WHEAT KINGS FINISH PRE-SEASON WITH A WIN

IMG_0637.JPGPhoto by Brandi Pollock

Moose Jaw, SK (CKLQ) – The Brandon Wheat Kings capped off the WHL pre-season with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

The Warriors opened the scoring early in the 2nd period when Swan River’s Tristin Langan beat Jiri Patera on the powerplay.

The lead would quickly evaporate as Lynden McCallum took the puck off the ensuing faceoff, made a spectacular spin move to feed Ben McCartney back door who tied the game. The goal came just seven seconds after Moose Jaw opened the scoring.

Brandon would take their first lead of the game midway through the second period on an innocent looking play to the net. Baron Thompson flipped the puck towards the net and it pinballed in off Rylan Bettens leg and under Warriors goalie Adam Evanoff.

In the third, the Wheat Kings would get hemmed in their own end early and the Warriors made them pay. Tyler Smithies re-directed home a point shot to tie the game and send the game to overtime.

Despite a number of quality scoring chances, neither team could find the back of the net in overtime.

Ben McCartney would score the only goal of the shootout to lift the Wheat Kings to victory.

Jiri Patera made 22 saves in his WHL debut including stopping all three shooters in the shootout.

These two teams will meet again on Friday night when the WHL Regular Season opens on Friday night.

SCORING SUMMARY

1st PERIOD

No Scoring

Shots: 7-4 Brandon

2nd PERIOD

MJ – Tristan Langin  (Schuldhaus, Hamaluik) 3:22
BWK – Ben McCartney (McCallum) 3:29
BWK – Rylan Bettens (Thompson, Schneider) 11:12

Shots: 11-8 Brandon

3rd PERIOD

MJ – Tyler Smithies (Benson) 2:48

Shots: 9-1 Moose Jaw

OVERTIME

No Scoring

Final Shots: 24-21 Moose Jaw

SHOOTOUT

BWK
McCartney – GOAL
Burzan – GOAL

MJ
Buyalski – NO GOAL
STEPANOV – NO GOAL
POPPLE – NO GOAL

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BURZAN SHINES IN RETURN TO CLUB

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Photo by Brandi Pollock

Brandon, MB (CKLQ) – Brandon Wheat King forward Luka Burzan capped off a wild week with a three-point night (1G-2A) in a 3-2 pre-season victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday night.

Burzan took part in Ottawa Senators rookie camp last week played in a pair of NHL exhibition games, lost two teeth, scored a goal vs the Toronto Maple Leafs and then flew back to the Wheat City to rejoin his teammates for the WHL season.

The former Warrior played on a line with Baron Thompson and Rylan Bettens and the trio combined for five points and a +5 rating on the night.

Friday’s win was the Wheat Kings first of the WHL pre-season, (1-0-1-1) while the Warriors drop to 2-3-0-0.

Thompson and Caiden Daley rounded out the scoring for Brandon while Dylan Myskiw made 30 saves for his first win of the exhibition season.

Dalton Hamaluik and Tate Popple scored for the Warriors, who dressed three Hockey Brandon graduates in their starting lineup. Popple was joined by Daemon Hunt and Calder Anderson to start the game.

These two teams will meet again on Sunday in an afternoon affair to wrap up the pre-season. Game time is 5:00 MB time at Mosaic Place. (4:30 pre-game on QCountry Radio)

SCORING SUMMARY

1st PERIOD

BWK – Baron Thompson (Burzan) 15:01

Shots: 12-7 Moose Jaw

2nd PERIOD

BWK – Luka Burzan (McCartney, Thompson) 11:32
BWK – Caiden Daley (Burzan, Gutenberg) 19:48 5on3

Shots: 19-5 Brandon

3rd PERIOD

MJ – Dalton Hamaluik (Schulhaus, Bowman) 7:00
MJ – Tate Popple (Sekunda, Smithies) 14:56

Final Shots: 34-32

 

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BRANDON DROPS PRE-SEASON OPENER

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Photo by Brandi Pollock

Brandon, MB (CKLQ) – The Brandon Wheat Kings opened the WHL Pre-season on Friday night and dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Regina Pats.

The Wheat Kings who were the last team in the WHL to play an exhibition game jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Linden McCorrister picked up a loose puck on a penalty kill and beat Pats netminder Carter Woodside.

Neithan Salame would give Brandon a 2-0 lead when he finished off a three-on-one by snapping a shot over the blocker of Woodside.

Woodside would give way to Kyle Dumba between the pipes for Regina. Woodside stopped nine of eleven shots he faced while Dumba turned aside all 21 shots he faced.

The Pats would cut into the lead before the intermission when Nikita Sedov pinballed a shot past Ethan Kruger for his 2nd of the pre-season.

In the third, despite being outshot 17-4, the Pats managed to tie it up as Austin Pratt tipped home a point for his 2nd of the pre-season.

The Pats would end the game just 0:40 seconds into the extra frame as Pratt snuck a backhand shot past Kruger to complete the comeback.

Kruger played the full game for the Wheat Kings, making 25 saves. It’s expected Dylan Myskiw will get the start in Regina on Saturday.

Brandon finished the night 0/6 on the powerplay while the Pats converted on one of three chances with the extra man.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday night in the Queen City. Game time is 8:00 MB time. Reminder, the game will NOT be broadcast on QCountry 91.5. Fans wanted to listen to the game will have to CLICK HERE to listen to Phil Andrews and the Regina Pats broadcast team.

SCORING SUMMARY

1st PERIOD

BWK – Linden McCorrister (Unassisted) 6:12 SHG

Shots: 10-9 Regina

2nd PERIOD

BWK – Neithan Salame (Unassisted) 19:37
REG – Nikita Sedov (Schioler) 19:37

Shots: 12-4 Regina

3rd PERIOD

REG – Austin Pratt (Sedov, Gavlas) 11:42 PPG

Shots: 17-4 Brandon

OVERTIME

REG – Austin Pratt (Unassisted) 0:39

Final Shots: 31-28 Brandon

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CROWE’S NOTES FROM TRAINING CAMP FINALE

BWK.jpgPhoto Courtesy of the Brandon Wheat Kings

Brandon, MB (CKLQ) – The Brandon Wheat Kings wrapped up their 2018/19 Training Camp on Sunday afternoon with the annual Intra-Squad game, presented by Canad Inns.

Ridly Greig recorded a hat-trick for Team White but it wasn’t enough as Team Black slipped by with a 5-4 overtime victory.

I had a different perspective of the game, as I was working the time clock. As a result, I wasn’t able to watch the game from the vantage point I normally would. That being said, here is the scoring summary and a collection of thoughts from Sunday’s scrimmage.

SCORING SUMMARY

1st PERIOD

WHITE: Ridly Grieg (Chad Nychuk, Brett Hyland)
WHITE: Ridly Greig (Braden Schneider, Bode Hagan)
BLACK: Rylan Bettens (Ben McCartney)

2nd PERIOD

WHITE: Chad Nychuk (Bode Hagan, Brett Hyland)
BLACK: Noah Wagner (Nolan Ritchie, Jack Zayat)
BLACK: Jake Chiasson (Ty Thorpe, Jonny Hooker)
WHITE: William Highet (Drayson Collyer, Garrett Sambrook)

3rd PERIOD

BLACK: Schael Higson (Zach Wytinck, Jake Chiasson)
WHITE: Ridly Greig (Brett Hyland, Ty Ettinger)
BLACK: Luka Burzan (Caiden Daley, Stelio Mattheos)

OVERTIME

BLACK: Luka Burzan (Stelio Mattheos, Rylan Bettens)

-Ridly Greig is going to be a BIG TIME player in the WHL. The 16-year-old Lethbridge product scored a hat-trick, including a beautiful breakaway goal in the first period. The son of former NHL’er Mark Greig has continued to get better as camp has gone on.

-All four goaltenders played well on Sunday. I was particularly impressed by 16-year-old Connor Ungar. The Alberta native has had an impressive camp and capped it off with a solid effort on Sunday, including a number of big saves off goalmouth scrambles.

-I continue to be impressed with 2000 born Reilly Funk. The former Portage Terrier is a big body that moves well and has pretty soft hands. Rumor has it, there are some NCAA teams knocking on his door. It will be interesting to see where he ends up, especially with the Terriers hosting the 2020 National Junior A Hockey Championship.

-Ben McCartney has continued to build on his solid finish to the season. He may not be the biggest guy, but you notice him every time he is out there. The Portage native appears to have more confidence in his game and has shown several flashes of skill this week that fans didn’t see last year.

-Braden Schneider and Vinny Iorio are going to be two VERY tough players to play against in the WHL. Schneider has proved himself already and Iorio isn’t far behind. His size and skill should have fans excited for the future of the back-end.

-Speaking of defenseman, former Yellowhead Chief Chad Nychuk continued to catch my eye this week. He isn’t flashy, but he does the little things right. I think with some time he will be a solid WHL player.

-A tip of the cap goes to the over 200+ Wheat King fans who came out for the Sunday afternoon scrimmage. The building was buzzing all afternoon and the fans were rewarded with a thrilling overtime finish.

The Wheat Kings will take Monday off before returning to the ice on Tuesday in preperation for their first WHL Pre-season game on Friday night at home vs Regina. (7:30 on QCountry Radio.)

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HIGSON EMBRACING THE “GRIZZLED VET” ROLE

IMG_4070.JPGPhoto by Brandi Pollock

Branden, MB (CKLQ) – There is no one on the Brandon Wheat Kings that embodies the “Classic” hockey player look quite like Schael Higson.

When the 20-year-old defenseman smiles, you can see right through where his teeth should be, (the result of an errant high stick) and he’s quickly distinguishable on the ice with his long black hair flowing out of his helmet like Jaromir Jagr.

Higson who is in his 6th WHL training camp has a long resume in the WHL, splitting his career with Saskatoon and Brandon. The Grand Prairie, AB native comes into this season leading the team with the most WHL games played (262), seventy-one more games than the next guy (Ty Lewis – 191GP).

“Camp’s are physically exhausting,” said Higson. “You do become more mentally prepared as you go through it multiple times. Having the boys around to push you makes it easier. It’s hard but guys get through it.”

Known around the league as a hard-nosed, physical defenseman, Higson has embraced the role as the “elder statesman” on this rendition of the Wheat Kings. With Ty Lewis off to Colorado for the foreseeable future, Higson and Linden McCorrister are the two overage players left on the roster.

“I haven’t taken anyone under my wing yet,” chuckled Higson. “I just want to be there if a young guy is struggling with a drill I can help him out. We have a lot of smart young guys on this team. I just try to come in and support the boys and try to keep them going.”

Although he’s only been on the ice a handful of times at camp to date, Higson has been impressed with what he’s seen from his teammates.

“Its been really good. I’ve been impressed with all the guys. It’s not the fact that a lot of guys are in exceptional shape right now, it’s that I don’t think anyone is in poor shape. That is something we can be proud of and have confidence in going into the season.”

The Wheat Kings will continue with Main Camp scrimmages throughout the weekend, culminating in the annual Intra-Squad game on Sunday at 2:00 at Westoba Place.

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PLANTE HAPPY WITH GOALTENDING SITUATION

MyskiwDylan Myskiw – Photo by Brandi Pollock

Branden, MB (CKLQ) – “There is always someone that wants your job.”

That is the message that Brandon Wheat King’s Goalie Coach Tyler Plante is instilling into the minds of his goaltenders this week as training camp unfolds.

“That’s the thing you have to understand as a goalie,” said Plante. “There is always someone that is going to push you and who wants to take your position. When you take that mindset and know you have to better yourself on a daily basis to stay ahead of the competition that’s when you can achieve new heights in your game.”

The Wheat Kings will have plenty of competition in the crease over the next couple of weeks as 19-year-olds Jiri Patera and Dylan Myskiw battle with 17-year-old Ethan Kruger and 16-year-old Connor Ungar for ice time in the blue paint.

Myskiw took over the starters role late last season when Logan Thompson went down with an ankle injury. The Winnipeg native performed admirably and helped the Wheat Kings knock off the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round and force a five-game series with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

In 11 playoff games, Myskiw registered a 3.51 GAA and a .898 SVP.

“He (Myskiw) did a great job with us last year that’s no secret,” added Plante. “We were put in a tough position losing the starting goaltender, he answered the bell and did really well with his opportunity. He’s not the biggest guy but he presents himself big in the net. He’s very good on his feet and is a very coachable kid.”

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 10.55.23 AMJiri Patera – Photo courtesy of The Gazette

While fans and teammates alike got to see Myskiw shine in his short time in the spotlight, the scouting report on the new import netminder is a bit of a secret. Czech born Jiri Patera appears to be on a similar path to that of former Wheat King rear-guard Ivan Provorov.

Patera spent last season with Cedar Rapids in the USHL and posted a 3.24 GAA and a .901 SVP, a stat line that earned him recognition from the NHL level. The 6’2″ netminder was chosen in the 6th round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights and quickly made an impression at the team’s development camp that followed.

While he may only get a few sessions on the ice in Brandon before returning to the desert for Golden Knights Rookie Camp, Plante likes what he’s seen so far.

“He likes to be aggressive and be out at the top of his crease,” added Plante. “He plays a little different style than we are used to seeing on a daily basis in North America. He likes to stay on his feet as much as possible and has a high compete level.”

While just entering his third season as a WHL Goalie Coach, Plante knows a thing or two about competition. A former 2nd-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Plante was regularly competing with the likes of Roberto Luongo, Jose Theodore, Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom.

“Even as the backup for the Brandon Wheat Kings, you have 30 guys in Midget AAA Hockey that want your job,” Plante added.  “It’s a unique sport within the sport. You can’t walk around sulking about it. I played nine years of pro hockey and there wasn’t one year without adversity. Every one of these guys has to come to camp to compete for a job.”

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BWK Goalie Coach Tyler Plante makes a save in a game between the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Ethan Kruger hopes to earn a full-time spot with the Wheat Kings after a breakout year in his hometown of Sher-Wood Park.

The former 5th round Bantam Draft pick appeared in two pre-season games last year, earning his first WHL victory and returned to the club for the playoffs where he served in the role as backup to Dylan Myskiw.

After posting a .901 save percentage with the Sher-Wood Park Midget AAA Kings last season, he is hoping to make this trip to the Wheat City a permanent one.

IMG_5996.JPGEthan Kruger – Photo by Brandi Pollock

“Ethan has a poise and a calmness to his game…He’s cool as a cucumber,” said Plante. “He has this professionalism in his game that has the ability to calm his teammates and make them feel comfortable that he’s going to make that save for them.”

While many fans are focused on the three-headed monster that lies in the Brandon goalmouth, the potential netminder of the future is quietly going about his business in the background.

16-year-old Connor Ungar played his way onto the Wheat Kings protected list last fall and continues to impress. In 18 games in the CSSHL (Northern Albert Elite 15’s), Ungar posted a 1.76 GAA and a .918 SVP. While he may not be ready just yet to make the jump to Major Junior hockey, he is one step closer to achieving that goal.

“When he came to camp last year he just kept pucks out of the net,” said Plante. “He just continues to keep pucks out of the net. Our mindset was with some work, Connor is going to be a real good goaltender and obviously, he has put the work in up to this point.”

Brandon Wheat Kings Main Camp officially kicks off on Friday morning at Westoba Place. The first on-ice session is at 8:30am. All sessions are open to the public.

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TRAINING CAMP A CHANCE TO IMPRESS

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(Returning forward Luka Burzan battles for position in front of the Medicine Hat Tiger net last season)

Photo by Brandi Pollock

Brandon, MB (CKLQ) – You could feel a buzz around Westoba Place on Wednesday morning as the Brandon Wheat Kings opened up Rookie Camp.

Fifty prospects took to the ice to officially kick off the 2018/2019 WHL season for the Wheat Kings and while it took a few minutes to knock the rust off, the first practice session and ensuing game were a great start to the week.

“We’re looking to lay the foundation of this year through camp,” said Head Coach David Anning. “Getting off to a good start is important. We started off with fitness testing earlier this week, and I thought that guys came into camp in good shape and pushed themselves.”

While most of the Rookie Camp rosters are filled with players on the Wheat Kings protected list, having been acquired through trades, the listing process or the WHL Bantam Draft, there are a number of free agent players trying to make an impression.

“With Rookie Camp it’s an opportunity for guys to advance into Main Camp, an opportunity to get listed, to come away from camp with a positive experience or continue to advance into the season with us,” added Anning. “It’s an important week for everyone involved.”

Unlike years past, there are very few spots available for the taking on this year’s roster. Right from the goalie on out, the competition at training camp is expected to be intense.

“The reality is that there are no guarantees,” said Anning. “You can’t take anything for granted regardless of who you are. You have to compete hard and put your best foot forward. Everyone wants more opportunity and it’s up to them to show us they deserve more, that they push for more and can take on more.”

Wheat Kings Rookie Camp will wrap up tonight (Thursday). Main Camp opens up on Friday morning at 8:30. All sessions are open to the public.

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