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.

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.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Wheat Kings' Win Streak Ends in Kelowna

Quintin Lisoway scored Brandon's only goal Saturday
  The Brandon Wheat Kings saw their four-game winning streak end Saturday night with a 6-1 loss to the Kelowna Rockets.
  The final score might indicate a  more lopsided game than you would think but, it actuality, had the Wheat Kings had a few more bounces (at a few less crossbars) go their way in the opening 40 minutes, the final result might have been much different.
  Jackson Whistle stopped 31 shots in the Kelowna net and, without a doubt, was the game’s #1 star.  Whistle was at his best in the first period, denying the Wheat Kings’ Jesse Gabrielle on a penalty shot 58 seconds into the contest, stopping Nolan Patrick on a breakaway chance and making a diving glove save on Rihards Bukarts on a late first period Brandon power-play.
  He also made a flurry of saves right before the end of the second period including a point-blank stop on Tim McGauley that preserved a 2-1 Rockets’ lead.
  “Really well played game.  We gave up hardly any shots against (8 in the 2nd, 5 in the 1st),” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You couldn’t have asked for a better two-way game than we played in the first 40 minutes.”
  The battle between two of the top teams in the Western Hockey League proved to be a fast-paced affair and, prophetically by both coaches, was decided by special teams.
  Brandon went 0-for-5 on the power-play and surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals, the most costly of which was Nick Merkley’s marker 59 seconds into the third period that allowed Kelowna to extend their lead to 3-1, the first of four unanswered goals for the Rockets in the final frame.
  On the other side, the Rockets’ league-leading power-play scored three goals in the contest with two of those coming in the third period when Brandon’s discipline seemed to wane as the deficit grew.
  “Definitely a case of our special teams, for me in particular, our power-play not being as good as it needed to be, not rising to the occasion in any way, shape or form and, in fact, putting us in a hole,” said McCrimmon.
  McCrimmon also said on CKLQ’s post-game show that they can take a lot of positive out of the contest and that, through 40 minutes, certainly proved them can compete with the best in the WHL.
  However, he also says they need to learn from what they didn’t do well in the third period.
  The loss dropped Brandon to 10-3-1-0 on the season, still atop the East Division but two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
  Brandon will continue their road trip Tuesday when they visit the Victoria Royals (8:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).
Chaff...Whistle’s father Dave played four seasons with the Brandon Univeristy Bobcats...Brandon scratches F Richard Nejezchleb (suspension), F Ty Lewis (upper body), F Braylon Shmyr (healthy), D Mark Matsuba (healthy) and D Mark Taraschuk (healthy)...F Rihards Bukarts saw his nine-game point streak end Saturday while Peter Quenneville’s seven-game streak, Tim McGauley five-game streak and Ivan Provorov four-game goal streak also all ended...Rockets’ coach Dan Lambert will coach the Canada-Red team, whose roster includes Wheat Kings’ F Nolan Patrick, at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that begins next weekend...former Wheat Kings Wade Redden was among those in attendance at Saturday’s game.  Redden is involved in a new venture that gives tips to grassroots coaches.  You can check it out online at