TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
The Brandon Wheat Kings stretch following their final practice of the season Thursday at Westman Place. The Wheat Kings visit the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight, then host them tomorrow to wrap up their Western Hockey League season.
The last order of business for the Brandon Wheat Kings this season is to move out of the basement suite they’ve occupied recently.
The Wheat Kings wrap up their Western Hockey League campaign with a home-and-home series against the Moose Jaw Warriors, tonight in Saskatchewan and tomorrow at Westman Place.
With a 23-39-4-4 record going into tonight, a pair of regulation victories would tie the Wheat Kings with the Warriors (24-36-4-6) and move Brandon out of last place in the Eastern Conference based on the tiebreaker format.
"It’d obviously be good to get the four points this weekend and that’s what we’re aiming for," veteran Wheat Kings forward Jason Swyripa said. "You never want to finish in last, no matter what, so we’re going to do what we can to kind of climb out of it here."
While the Wheat Kings will miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons and only the second time in 21 years, the list of things head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk will be looking for this weekend is fairly short.
"I just think the commitment to play, to give a solid effort over the weekend, be honest with your game and have some fun doing it," Gylywoychuk said when asked what he wants to see from his players. "Give a solid effort so the guys who are graduating can go out on a positive note, a high note, and the biggest thing is just play for the guys in your dressing room and play for the organization that has given you a chance to play all year."
These contests will be the last for 20-year-olds Nick Buonassisi and Tyler Yaworski in their WHL careers, while also being the final games as a group for the Wheat Kings’ six 19-year-olds, only three of whom can find steady work with the club next season due to the overage limit. The significance is not lost on Swyripa, who is still playing to earn a shot with the team as an overager in the fall.
"It’s going to be pretty tight," said Swyripa, who has two goals and two assists in the last five games to help Brandon go 2-1-0-2 in that stretch. "All the 19-year-olds are real good guys and I love playing with them and it’s hard to know that we might not be playing again next year, which is heartbreaking, but at the same time you want to do everything possible to make the team next year."
GRADING GABRIELLE:Jesse Gabrielle, who made his Wheat Kings debut in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders, was happy with his performance in his first WHL game.
"I thought it was pretty good," said Gabrielle, 15, who joined the Wheat Kings last week after concluding his high school hockey season in Minnesota. "I played all right in the ‘D’ zone, I got a couple chances, I got a couple good checks, but right now I’m just trying to focus on taking in as much as I can from the other guys in the locker-room."
ONE-TIMERS: C/RW Jayce Hawryluk practised Thursday after missing Wednesday’s game with an upper-body ailment, leaving C/LW John Quenneville (lower body) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) as the only injured Wheat Kings.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 15, 2013