EDMONTON — A handful of Brandon Wheat Kings are having no trouble making themselves at home for their Western Hockey League playoff series against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Wheat Kings, who opened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal last night in Edmonton, have four players from the Alberta capital on their roster in brothers John and Peter Quenneville and the goaltending duo of Jordan Papirny and Curtis Honey. Additionally, defenceman Colton Waltz (Vermilion, Alta.) and Kord Pankewicz (Drayton Valley, Alta.) also grew up in the area. Braylon Shmyr (Calgary) and midget call-up Kale Clague (Lloydminster) are the other Albertans on Wheat Kings.
"Rexall’s a really fun place to play, especially with having my friends and family in the building," said John Quenneville, who entered the series second on the Wheat Kings in playoff scoring, with three goals and six assists in four games, and tied for the WHL lead with a plus/minus of +9. "It’s going to be real exciting for me and I know all of the Edmonton guys are really excited for it, too."
Papirny, Honey and John Quenneville all went through Edmonton’s Southside Athletic Club system, while Peter Quenneville played for Maple Leaf Athletic Club and was later named the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s most valuable player as a member of the nearby Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Honey started both of the Wheat Kings’ games in Edmonton during the regular season, but Papirny has taken over as the team’s No.1 goalie in the playoffs, and he’s excited to get a chance to play in his hometown.
"I’ve never played at Rexall this year, so it’ll be really special, especially for playoffs," said Papirny, who posted a 3.00 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage, backstopping the Wheat Kings to a sweep of the Regina Pats in the first round of the post-season.
"Any time you get to play at home is obviously special (and) to have family and friends come out and support you is awesome," Papirny said.
All the local ties should help the Wheat Kings enjoy a little extra support from the stands for the games in Edmonton.
"I always joked there’s only a certain amount of Number 17 jerseys and they’re always at the Edmonton games, so I’m excited for that," laughed John Quenneville, who wears that number for the Wheat Kings.