Brandon’s Jayce Hawryluk has been named the WHL’s player of the week. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock has been picked to play for Team WHL. ((IM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon Wheat Kings Jayce Hawryluk and Ryan Pulock celebrated a long-awaited day off with some big news Monday.
Hawryluk was named the Western Hockey League’s player of the week, while Pulock was picked to play for Team WHL in this month’s Subway Super Series versus Team Russia.
Hawryluk had quite the eventful week, going from head coach Kelly McCrimmon’s dog house as a healthy scratch to the top performer in the league, all in a span of a few days. Hawryluk, a 17-year-old forward from Roblin, was sat out in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the league-leading Portland Winterhawks, but bounced back with back-to-back hat tricks to lead the Wheat Kings to a 6-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips on Friday night and a 6-2 triumph over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon to wrap up a tough six-game West Coast road trip with a 2-4 record.
"It was a lot of ups and downs and we weren’t doing so well, we weren’t winning and after being sat for a game for just not doing what I can do out there and not playing the game the right way, I really keyed into the little things and the right things out there," said Hawryluk, who had six goals, eight points and a +4 plus/minus rating in three games. "And I think we really realized we needed to get a couple of wins on the road and we all beared down and we all worked hard and stuck to the systems and got the two wins at the end."
Hawryluk leads the Wheat Kings in scoring with nine goals and 19 points in 17 games, but is quick to credit his new linemates, centre John Quenneville and left-winger Jack Palmer.
"I was really working hard and playing alongside John Quenneville and Jack Palmer. They are great linemates and I couldn’t have done it without them and they were great out there as well," Hawryluk said. "They were working hard and their compete level was high and I think we just worked hard for our opportunities to score and when we had the chances, we put the puck in the net."
Meanwhile, Pulock was picked to play for Team WHL in the Subway Super Series versus the Russian juniors for the third straight year. The Super Series is one of the last chances to impress Hockey Canada before the world junior team tryout roster is finalized and the Wheat Kings captain is determined to perform well.
"The Super Series is kind of one step in the process of the world junior team and it gives the scouts a chance to watch you at a high level and I’ve played in a couple before and they are a great experience, so I was definitely happy to be chosen again this year," said Pulock, who has five goals and 12 points in 13 games this season. "Obviously, the Russians play a little different style of game than us Canadians, so it’s good to see how you match up and it’s a fun experience. And at the same time, it’s a game that really matters for the whole world junior process."
Picked in the first round (15th overall) in this year’s NHL draft by the New York Islanders, the 19-year-old defenceman from Grandview wants to don three jerseys this year — the Islanders, Wheat Kings and Team Canada.
"Obviously, it’s a big goal of mine," said Pulock, who will also be honoured on Friday night when Pulock bobbleheads will be handed out to the first 2,000 fans in attendance. "It would be a huge honour to be a part of the world junior team and as a kid growing up, that’s kind of one tournament that I’ve always watched, as I’m sure a lot of Canadians do. So it would be a huge honour and is kind of what I have been working towards here, so hopefully I will have a good game and see where that takes me through the whole process."
Pulock was the lone Wheat King picked for Team WHL, which will face Team Russia on Wednesday, Nov. 27 in Red Deer, Alta., and Thursday, Nov. 28 in Lethbridge, in Games 5 and 6 of the series featuring the top junior candidates in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
Hawryluk and Pulock will enjoy a couple of days off before the Wheat Kings (9-9-0-0) return to practice on Wednesday to prepare to face the Saskatoon Blades (7-10-0-2) in a rare Thursday game at Westman Place (7 p.m.).
"They are a good team and I think we’re not going to underestimate them," Hawryluk said. "They came in and they beat us before and I think we owe them one and I think when they come here on Thursday, I think we are going to be fired up and taking the momentum we got from this road trip into the game at home. And I think we are ready for the challenge."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 5, 2013