Saturday, 18 April 2015

Captain Quenneville Comes Through in Overtime

The Wheat Kings celebrate Peter Quenneville's overtime goal.
  The Quenneville's definitely know a thing or two about dramatic finishes.

  Peter Quenneville scored 6:15 into overtime to lift the Wheat Kings past the Regina Pats 3-2 on Friday night and move Brandon into the third round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

  The Wheat Kings' captain scored on a setup from younger brother John, who scored the series-clinching goal in double overtime in Brandon's opening round series against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

  "(Coulter) got the puck at the blue and just made a nice little soft chip and Johnny was driving through," said Peter Quenneville on CKLQ's post-game show, "I just came on the ice and as Johnny worked his way around the net, he stopped up and I think he just saw me out of the corner of his eye and threw me a soft one into the slot, knowing I was there.  It just squeeked right by their defenceman's stick and as soon as it came to me, I just tried to make a good shot and it found its way in."

  The Wheat Kings faced a little adversity in Friday's game, trailing 2-1 going into the third period before Nolan Patrick scored the game-tying goal with 6:21 left in regulation.

  Brandon then had a kill off a penalty in overtime after Tyler Coulter was given a tripping minor 2:27 into extra time.

  The Wheat Kings' penalty-kill had been an achilles heal for much of the season but is now 34-40 (85.0%) in the playoffs after finishing the regular season 28-for-32 (87.5%) in their final 12 games.

  "I've always talked about importance in the timing of your special teams," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "Certainly, you're playing overtime hockey with Game #6 in Regina staring at you, that's called stepping up by your people in that situation."

  Friday's game was the sixth time in ten playoff outings the Wheat Kings have had a game finish in a 3-2 score, with Brandon coming out on top on five of those occasions.

  "I think going through adversity in the playoffs is important in the playoffs," said Quenneville, the eighth different player to score a game-winning goal for Brandon in the playoffs, "We've lost in both series and we've won overtime games in both series so I think it's really good for us to experience those moments and learn how to play in tight games and just be really resilient.  That's a huge part of winning games in the playoffs."

  Jake Leschyshyn and Taylor Cooper scored the goals for the Pats, with both coming in the second period.

  Daniel Wapple had another strong game in the Regina net, stopping 48 shots while Brandon's Jordan Papirny made 25 saves in goal for Brandon.

  The Wheat Kings will now face the Calgary Hitmen in the Eastern Conference Final, with the opening two games to take place at Westman Communications Group Place in Brandon on Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th.

  The Hitmen advanced Friday when Elkhorn product Travis Sanheim scored 7:45 into the second overtime period to give Calgary a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat and win their Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-1.

  Tickets for the opening two games between Brandon and Calgary will go on sale Monday morning at the Keystone Centre box office (726-3555 or www.keystonecentre.com).

Chaff...F Morgan Klimchuk returned to Brandon's lineup Friday after missing six games with an undisclosed injury and set up Patrick for Brandon's tying goal...Brandon scratched F Jayce Hawryluk, F Rihards Bukarts and Colton Waltz for the third straight game while F Quintin Lisoway (knee, out for season), D Mark Taraschuk and G Logan Thompson also sat for the Wheat Kings...both teams finished the night 0-for-5 on the power-play...attendance was 4,333...Kelowna moved into the Western Conference Final with a 7-3 win over Victoria Friday, taking that series 4-1...Blake Heinrich scored in overtime as Portland beat Everett 2-1 Friday to take a 3-1 lead in that Western Conference semifinal.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Wheat Kings' Depth Challenged as They Look to Advance


Ryan Pilon is the latest Wheat Kings' player
to hit the injury list.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings have a chance to move into the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference Final on Friday night when they host the Regina Pats (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  Brandon holds a three games to one lead in the Best-of-Seven as they look to use home-ice to their advantage to end the series Friday.

  "We're just excited about the opportunity.  Anytime you get a chance to close out a series and especially close it out at home in front of a home crowd, you're going to everything you can to win that game," said Brandon captain Peter Quenneville on Thursday, "The fourth game is always the hardest to win so we're excited for the challenge."

  Exactly what the Wheat Kings' lineup might look like for Game #5 Friday is definitely up in the air, and will likely remain so until closer to game time.

  Brandon did not practice Thursday, but defenceman Ryan Pilon is the latest to join a long Wheat Kings' injury list after leaving Wednesday's Game #4 in the third period after being kneed by Regina's Connor Hobbs.

  D Colton Waltz. F Jayce Hawryluk and F Rihards Bukarts have all missed the last two games with injuried and F Morgan Klimchuk has missed six straight games with an undisclosed injury.

  In their absence, the Wheat Kings have been getting some big contributions from younger players including Wednesday's overtime hero, Tanner Kaspick.

  "All the credit is due to our older guys.  They've really put us through the paces and they've really taught us how to be good players, especially down the stretch here and in the spring, how to be good playoff player and we're fortunate enough to have so much experience in that dressing room," said Kaspick on Thursday, "It really helps us out and I thnk we're just using their experience and just trying trying to do whatever we can to contribute."

  Brandon's sucess in their current series, and certainly in the playoffs as well, is that they've been able to take advantage of their opponents' undisciplined play.

  After being second in the WHL during the regular season with a 25.7% success rate on the power-play, the Wheat Kings have done even better in the playoffs, going 11-for-34 (32.4%) including a 5-for-17 mark (29.4%) in their series with Regina.

  More importantly, a lot of their power-play goals have come in key situations including the game-tying goal in Game #4 on Wednesday.

  "Something we talk about is never knowing when you're going to get another opportunity," said Quenneville, who has a team-high 15 power-play goals in the regular season and playoffs combined, "You might get one, and it might be in the first minute of the first period or you might get one in the last minute of the third period so anytime you get one, you have to be ready to make it count and that's just something that weve focused on and I think that's an important aspect."

  Brandon's penalty-kill has also been highly successful after looking like it was the team's achilles heal for much of the season.

  The Wheat Kings' are 29-for-35 (82.9%) in the playoffs after finishing the regular season by allowing just five power-play goals against in their last 12 games.

Chaff...Peter Quenneville is tied for the WHL playoff lead with three power-play goals...Brandon is 8-0 the last eight times they've had a chance to finish a playoff series...former Wheat Kings' captain Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators sustained a microfracture and ligament damage to his right wrist in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.  His availability for the remainder of the series is unknown...all four of the WHL's second round series on back on the ice on Friday night...former Wheat Kings' co-captain Braden Schenn was added to Canada's roster for the 2015 World Hockey Championship on Thursday.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Pats' Defenceman to Miss Game #5

A split second before Connor Hobbs hit on Brandon
blueliner Ryan Pilon (lifted from WHL Live)
  As expected, the Western Hockey League suspended Regina Pats' defenceman Connor Hobbs on Thursday for the kneeing major he was assessed in Game #4 of their series against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday night.

  Brandon defenceman Ryan Pilon left the game following the hit about 7 1/2 minutes into the third period and did not return.

  His status moving forward in the series is uncertain.

  The WHL announced the suspension's length as TBD, but Hobbs will miss at least Game #5 in Brandon on Friday night.

  He's the third Regina defenceman to be suspended in the 2015 WHL playoffs for an illegal hit.

  The Wheat Kings hold a three games to one lead in the Best-of-Seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Kaspick Makes Milestone Goal Memorable


Peter Quenneville scored the game-tying goal for Brandon
in Wednesday's contest.
  Tanner Kaspick’s first career WHL playoff goal was going to be one to remember no matter what, but the Brandon product put an exclamation mark on it on Wednesday night.
  Kaspick scored 3:36 into overtime as the Wheat Kings downed the Regina Pats 3-2 to take a three games to one lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
  Kaspick, who scored one goal in the regular season, looked off a hard-charging Macoy Erkamps going to the front of the net on an offensive rush and then snapped a shot home past Pats’ netminder Daniel Wapple.
  “You have those guys that are suited for this time of year and really seize the moment,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Tanner scored the winning goal tonight, but he had a great game all night and was excellent the entire hockey game and is just playing better and better and taking on more responsibility.”
  Kaspick and fellow 2013 Bantam Draft picks Nolan Patrick and Kale Clague made big contributions in the Game #4 win.
  Patrick scored a first period goal on a setup from Clague to give Brandon a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, while Clague saw significant minutes on the blueline in place of the injured Colton Waltz and, later, as a part of a five-man rotation once Ryan Pilon left the game in the third period.
  “The scouts should be proud of themselves tonight.  Those three kids were tremendous,” added McCrimmon, “Those are three players that are contributing now but, obviously, have great futures in our organization.”
  Peter Quenneville scored the other Brandon goal, a power-play marker 7:53 into the third period that tied the game 2-2.
  That goal came just 31 seconds after Pats’ defenceman Connor Hobbs was given a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on Brandon’s Ryan Pilon in the high slot in the Regina zone that resulted in the Wheat Kings’ defenceman leaving the game.
Tanner Kaspick reacts to scoring the OT Winner
  Colby Williams and Hobbs had scored goals two minutes apart early in the second period for Regina to allow the Pats to take a 2-1 lead that they carried into the third.
  Daniel Wapple made 45 saves in the Regina net including 19 in the third period while Brandon’s Jordan Papirny stopped 30 of 32 shots in the Wheat Kings’ goal.
  Brandon now has a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Final Friday when they host the Pats in Game #5 (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).
  “There’s such a difference going back 2-2 and a Best-of-Three staring at you versus 3-1 and a chance to win a series on home ice,” said McCrimmon, “It’s going to be a great night in our building and a great night for our fans and we want to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and play a really solid game on Friday.”
Chaff...Hobbs’ hit will automatically be reviewed by the WHL office for a possible (probable) suspension...the WHL finalized the suspension for Pats’ defenceman Sergey Zborovskiy at three games on Wednesday...Brandon F Morgan Klimchuk (undisclosed) missed his sixth straight game while D Colton Waltz, F Jayce Hawryluk and F Rihards Bukarts were all out of Brandon’s lineup for the second straight night because on injuries...F Quintin Lisoway (knee, out for season) and G Logan Thompson were Brandon’s other two scratches...Brandon product Jordy Stallard scored 7:22 into overtime as the Calgary Hitmen downed Medicine Hat 2-1 Wednesday to take a 3-1 lead in that Eastern Conference semifinal...Greg Chase got the overtime winner as Victoria beat Kelowna 5-4 Wedneday.  The Rockets still lead that Western Conference semifinal 3-1...the other Western Conference semifinal between Portland and Everett is tied 1-1 with Game #3 Thursday in Portland...the Kootenay Ice announced Wednesday that they and head coach Ryan McGill are mutual parting ways when his contract expires at the end of June...A bill that will exempt WHL players from being considered employees by labour law was passed by Washington State House Wednesday.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Wheat Kings Can't Solve Wapple


  Daniel Wapple stopped 39 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 3-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday night.
  Goals by Braden Christoffer and Taylor Cooper three minutes and 15 seconds apart early in the second period turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 Pats’ lead, and Regina managed to hold off the Wheat Kings’ attack for most of the rest of the way including a goalless third period.
  “The second period, we weren’t good enough on defence and we weren’t good enough on offence,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “They scored twice as a result and that was the different in the game.”
  The Cooper goal at the 5:08 mark came on a wraparound play to the front of the Wheat Kings’ net that the Pats were able to put home.
  Protecting the front of the net is something the Wheat Kings will be looking to do a little bit better moving forward.
  “Some of these things come down to two teams and one puck.  We just weren’t hard enough at the net,” said McCrimmon, “We let some shots through from the points in the second period that the forwards did a really poor job.  You have to pay a price to win, winning is hard and, in the second period, we didn’t do it.”
  Jared McAmmond and Stelio Mattheos, with his first career WHL playoff goal, exchanged first period markers that left the teams tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
  Peter Quenneville scored the other Brandon goal, a power-play marker with 1:28 left in the second period that got the Wheat Kings’ to within one at that point.
  Brandon could not get the equalizer in the third period despite carrying much of the play, particularly when they pulled goaltender Jordan Papirny for the extra attacker over the final 90 seconds.
  John Quenneville had Brandon’s best chance in the final frame, hitting the post with about seven minutes left in the third period.
  Papirny finished the night with 28 saves in the Wheat Kings net.
  The loss snapped Brandon’s six-game playoff winning streak.
  Game #4 is Wednesday night in Regina (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ), with Game #5 set for Friday back at Westman Communications Group Place in Brandon (7:30 p.m.).
Chaff...F Jayce Hawryluk, F Rihards Bukarts, F Morgan Klimchuk and D Colton Waltz were all scratched by the Wheat Kings due to undisclosed injuries...F Quintin Lisoway (knee, out for season) and G Logan Thompson (healthy) were the other Brandon scratches...Brandon was 1-for-3 on the power-play while the Pats were 0-for-1...the teams combined for just four minor penalties in the contest... tickets for Game #5 will go on sale Wednesday morning at the Keystone Centre box office (726-3555 or online at www.keystonecentre.com).