With the longest road trip of the season in the rearview mirror, the Brandon Wheat Kings hope to start making hay at home.
The Wheat Kings arrived back in Brandon on Sunday night after two weeks out west and, after a couple of days off the ice, they’ll strap on the blades again today in preparation to start a five-game homestand.
The club went 2-3-1-1 on the road trip to sit at 7-6-2-1 for the season, and captain Ryan Pulock looks at this homestand as a good chance to move up the Western Hockey League standings.
"Being on the road that long, I don’t think we came back with the outcome we wanted," said Pulock, who leads all WHL defenceman with seven goals this season and is second in points, with 18 in 16 games. "I don’t think it was a terrible road trip, but having this chance of five games at home, hopefully we can put a few wins together and come back on track."
While the Wheat Kings came within a shootout goal in Saturday’s trip-ending 3-2 loss to the Prince George Cougars of going .500 on the excursion, they were outscored 33-19 over the course of seven games. Inconsistent play within games and at times ineffective specialty teams plagued the club throughout the trip.
Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk believes returning to a consistent routine at home will help the team work on the flaws that showed themselves over the past couple of weeks.
"We gave the guys a couple days off to get back in the routine," he said. "The school boys were back in school, we did some off-ice workouts and we’re going to get back to the regular practice time, which we haven’t had a lot of in the last two weeks."
On the road with a heavy slate of games, teams slip in the odd practice when they can, and goaltender Corbin Boes agrees that having more time to practice should pay dividends during games.
"I think we definitely need to really refine our game in practice here and just work out the inconsistencies we’ve been finding in our game here over the last few weeks," Boes said.
The Wheat Kings open the homestand Friday against the Moose Jaw Warriors, following that up by facing the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday (7:30 both nights, Westman Place).
The Seattle Thunderbirds, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos will also make their way into Westman Place over the next week and a half.
"It’s always a lot more fun playing in front of your home crowd," Pulock said. "And being away for that long, I think a lot of guys are excited to be back playing here."
ONE-TIMERS: Czech LW Richard Nejezchleb, who has missed the last seven games with a shoulder injury, skated with Gylywoychuk Tuesday ... Wheat Kings RW Jason Swyripa (wrist) has missed the past six games.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 31, 2012