Team White left-winger Taylor Cooper skates past Team Black left-winger Liam Gregor during the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp-ending intrasquad game on Sunday afternoon at Westman Place. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Tyler Coulter didn’t make the Brandon Wheat Kings this season, but he went out with a bang.
The 16-year-old Brandonite scored twice to help Team White rally for a 6-3 victory over Team Black in the Western Hockey League club’s intrasquad game Sunday at Westman Place.
"I think it (feels) great just being able to play with the older guys and showing that you can play with some of the top guys in the league," said Coulter, who is expected to return to the Brandon AAA Midget Wheat Kings this season after being reassigned later Sunday as the club cut its roster down to 32 players.
Despite the move, Coulter clearly made an impression over the course of the camp.
"Tyler had a real good camp," Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "He’s really improved, particularly his skating has really come a long ways. He scored a lot through our camp and really just a feeling I guess by us, and I think by Tyler as well, that he was going to need one more year in midget and a year from now we expect him to be coming here to make our team. If we didn’t know as much about him as we do, or have the opportunity to see him as close to home as he is, he’s a guy that we could have easily kept here for a while to continue to look at."
Veteran defenceman Eric Roy also scored twice, including an empty-netter, for Team White, while 15-year-old prospect Jesse Gabrielle and 20-year-old forward Nick Buonassisi added singles.
Gabrielle scored the opening goal, 8:56 into the game, but Black rebounded to take a 3-1 lead by the end of the first period, with rookie Kailum Gervais tying the game before second-year import Alessio Bertaggia added two goals 38 seconds apart — both set up by rookie Hunter Smith.
Jordan Papirny replaced starter Curtis Honey in the Team White net at the midway point of the game and shut the door the rest of the way, stopping all 17 shots he faced, while his teammates chipped away at the lead.
Trying to work his way into the club’s goaltending picture at the age of 16 — despite the presence of returnees Corbin Boes and Honey — Papirny said he’s anxious to take his campaign to the next level when the Wheat Kings open the pre-season Thursday in Regina before hosting the Pats the following night at Westman Place.
"I’m competing for a spot," he said. "Obviously, I’m in a tough position here, but I’m looking forward to pre-season and I love competing every day."
Buonassisi tied the game with 2:54 left in the second period and Roy netted the winner 2:04 into the third.
Now 18, Roy said he’s looking forward to becoming a leader on the team after finishing 10th among WHL defencemen in scoring last season, with 53 points in 69 games.
"Definitely being an older guy, an 18-year-old, you’ve gotta help out the younger guys," he said. "We were that young at one point. We looked up to the older guys and I’m just trying to model my game after those guys."
ONE-TIMERS: Boes made 19 saves on 20 shots for Team Black before being replaced midway through the game by rookie G Nolan Bray, who stopped 15 of 19. Honey made 14 saves on 17 shots … A couple of Wheat Kings rookies showed some grit after taking some hard knocks. C Jayce Hawryluk was shaken up after being pasted into the boards by D Colton Waltz, while C Kord Pankewicz was limping after blocking a point shot by veteran D Ryan Pulock, but both quickly returned to action … A trio of veterans sat out the game, RW Jens Meilleur (back), LW Dominick Favreau (back) and D Ryley Miller (sick). Also sitting out was 15-year-old D Tanner Browne (shoulder).
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 4, 2012