Sunday, 4 October 2015

Wheat Kings' Power-Play Busts Out in Big Way

Jayce Hawryluk had a big night Saturday in Regina.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings’ power-play busted out in a big way Saturday night, thanks in large part to Jayce Hawryluk.

  The club scored four power-play goals en route to a 6-0 victory over the Regina Pats, with Hawryluk scoring four goals and adding an assist on the night.

  Three of Hawryluk’s goals came on the power-play, with the Florida Panthers’ draft pick scoring a first period natural hat-trick before tying his career high with a fourth goal early in the second period.

  “He was really good based how competitive he was at the net, based on how he found pucks and obviously a four-goal night,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Just was on the puck the whole night.”

  Reid Duke and  John Quenneville also scored for Brandon, with Quenneville adding two assists for a three-point night.

  The Wheat Kings entered the game having gone 0-for-18 with the man advantage in the first three games of the regular season.

  “I wasn’t concerned about our power-play after the opening weekend because we still had people coming back to our lineup,” said McCrimmon, “I was sure disappointed after our game against Calgary so it was real good to break through the way that we did.”

  Nolan Patrick added three assists for Brandon while Macoy Erkamps, Kale Clague and Ivan Provorov all added a pair of assists each.

  Jordan Papirny made 16 saves for his seventh career shutout, tying him with Byron Penstock for fifth-place on the Wheat Kings’ all-time list.

  Brandon is back in action Tuesday when they start a four-game home stand by hosting the Vancouver Giants (7:00 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place). expected, the WHL suspended Brandon F Rihards Bukarts for the checking-from-behind major he got in Friday’s loss to Calgary.  The length of the suspension has yet to be determined...with Bukarts suspended, the Wheat Kings were only allowed to dress two 20-year old players (Erkamps and Colton Waltz) addition to Bukarts, Brandon also scratched F Tim McGauley (upper body), F Garrett Armour (healthy), F Linden McCorrister (healthy), D Dominic Thom (healthy) and F Quintin Lisoway (healthy)...Saturday’s game was the 32nd time the Wheat Kings and Pats had met since September of 2013 (pre-season, regular season and playoffs).  Brandon is 24-7-1 in those games...the Pats were without GM/Head Coach John Paddock on Saturday as the Oak River, Manitoba product was in Winnipeg being inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Wheat Kings' Comeback Falls Short

  Special teams proved key in the Brandon Wheat Kings' 3-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night.

  The Wheat Kings surrendered a shorthanded goal and a pair of power-play markers while also going 0-for-6 with the man advantage themselves.

  "Our special teams have cost us two of the three games that we've played so far, the combination of our power-play and our penalty-kill," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ's post-game show, "I thought out penalty-kill was good tonight just took too many penalties.  Eventually, you just don't do as good a job on your kill when you take seven or whatever it was we ended up with as you do when you take four."

  The parade to the penalty box was particularly relevant in the second period when the teams combined for 13 minors plus a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct to Brandon import Rihards Bukarts which will likely result in a suspension.

  That also doesn't include the teams starting the middle frame 4-on-4 thanks to coincidental penalties at the end of the first period.

  Macoy Erkamps and Colton Waltz scored for Brandon in the final 7 1/2 minutes of regulation after the Wheat Kings had fallen behind 3-0, thanks in part of a pair of Calgary power-play goals earlier in the third period.

  "I thought we had a pretty good start there and then all the penalties slowed us down there a bit," said Brandon centre Nolan Patrick, who had two assists, "I think our power-play has to be a lot better if we want to win games because we're losing special teams battles here."

  Brandon went 0-for-6 on the power-play for the third consecutive game Friday, including being on the man advantage over the final two minutes of the third period.

  The Wheat Kings will look to rebound Saturday when they hit the road for a matchup against the Regina Pats (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).

Chaff...Elkhorn product Travis Sanheim draw a pair of assists for Calgary and finished plus-one on the night...Brandon scratches F Tim McGauley (upper body), F Dario Winkler (healthy), F Quintin Lisoway (healthy), F Garrett Armour (healthy), F Linden McCorrister (healthy) and D Mark Matsuba (healthy)...attendance Friday was 4,278.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Shmyr Hoping to Take Off

Braylon Shmyr (in green)
  Braylon Shmyr is hoping a strong finish last season will lead to offensive success this year.

  The third-year Wheat Kings' forward had 13 goals and 29 points in 34 second half games in 2014-2015, and also tied for the team-lead with four goals in the pre-season last month.

  "I just learned from last year, what I did, and just need to bring that to this year and add on to it to help me play a lot better," said Shmyr after Thursday's practice.

  While it didn't pay immediate dividends with points on the opening weekend of the regular season, Shmyr was on the ice for four even-strength goals for during the club's home-and-home series against Swift Current.

  Shmyr, Brandon's first round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft, continues to play in a top-6 forward role and is also seeing time on the club's power-play units so far this season.

  "I'm not too worried about that.  It's going game-by-game here, getting better from it and just getting better each game," said Shmyr, "The coaches have confidence in me if I'm playing in those roles.  I just have to prove to them that I can stay in those roles and contribute to the team."

  The Wheat Kings went 0-for-12 with the man advantage last weekend, but the club did spend time in practice on the power-play this week.

  Brandon is back in action Friday night, hosting the Calgary Hitmen (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

  It'll mark the season debut for John Quenneville and the home season debut for Jayce Hawryluk, a pair of fourth-year forwards that are likely playing their final seasons of junior hockey.

  "Three years has flown by.  You look back on it and just seems like yesterday that I was coming to goes by super quick and I'm going to enjoy this year," said Hawryluk, "We've got a good group of guys here.  We're just going to try and stay healthy...we've got the team to do it, so we just have to put the work forward every day."

  Friday's game is not only a rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference Final but is also a matchup between the #1 and #4 ranked teams in the Canadian Hockey League.

Chaff...Tim McGauley (shoulder) is listed as week-to-week on the WHL's injury report and isn't expected to play this weekend...Brandon defenceman Kale Clague was rated an A prospect (1st round potential) and Wheat Kings' forward Tanner Kaspick a C prospect (4th, 5th or 6th round potential) in the NHL Central Scouting Service's preliminary Players to Watch list that was released earlier this week...Friday night is Manitoba Hydro Fridge Magnet Giveaway night, with the first 2,500 fans attending Friday's game receiving a Wheat Kings' 2015-16 Fridge Magnet Schedule.

Wheat Kings bring in Armour

Garrett Armour
  Garrett Armour is now a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

  The club acquired the Winnipeg product from the Saskatoon Blades Thursday in exchange for a conditional 10th round pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft.

  "He's experienced, been in the league for a year.  Size and strength, good skater and I think he'll give us more depth at the forward position," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Thursday afternoon, "Guys like Garrett, sometimes its about fit and we'll see if there's a fit for him here.  We think he's got something to offer."

  Armour had one goal and six points in 45 games with the Blades last season and had yet to see any regular season action this year.

  "Saskatoon have got a lot of young players that they need to have ice for and get opportunity," said McCrimmon, "When I refer to the fit, sometimes there's a fit one place when there isn't in another.  He'll see how he looks with our group and go from there."

  The 6-foot-2, 212 pound winger is expected to arrive in Brandon Thursday and could be in the Wheat Kings' lineup this weekend.

  Brandon will host the Calgary Hitmen Friday (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place) in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Final and a meeting between the current #1 (Wheat Kings) and #4 (Hitmen) ranked teams in the Canadian Hockey League.

  The Wheat Kings will then pay a visit to the Regina Pats on Saturday.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Communication and Teamwork Keys to Success

  The Brandon Wheat Kings got a taste of being soldiers on Monday, spending the day at CFB Shilo for their annual 'Solider for a Day' team building event.

  The players participated in a number of activities including the obstacle course, casualty evacuations and small arms training.

  "To get to experience what the base is all about and what these guys through day-to-day and how they serve all of use on a regular basis," said Brandon assistant coach David Anning, "It's exciting to spend the day for them and it also provides us an opportunity to do some team-building, enjoy a day away from the rink, spend the day outside and really get to know each other and work together on different tasks."

Rihards Bukarts leads teammates in a casualty evacuation drill
Monday at CFB Shilo.
  The 'Solider for a Day' initiative between the Wheat Kings and CFB Shilo began in 2010, the season after the club hosted the Memorial Cup.

  There's always a parallel made between the military and sports team, generally regarding teamwork and trust, and a trip like this may increase the team's camaraderie moving forward.

  "Communication is key.  Any good hockey player will tell you...communication on the ice, on the bench, being together as a team and working together as a team is really important to make the club successful," said captain Kelly Holden of CFB Shilo, who also serves as president of Shilo Minor Hockey, "We tried to relate that in everything we've done here."

  Among the tasks the Wheat Kings experienced were guiding blindfolded teammates to set up a tent, and an exercise where a player fell backward from about eight feet as was caught by his teammates.

  Since the Memorial Cup, the ties between CFB Shilo and the hockey club have grown significantly.

  In addition to hosting a Remembrance Day game and helping to raise money for the United Way's Community Fund that supports military families, the Wheat Kings and Team Kirkland (Glen Kirkland of Royal Lepage Realty) send one military family to each regular season home game this season, in recognition of their outstanding service to Canada.

Chaff...the Wheat Kings announced Monday that they'd sold 2,679 season tickets ahead of Friday's home opener, up about 300 from last season...single game tickets for the Wheat Kings' remaining 35 home games go on sale Tuesday at 10:00 a.m...former Wheat King Colby Robak signed an AHL deal with the Rochester Americans on Monday...NHL Central Scouting Service will release their preliminary 'Players to Watch' list on Tuesday.