’s off the back post or in the high slot there, he does a good job of finding the open spot,” said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “The good players usually do that, and when you play with players like Mark (Stone) and Brenden (Walker), those guys will find you.”

Mark Stone added a goal and an assist, re-taking the WHL scoring lead by two points over Regina’s Jordan Weal, while Brandon Anderson stopped 31 shots in the Wheat Kings’ net.

“In the third there, they had some momentum and he made some great stops,” said Ritchie, “You need him to bear down. He gave up the two goals and, after that, I thought he was real solid.”

The victory was Brandon’s fourth in their last five games and leaves the Wheat Kings six points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and three points behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Brandon concludes their three-game road trip by visiting the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ or online at http://www.cklq.com/).

Chaff…Wheat Kings’ forward Jason Swyripa left the game midway through the second period after a hit from Kootenay’s Brock Montgomery. Montgomery was assessed a charging minor, and was then engaged in a fight by Brandon’s Rene Hunter...Mark Stone extended his point-scoring streak to nine games (6 G, 11 A)...the Wheat Kings are 10-3-0-1 at the Cranbrook Rec-Plex over the last six seasons.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wheat Kings' Lineup at Kootenay (February 14, 2012)

Goaltenders
33. Brandon Anderson
1. Corbin Boes

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 24. Jens Meilleur
14. Jason Swyripa - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 18. Bruno Mraz
12. Dylan Kuczek - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- Alessio Bertaggia (upper body) join the Wheat Kings' injury list, joining Dominick Favreau (upper body) and Tyrel Seaman (concussion). G Curtis Honey is a healthy scratch for the seventh consecutive game.

- Brandon Anderson starts in goal for the Wheat Kings, just his second start since January 21st. Anderson stopped 28 of 31 shots in a 6-3 win in Swift Current 10 days ago in his last start.

- Brandon looks to re-start a winning streak after having their three-gamer end Sunday in Medicine Hat. The Wheat Kings enter Tuesday's action sitting four points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and five behind the seventh-place Regina Pats in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Both the Rebels and Pats are idle on Tuesday.

- Kootenay is 4-2-0-0 in their last six games after a four-game losing streak that started with Brandon's 1-0 win in Cranbrook on January 24th. Interestingly enough, healthy scratch Curtis Honey made 34 saves for the shutout that night.

- The Ice have allowed just 10 goals in their last six games, with Nathan Lieuwen starting five of those. He's 4-1 with a 1.40 GAA and .951 SPCT in his those last five starts.

- Kootenay is 31-17-4-4 overall and sitting in fourth-place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Saskatoon and four behind Medicine Hat.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stone Chasing Down Scoring Title

Seven players are separated by six points in the WHL scoring
race including Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone (center)
(Clockwise, starting from top left: Michael St. Croix, Jordan
Weal, Emerson Etem, Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman
and Ty Rattie
Mark Stone usually deflects discussion centred on himself, but the Wheat Kings’ captain admits it’d be an honour to join the likes of Brian Propp, Ray Ferraro and Eric Fehr as Brandon players to win the WHL scoring crown.

Stone is one of seven players within six points of each other in one of the tightest races for the scoring title in the history of the Western Hockey League.

“Obviously, it would be neat. The #1 goal right now is to get into the playoffs and have success in the playoffs,” said Stone after the Wheat Kings’ practice in Medicine Hat on Monday, “Obviously, I want to be one of the top players in the league if not the top player in the league so it’s just one thing that would put something on that.”

Stone initially struggled after returning from a starring role with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship but has returned to his first half form after the last couple of weeks, scoring five goals and 15 points during a current eight-game point-scoring streak.

“That was quite the experience and you really don’t want it to end. Coming back, you still want to be there but it’s something that I had to adjust to,” said Stone, “I feel like I’m back to being part of the team and just trying to compete every night and do it to the best of your ability.”

Stone is one of four Winnipeg products in the top seven in scoring in the WHL, joining Edmonton’s Michael St. Croix (87 points), and a pair of Tri-City Americans in Brendan Shinnimin (85 points) and Adam Hughesman (84 points).

“I think it’s growing a lot more since Jonathan Toews has really put Winnipeg on the map. Obviously, guys are starting to understand that they can make it to the next level from Winnipeg,” said Stone, “We went through a tough stretch where there wasn’t really too many players but we’re starting to get put back on the globe.”

Heading into Tuesday’s action, Stone has 90 points and is tied with Regnia’s Jordan Weal in the scoring race, one point ahead of both Medicine Hat’s Emerson Etem and Portland’s Ty Rattie.

Brandon visits the Kootenay Ice Tuesday in the middle game of their three-game road trip (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ or online at http://www.cklq.com/).

Chaff…F Alessio Bertaggia, who left Sunday’s game in Medicine Hat late in the first period, did not practice on Monday and is questionable for the rest of the week…Brandon is 7-3-0-1 in their last 11 regular season visits to Cranbrook…Brandon has outshot their opponents in just 22 of 57 games this season and scored first in 25 of 57 games.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wheat Kings' Winning Streak Ends

Mark Stone took over the WHL scoring lead on Sunday
The Brandon Wheat Kings saw their three-game winning streak snapped Sunday night with a 4-2 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Emerson Etem’s 50th goal in his 50th game 6:04 into the third period snapped a 2-2 tie while Mark Stone had a goal and an assist for Brandon to take over the WHL scoring lead with 90 points, one more than Etem, Regina’s Jordan Weal and Portland’s Ty Rattie.

The Wheat Kings scored on their first two shots on goal in the opening six minutes of the contest, with Brenden Walker opening the scoring with his 20th of the season 3:09 in and Stone following with his 36th at 5:56.

However, Brandon fired just 22 shots and were blanked the rest of the way by Tigers’ netminder Tyler Bunz.

“I thought there were times we could have went to the hard areas a little bit better to get inside the defence and maybe create some second shots,” said Brandon assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You aren’t going to score a lot of pretty goals at this time of the year. They’re going to be goals that you have to go find, find the rebounds and maybe take a bump or a bruise scoring those goals but those are the type of goals you’re going to score nowadays.”

Cole Grbavac and Rhyse Dieno scored for Medicine Hat in the final five minutes of the first period as the clubs were tied 2-2 at both intermission breaks.

Etem added his 51st of the season into an empty-net in the final minute to become the WHL’s first 50-in-50 man since Layne Ulmer scored 50 in 47 games for the Swift Current Broncos during the 2000-2001 season.

The loss leaves Brandon 28-26-2-1 on the season and still eighth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, three points behind seventh-place Regina and four ahead of ninth-place Regina.

The Wheat Kings continue their Central Division road trip Tuesday night when they visit the Kootenay Ice (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

Chaff…Brandon F Alessio Bertaggia left the game late in the first period after a questionable hit from Tigers’ captain Cole Grbavac and did not return. Grbavac was assessed an interference minor on the play…former Wheat King Colby Robak made his NHL debut on Sunday, going pointless and recording a +2 rating while playing 14:40 for Florida in the Panthers 4-1 win over the New York Islanders…former Wheat Kings’ co-captain Brayden Schenn scored twice for Philadelphia in their 4-3 loss in Detroit Sunday. Schenn has eight goals on the season.

Wheat Kings' Lineup at Medicine Hat (February 12, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 24. Jens Meilleur
13. Alessio Bertaggia - 18. Bruno Mraz - 14. Jason Swyripa
12. Dylan Kuczek - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- The Brandon Wheat Kings sit G Curtis Honey (healthy) for the sixth consecutive game while F Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and F Dominick Favreau (upper body) are also out of the Brandon lineup tonight.

- Michael Ferland avoids suspension after being assessed an interference major and game misconduct with just over five minutes left in Friday's home-ice win over Swift Current and will be in the Brandon lineup tonight.

- Paul Ciarelli returns to the Wheat Kings' lineup after missing three games with an Upper Body injury while Dylan Kuczek returns after missing two games with illness.

- Corbin Boes starts in goal for the fifth time in six games. Boes is 3-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .924 SPCT in his last five appearances.

- The Wheat Kings are looking for a fourth straight win, which would match their longest winning streak of the season. Brandon won four in a row from November 9 - 18.

- Medicine Hat will be without Hunter Shinkaruk, the WHL's 8th leading scorer, for tonight's game while Tyler Bunz makes his 23rd consecutive start in the Tigers' net.

- Emerson Etem enters Sunday's game with 49 goals in 49 games this season. He's trying to become the first 50-in-50 man in the WHL since Layne Ulmer of the Swift Current Broncos scored 50 in 47 games during the 2000-2001 season. I might be wrong on this, but I believe the last 50-in-50 man for the Wheat Kings was current assistant coach Darren Ritchie in 1994-95.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wheat Kings Break Home-Ice Slide, Win Third Straight

Darian Dziurzynski had a goal and two assists Friday
The Brandon Wheat Kings snapped a six-game home-ice losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Friday night.

Alessio Bertaggia scored twice and Darian Dziurzynski had a goal and two assists to pace the Wheat Kings' offence.

Bertaggia had just two goals in his previous 16 games while Dziurzynski matched his point total from the previous 14 games combined.

Dziurzynski feels better chemistry with linemate Kevin Sundher was key.

"We got put on a line together a couple of weeks ago, and we just realized how much speed our line has and how much we have to use it," said Dziurzynski on CKLQ's post-game show, "We just try to carry as much speed through the neutral zone as we can and its starting to work out. We're starting to get a lot of scoring opportunities, we're backing defencemen off and we're opening up good shots."

Sundher also scored for Brandon while Ryan Pulock and Michael Ferland had the other goals for the Wheat Kings.

After getting much of their production from the Mark Stone, Brenden Walker, Michael Ferland line for the previous three games, other lines contributed five of the six goals Brandon scored on Friday night.

"All three lines contributed offensively and all three lines played right," said Brandon coach Cory Clouston, "They played proper, they played hard and they got reward for it and it's nice to see. It should be a good confidence builder for some of those guys."

After a tough month of January the Wheat Kings have now won three in a row, their longest winning streak since a string of four straight victories from November 9 - 18.

"Confidence is huge, especially in the game of hockey. When you go out there and can just feed off your last game and feed off your last win, it's a lot better," said Dziurzynski, "It makes the game a lot easier when you get a little streak going."

Brandon remains four points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and are just one point behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

The Wheat Kings' next action is Sunday night when they begin a three-game road trip in Medicine Hat.

Chaff...Ferland was also assessed an interference major with just over five minutes to play, a penalty that will automatically be reviewed by the WHL office for a possible suspension...Friday's game was just the fifth time in 20 games since the Christmas break the Wheat Kings have scored more than three goals. They are now 4-1-0-0 when that happens...Mark Stone extended his point-scoring streak to eight games with a second period assist, and remains tied with Portland's Ty Rattie for the WHL scoring lead with 88 points.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brandon Lineup vs Swift Current (February 10, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 20. Daniel Asham
13. Alessio Bertaggia - 14. Jason Swyripa - 24. Jens Meilleur
18. Bruno Mraz

Notes
- Brandon scratches G Curtis Honey (healthy), D Dylan Kuczek (illness), F Dominick Favreau (shoulder), F Paul Ciarelli (upper body) and F Tyrel Seaman (concussion). The Wheat Kings are dressing two skaters under the limit with 10 forwards and six defencemen.

- Corbin Boes starts for the third time in four games in the Brandon net. Boes is 2-1 with a 2.79 GAA and .929 SPCT in his last four appearances.

- The Wheat Kings are 4-1-0-1 versus Swift Current this season. Perhaps that's a good omen as Brandon looks for their first home-ice win of 2012. The Wheat Kings last won at home on December 28th, and have gone six straight home games without a victory.

- Brandon has scored three or fewer goals in 15 of 19 games since the Christmas break. They are 3-1-0-0 in the four games they've scored four or more goals in that span.

- The Wheat Kings are on pace to surrender 276 goals this season, which would be the largest number of goals against for the team since the 1991-92 season.

Bertaggia Looks to Add Secondary Scoring

Alessio Bertaggia
The Brandon Wheat Kings look for a third straight win on Friday night when they host the Swift Current Broncos (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

The Wheat Kings are looking for some secondary scoring as the bulk of the team's offence the last few games has come from the top line of Mark Stone, Michael Ferland and Brenden Walker.

Among the players who haven't produced regularly in the second half is import Alessio Bertaggia, who has two goals and six points in 16 games since returning from the World Junior Hockey Championship.

"Obviously, we have a lot of skill on this team and other teammates need to stand up and make some points," said Bertaggia after practice on Thursday, "I know everybody's is trying to work hard and get points so we'll see."

Bertaggia has been a streaky scorer this season, registering seven goals and 14 points in the first 11 games of the season, going the next 11 games without a goal and then scoring 10 goals and 18 points in 13 games before heading to the WJHC.

"Practice hard, and get some confidence in practice and score some goals," said Bertaggia, "I think I had a good practice (today). I just want to help the team and give my best every game."

Brandon will likely be short-staffed again on Friday night with Dominick Favreau having re-injured his shoulder on Wednesday night in his first game back from a six-game absence.

Paul Ciarelli (upper body) will miss his third straight game and Tyrel Seaman (concussion) remains out indefinitely.

Chaff...rookie defenceman Dylan Kuczek (illness) missed practice again on Thursday. His status for Friday's game is up in the air...the Wheat Kings will honour D Brodie Melnychuk prior to Friday's contest for playing his 300th career game with the team earlier this month...Brandon product Brock Sutherland of the Calgary Hitmen scored his first goal of the season in their 9-5 loss to Edmonton on Wednesday night.

Another Successful Wheat Kings/CKLQ Sportsman's Dinner


It was another sold out edition of the Brandon Wheat Kings / CKLQ Sportsman's Dinner on Thursday night.

More than 800 people jammed the UCT Pavilion to listen to CFL Hall of Famer Mike 'Pinball' Clemons, who delivered a largely motivational address.

Some of the auction items went for large prices including a Winnipeg Jets' package that sold for two grand and an autographed Brayden Schenn Flyers' jersey that sold for $1,500.

The annual event raises money for the Wheat Kings' scholarship foundation.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wheat Kings on Win Streak for First Time in Two Months

The Brandon Wheat Kings have back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly two months.

Michael Ferland scored twice including the winner with 4:03 left in the third period as the Wheat Kings beat the Regina Pats 3-2 on Wednesday night.

The winning goal came immediately off an offensive zone faceoff and just three minutes after Kevin Sundher had tied the game 2-2.

"That was pretty good. Mark (Stone) has such a long stick, if he can just touch it past the centre, he can usually get to it," said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ's post-game show, "He just told Mike (Ferland) to get to the back post and he made a bang-bang play."

Brandon fell behind 2-0 in the first period as Lane Scheidl opened the scoring 35 seconds into the contest on what was an accidently own goal by Stone when trying to clear a loose puck from the net front area.

Brandon Davidson made it 2-0 on a 5-on-3 power-play goal later in the opening frame while Ferland's first of the night was the lone goal of the second period.

Corbin Boes made 35 saves in the Wheat Kings' net while Matt Hewitt stopped 27 shots for Regina.

It's the first time since November 30 - December 2 that Brandon has won consecutive games and the first time since October 18 - 19 that they've won back-to-back road contests.

It has to be an encouraging sign for a team that had just five wins in 17 second half games before the last two contests.

"Our guys are seeing that if they stick with it for 60 minutes, you're at least going to give yourself at least a chance," said Ritchie, "You can't just hang your head when you're down by two goals, you have to stay with it. Hopefully, now, we have to just stay even keal. We're an eighth-place team in our Conference so we have a lot of work to do."

The victory leaves Brandon three points behind the seventh-place Pats and four ahead of ninth-place Red Deer in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

The Wheat Kings next action is Friday night when they look for their first home-ice win of 2012 when they host the Swift Current Broncos (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff...Dominick Favreau returned to Brandon's lineup after a six-game absence due to a shoulder injury but left late in the first period after a hit from Regina defenceman Kyle Burroughs and did not return...Mark Stone's assist on the winning goal gives him 87 points on the season and leaves him tied with Portland's Ty Rattie for the WHL scoring lead...Rattie missed Portland's last game on Monday and is currently day-to-day with an upper body injury...the CKLQ Wheat Kings' Sportsman's Dinner will take place Thursday night. The annual fundraiser for the Wheat Kings' Scholarship Foundation is sold out. Guest speaker is CFL Hall of Famer Mike 'Pinball' Clemons.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Brandon Lineup at Regina (February 8, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 13. Alessio Bertaggia
22. Dominick Favreau - 14. Jason Swyripa - 24. Jens Meilleur
18. Bruno Mraz - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- The Wheat Kings scratch G Curtis Honey (healthy), D Dylan Kuczek (illness), F Paul Ciarelli (upper body) and F Tyrel Seaman (concussion).

- Brandon is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since November 30 - December 2, but are also looking to win back-to-back road games for the first time since October 18 - 19, victories in Seattle and Everett on back-to-back nights.

- Kevin Sundher and Darian Dziurzynski have combined for 10 points in 11 games since the WHL trade deadline, not the kind of production the Wheat Kings expected for giving up two players and four draft picks in separate deals.

Wheat Kings Hope Offence is Back

Darian Dziurzynski
The Brandon Wheat Kings look for back-to-back wins for the first time since December 2nd when they visit the Regina Pats on Wednesday night (6:35 p.m., 880 CKLQ or online at http://www.cklq.com/).

Brandon hoping Saturday's 6-3 win in Swift Current is a sign of things to come, particularly from the offensive side.

The Wheat Kings have scored more than three goals in a game just four times in 18 contests since the Christmas break and, not coincidentally, they're 3-1-0-0 in those four contests.

20-year old Darian Dziurzynski scored an empty-net goal in Satuday's win to break a seven-game pointless streak but his production has been part of the dropoff for Brandon in the second half.

Dziurzynski has points in three of the last 18 games in the second half and just three points in the last 13 games.

"When you look at the last couple of games I've played, been gradually getting better, me and Kevin (Sundher) both," said Dziurzynski after Tuesday's practice, "We've been talking a lot, and we feel that we've been gradually gettng better as a line and should help the team out. We'll probably starting scoring some goals here now, hopefully keep getting better and go into playoffs strong."

Sundher was acquired in a trade with Victoria on January 9th but after scoring 64 points in 40 games with the Royals the Buffalo Sabres' draft pick has just seven points in 13 games with Brandon.

However, Dziurzynski feels he's starting to find some chemistry with his new centre.

"Haven't really played together consistently. He'd be going one night and then I'd be going one night but now that we're both starting to find it, it should be good," said Dziurzynski, "It's different coming from the West Coast for him to the Eastern Conference but I think he's started to get used to it and it should be pretty good."

Dominick Favreau practiced without restrictions on Tuesday and could be back in the Wheat Kings' lineup Wednesday night after missing six games with a shoulder injury while Paul Ciarelli hasn't practiced this week after missing Saturday's game with an upper body injury.

Ciarelli's status isn't known as the 20-year old centre doesn't appear in this week's official WHL Injury Report.

Chaff...D Brodie Melnychuk also missed practice Tuesday but was on the ice Monday and should be fine to play career game #301 Wednesday...Brandon has 18 games remaining in the regular season with 33 per cent of those, six, coming against the Pats including four in Regina...Mark Stone takes a five-game point streak (4 G, 7 A) into Wednesday's contest while defenceman Ryan Pulock is on a three-game goal streak (3 G, 3 A).

---------------------------------------------
Now, if you don't want another rant about the WHL Injury Report, stop reading now.

Are you still reading?

As mentioned above, Paul Ciarelli is not on this week's Injury Report despite not playing Saturday in Swift Current, not practicing yet this week and (presumably) missing Wednesday's game in Regina.

The accuracy of the Official WHL Injury Report is called into question on a weekly basis, even beyond the Upper and Lower Body Injury nonsense.

One of the silently amusing things on the report over the last couple of months has been the status updates on Brandon centre Tyrel Seaman.

Seaman has played just one game since November 25th, and it's pretty much widely known that he's suffered back-to-back concussions (or concussion-like symptoms) in games November 25th and again on December 28th.

Most fans and media understand that it's the type of injury where it's hard to pinpoint an exact time frame of when he might return.

However, here's been his status on the official WHL Injury Report over the last 11 weeks...

February 7 - Upper Body, 2 Weeks
January 31 - Upper Body, 2 Weeks
January 24 - Upper Body, 2 Weeks
January 17 - Upper Body, 2 Weeks
January 10 - Upper Body, 1 Week
January 3 - Upper Body, 1 Week
December 27 - Returns from Injury
December 20 - No Report
December 13 - Upper Body, 1 Week
December 6 - Upper Body, 1 Week
November 29 - Upper Body, 1 Week

That means, he's been two weeks away from returning to the lineup for four consecutive weeks!!

Never mind the media, I wonder how NHL scouts who are setting their travel schedules to, perhaps, see the 50th ranked prospect in North America (according to the CSS Midterm rankings) feel about trying to figure out when Seaman may or may not return?

Want another reason why the WHL Injury Report is generally useless?

Dominick Favreau injured his shoulder (the proverbial upper body injury) during a home game on January 21, but did not appear on the January 24 Injury Report.

He then proceeded to miss all four games on Brandon's Central Division road trip from January 24 - 28.

Rant Over!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Melnychuk's Milestone and Other Notes

Brodie Melnychuk hit a pretty significant milestone over the weekend, playing his 300th career game Saturday night in Swift Current.

I had a chance to talk to Brodie about the achievement prior to Saturday's contest, and he was very complimentary about the Wheat Kings' organization and what they've done for him during his five years with the team.

Take a listen...

video

A couple of other leftover notes from the weekend:

- former Wheat King Travis Hamonic will be out of the New York Islanders lineup for at least a couple of week after taking a deflect puck to the face on Saturday. More from Newsday.

- former Wheat King Jordin Tootoo shared his story of rehabilitation and sobriety along with Predators' teammate Brian McGrattan on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. Check out the feature here...

- I mentioned in Saturday's game story that Taylor Cooper and John Quenneville were two Wheat Kings' prospects who were playing in Sunday's Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League All-Star game. Brandon, in fact, had a third prospect play as the club recently listed Nick Josephs, a 1994-born forward who is tied for third in the AMHL in scoring with 24 goals and 45 points in 27 games with the Calgary Flames.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wheat Kings Rally for Victory in Swift Current

Brodie Melnychuk notched the game-winning goal in his
300th career game on Saturday night
Mark Stone had two goals and three assists to pace the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-3 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night.

Ryan Pulock and Michael Ferland added a goal and two assists each in helping the Wheat Kings overcame a 3-1, second period deficit in what was one of Brandon’s more impressive performances in the last six weeks.

“We were okay early on, and we just didn’t get a couple of bounces go our way and I thought they made it 3-1, but we stayed with it all night,” said Wheat Kings’ assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “I really give our guys a lot of credit tonight. They stuck with it, it was always positive on the bench and (Brandon Anderson) made some saves after it was 3-1. Our guys just stuck with it tonight and found a way.”

Brodie Melnychuk scored the game-winning goal in his 300th career game with the Wheat Kings, snapping a 3-3 tie 2:55 into the third period while Darian Dziurzynski added an empty-net goal for Brandon for his first points in eight games.

Anderson finished with 28 saves in his first start in two weeks while Jon Groenheyde made 30 saves in the Swift Current net.

Levi Bews, Colby Cave and Taylor Vause scored the goals for the Broncos.

The victory was Brandon’s fifth in their last nine road games and lifted the Wheat Kings to a four-point lead over ninth-place Red Deer in the chase of the final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Brandon is idle until Wednesday, when they’ll visit the Regina Pats.

Chaff…Melnychuk is the 8th player to play 300 games with Brandon, joining current Wheat Kings’ assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, Lance Monych, Tim Konsorada, Aaron Goldade, Dale McMullin, Ryan Craig and Randy Ponte …Melnychuk and Pulock both finished the game with +4 ratings…a pair of Wheat Kings’ prospects will play in the Alberta Midget Hockey League All-Star game on Sunday. Taylor Cooper (Sherwood Park) and John Quennville (SSAC Athletics) will both play for the Dodge Division team on Sunday. Cooper is currently sixth in the AMHL in scoring with 19 goals and 43 points in 30 games while Quenneville has 12 goals and 27 points in 27 contests.

Brandon Lineup at Swift Current (February 4, 2012)

Goaltenders
33. Brandon Anderson
1. Corbin Boes

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 14. Jason Swyripa
13. Alessio Bertaggia - 18. Bruno Mraz - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- the Wheat Kings add veteran F Paul Ciarelli (upper body) to the injury list for tonight's game, joining Dominick Favreau (shoulder), Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and Curtis Honey (healthy) on the sidelines.

- D Ryley Miller saw limited action late in Friday's game against Lethbridge with what appeared to be a knee injury but will be in Brandon's lineup tonight. How much he plays will be the question.

- The Wheat Kings haven't done a lot in the second half, but they are 4-4-0-0 in their last eight road game, so that's something positive as they get ready for Saturday's matchup with the Broncos.

- Brandon's struggles have allowed Swift Current to stay in the playoff picture as the Broncos enter Saturday's game just eight points behind the Wheat Kings for eighth-place.

Friday, February 3, 2012

'Canes Double Wheat Kings

Damien Ketlo
Damien Ketlo stopped 41 shots to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night.

It was Brandon's sixth straight home-ice loss and 12th in their last 16 games overall.

"I'm not sure what it is about that first game back after a long road trip," said Brandon head coach Cory Clouston on CKLQ's post-game show, "We were lethargic, at times, and we just weren't sharp enough around the net. We had enough chances, we fired 40-plus shots on net and with the guys we have, we should be able to score on more chances than we did."

Mark Stone and Ryan Pulock scored the goals for Brandon while Corbin Boes made 30 saves in the Wheat Kings' net.

The 'Canes dropped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Graham Hood and Juraj Bezuch after the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes.

Adam Henry and Max Moline, with the first of his WHL career, traded goals with Stone and Pulock in the third period for Lethbridge.

"At times, right in front of our net, we need to lock down and be better there," said Pulock, "I think on chances, we have to get pucks deep and start going to their net."

Friday's game marked the 14th time in 17 games since the Christmas break that the Wheat Kings have scored three or fewer goals and several players are in prolonger offensive slumps.

"They have to do the little things -- stops and starts, they have to go to the net and they have to do it consistently," said Clouston, "When we do it consistently, we're a good team. If we do it sporadically, we allow our opponents to get momentum and, tonight, Lethbridge didn't get a lot of momentum and they capitalized on their chances and made good on them."

The loss drops Brandon back to .500 on the season at 25-25-1-2 but the club still has a two point lead over Red Deer for eighth-place and the final playoff spot after the Rebels fell 3-2 in Edmonton on Friday.

The Wheat Kings will visit the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night (6:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

Chaff...former Wheat King Spencer Galbraith returned to the Hurricanes' lineup after missing two games with a lower body injury but played only one shift early in the first period and watched the rest of the game from the bench...Friday's crowd of 4,228 pushed the Wheat Kings over 100,000 for the season but the club's season average of 4,050 fans per game is down more than 200 from a year ago...former Wheat King Erik Christensen was dealt by the New York Rangers along with a conditional seventh round pick in 2013 to the Minnesota Wild Friday for forward Casey Wellman...Regina's Jordan Weal and Calgary's Chris Driedger were named Player and Goaltender of the Month respectively by the WHL on Friday.

Wheat Kings' Lineup vs Lethbridge (February 3, 2012)

Goaltenders
1. Corbin Boes
33. Brandon Anderson

Defencemen
3. Brodie Melnychuk - 2. Ryan Pulock
7. Eric Roy - 32. Ryley Miller
6. Ayrton Nikkel - 9. Rene Hunter

Forwards
27. Michael Ferland - 8. Brenden Walker - 16. Mark Stone
19. Darian Dziurzynski - 29. Kevin Sundher - 14. Jason Swyripa
13. Alessio Bertaggia - 25. Paul Ciarelli - 24. Jens Meilleur
12. Dylan Kuczek - 18. Bruno Mraz - 20. Daniel Asham

Notes
- The Wheat Kings scratch F Tyrel Seaman (concussion), F Dominick Favreau (shoulder) and G Curtis Honey (healthy). Kevin Sundher is in the Brandon lineup tonight after missing Thursday's practice with a undisclosed ailment.

- Brandon hasn't won on home-ice since December 28, losing five straight home games and being outscored 25-11 in the process. It's the first time since 2001 that the Wheat Kings had failed to win a home game in the month of January.

- some of the ugly #'s from January for the Wheat Kings include a 4-9-0-1 record, three or fewer goals scores in 11 of the 14 contests and an average of 36.7 shots against (eight times of 37 or more shots against). The team was also outscored 31-11 in the second period of their 14 January games.

- The Hurricanes will start Damien Ketlo in goal tonight and not former Wheat King Liam Liston. Spencer Galbraith will play tonight after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. Liston is 5-10-1 with a 4.49 GAA and .878 SPCT in 19 games with the 'Canes while Galbraith has seven points, all assists, and a -7 rating in 35 games with the Hurricanes. I caught up with Galbraith for a couple of minutes prior to Friday's game...

video


- Max Moline returns to the Lethbridge lineup tonight. He's been out since September with a lower body injury.

Wheat Kings Host 'Canes Friday

The Brandon Wheat Kings look to end a five-game home-ice losing streak Friday night when they entertain the Lethbridge Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Brandon is coming off a January to forget that saw the team lose 10 of 14 games (4-9-0-1), averaging of 36.7 shots and 4.42 goals against per game in the process.

However, the club did finish the month on a bit of a high note with Corbin Boes stopping 39 shots in Brandon's last outing, a 3-2 win in Red Deer last Saturday.

"I think that third period in Edmonton there when I went in for 20 minutes, that really helped me out a lot and that carried into the game there Saturday against Red Deer," said Boes after practice on Thursday, "I just looked to bring that to practice this week and keep it going for the rest of the season."

Boes has returned to the Wheat Kings' lineup after missing six weeks with a fractured hand, leaving Brandon in the unusual situation of having three goaltenders for the remainder of the season.

"All three of us bring something else to the table. We're all playing our own game and, I guess in a way, it helps you focus more, realize what the job here is to be done," said Boes, "Just have to go out and give 110 per cent every practice and hope things work out your way."

Brandon enters the weekend sitting two points ahead of Red Deer for the final playoff spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference, with the Rebels having two games in hand, while the Wheat Kings are five points behind the seventh-place Regina Pats.

"I think we have a favourable schedule here in February, lots of home games so I think we should definitely be able to take advantage of that," said Boes, "I think our home record needs to improve and I think we're going to out there and do that this month. There's lots of opportunity to gain some ground on other teams and move ahead of Red Deer."

The Rebels visit Edmonton in one of the other games on the WHL schedule on Friday.

Chaff...Friday's game is the first trip back to Brandon for former Wheat Kings Liam Liston and Spencer Galbraith since being dealt to the Hurricanes on October 16...Galbraith missed Lethbridge's game in Swift Current Wednesday with a lower body injury, and is listed as day-to-day...Kevin Sundher sat out practice on Thursday with an undisclosed ailment and is questionable for Friday's game...Dominick Favreau practiced in a no-contact jersey Thursday as he continues to make his way back from a shoulder injury...Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite) was also on the sidelines on Thursday...the Everett Silvertips announced Thursday night that they would not be renewing the contact of General Manager Doug Soetaert, and the search for a new GM would begin immediately.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Flames Pay Tribute to Brad McCrimmon

The Calgary Flames paid tribute for former Brandon Wheat Kings' great Brad McCrimmon prior to their 3-1 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night.

McCrimmon helped the Flames in the Stanley Cup in 1989, served as team captain in 1989-90 and also spent three years as a assistant coach with Calgary.

McCrimmon was among the people killed in a plane crash in Russia in September.

The #4 jerseys the Flames wore during warmup are to be sold off as part of an online auction on CalgaryFlames.com with the proceeds going to Love For Lokomotiv.  I haven't been able to find the specific area where this morning.

To watch the Flames' tribute video(s) to McCrimmon, go to http://video.flames.nhl.com/videocenter/