Brandon Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk wants his players to stay focused on the game plan for their final two games of the Western Hockey League pre-season. The Wheat Kings host the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight before completing the home-and-home series tomorrow in Saskatchewan. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon Wheat Kings are down to their final auditions before showtime next week in the Western Hockey League.
The rookies will be in the spotlight this weekend as the Wheat Kings wrap up their pre-season schedule with a home-and-home series against the Moose Jaw Warriors beginning tonight at 7:30 at Westman Place.
With 31 players still on the roster and the discomforting knowledge that some of them will be gone by Monday, it’s a trying time indeed to be a young WHL hopeful.
"No kidding," said 16-year-old forward prospect John Quenneville of Sherwood Park, Alta. "All the young guys want to make the best impression possible. We’ve got a lot of young guys here trying to battle for a spot and we want to put our best foot forward."
While the pressure is certainly there, 16-year-old forward Ryley Lindgren of East St. Paul believes the key is to concentrate on the games themselves and not the competition for roster spots.
"Obviously it’s a big weekend but I’m not looking at it any different than I am any other weekend, really," said Lindgren, who has played one of Brandon’s two pre-season games, registering an assist. "I’m just going to focus and bring the same routine to every game whenever I play this weekend … just try and bring that focus to the rink. I mean, it is a little different, but it’s not that big of a deal, I think."
"You can’t look at it as you’re being evaluated because then you’re going to be nervous," he continued. "You’ve just got to stick to the system, play your game and things will work out then."
The truth of the matter is that as big as these games are, they are not the final step for rookies attempting to make the team. The club often brings some extra players into the first few games of the regular season before settling on a final roster.
Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said the big thing the coaches are looking at right now is the progress the players have made during training camp and the pre-season.
"I think it’s important for (the players) to continue to develop," said Gylywoychuk, whose team opens the regular season a week from tonight against the Regina Pats. "We want to see how they’re going to take that next step. We tried to grow as a team this week and we tried to teach as much as we could as part of our foundation — how we want to play. We want to see what those guys are able to comprehend and grasp and see how they play the game."
The battle is particularly intense — and unpredictable — up front, where the Wheat Kings have 20 players vying for what will likely be 14 or 15 spots. Quenneville, who scored a goal in his only pre-season game last week, said those who can elevate their game will be the ones who stick around.
"They’re all good players and it just means you’ve got to work harder than the next guy," he said. "… I think it’s who can handle it the most; who can handle the pressure, the constant stress and who can keep building. Some guys can, and that’s the goal."
<B>ONE-TIMERS: Brandon is 1-1-0-0 in the pre-season, while Moose Jaw is 1-1-1-0 … Rookie Brandon C <B>Jayce Hawryluk, who missed the first two games with a concussion, took part in non-contact practice on Thursday … Regina has acquired
6-foot-5 D <B>Kade Pilton, who turns 18 in November, from Victoria for the rights to BCHL RW <B>Demico Hannoun, who turns 17 next month, and a conditional draft pick… Kootenay traded RW <B>Dylen McKinlay, 20, to Kelowna for a conditional 2015 fifth-round bantam draft pick.
ON THE ROSTER
The 31 players competing for spots on the Brandon Wheat Kings. Western Hockey League clubs normally carry rosters numbering in the low- to mid-20s during the regular season:
GOALTENDERS (3) Ht. Wt. Age
Corbin Boes 6-3 216 19
Curtis Honey 5-11 172 18
r-Jordan Papirny 6-0 175 16
DEFENCEMEN (8) Ht. Wt. Age
Rene Hunter 6-0 205 19
Ryley Miller 6-0 177 20
Ayrton Nikkel 6-1 201 17
Ryan Pulock 6-1 214 18
Eric Roy 6-3 190 18
r-Riley Van Horne 6-1 186 16
r-Colton Waltz 6-1 188 17
Tyler Yaworski 6-4 205 20
FORWARDS (20) Ht. Wt. Age
Daniel Asham 6-2 201 18
Alessio Bertaggia 5-9 165 19
Nick Buonassisi 5-10 188 20
r-Taylor Cooper 6-0 180 17
Dominick Favreau 5-10 194 20
r-Kailum Gervais 6-0 203 17
ir-Jayce Hawryluk 5-10 186 16
r-Kyler Hehn 5-11 180 17
r-Ryley Lindgren 5-11 165 16
r-Quintin Lisoway 5-10 185 17
r-Geordie Maguire 6-0 165 17
r-Tim McGauley 6-0 177 17
Jens Meilleur 6-1 190 19
r-Richard Nejezchleb 6-2 212 18
r-Jack Palmer 6-2 183 17
r-Kord Pankewicz 5-10 190 16
r-John Quenneville 6-0 194 16
Tyrel Seaman 6-2 217 18
r-Hunter Smith 6-1 185 17
Jason Swyripa 5-7 165 19
r — rookie; i — injured.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 14, 2012