Tyler Coulter looks for a pass during a recent Midget AAA Wheat Kings practice. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Forward Brett Kitt wheels up the ice with the puck during a recent
Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings practice. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Brandonites Brett Kitt and Tyler Coulter believe the best way to make their Western Hockey League dreams come true is by focusing on the here and now.
The 16-year-old forwards are both WHL prospects in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ organization and, after being returned to the Midget AAA Wheaties following training camp, they feel their best way to get back is to be 100 per cent committed to the upcoming season.
Kitt, chosen by the Wheat Kings in the fifth round of the 2011 bantam draft, said there were no doldrums after he was sent down by the WHL club because he had a tryout with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Neepawa Natives and Midget AAA camp to worry about.
"I had to revamp quick because I was headed out to Neepawa the next day to practise with them and played a (pre-season) game with Neepawa, so I couldn’t sulk or get down," said Kitt, who will open the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League regular season along with the rest of his teammates on Friday in Thompson against the NorMan Northstars. "I had to be right back into it. And then I got back from Neepawa and I just had to show that I want to be in midget still; that I’m going to compete and not hang my head."
It helps that the Midget Wheat Kings have high hopes for the coming season. A club that finished second in the West Division with a 23-18-3 record last season has a solid base in returning talent that will be complemented by what is expected to be a strong group of rookies coming up from the Brandon bantam and high school ranks.
"I think we’re actually becoming a really great team, doing some nice team bonding together probably every weekend," said Coulter, who was added to the 50-player protected list by the WHL’s Wheat Kings early last season. "I think our team’s going to be very close and very team-minded this year."
The Midget AAA Wheat Kings are counting on Kitt and Coulter to be among their leaders, both on and off the ice this season. Coulter led the team with 26 goals and 47 points in 44 games as a rookie last season, while Kitt tied for second on the team with 18 goals and fifth in points, with 35.
Both are looking forward to adding leadership responsibilities this season.
"I just want to be the best team guy I can be and make sure we do everything we can to win our games," Coulter said.
Kitt said by focusing on his duties as a leader, he can help the team win and help his teammates reach their individual goals as well.
"I’m really excited to help out our younger guys and guide them through their first season in midget," he said. "Hopefully, I can help those guys enough so that they can go places, too. It’s all about the leadership, not just me but all the guys returning have to help together and be a big leadership core."
NOTES: The Midget AAA Wheat Kings, who went 5-1 in pre-season play, have named veteran defenceman Ty Webber as team captain.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 2, 2012