In his first season with the Cougars and fourth year in the WHL,
Dallas Ehrhardt is serving as an alternate captain. (RALPH POSTERARO)
Having started his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Dallas Ehrhardt has seen first-hand what a grind a West Coast road trip can be for the Western Hockey League’s easternmost team.
In his first season with the Prince George Cougars, the defenceman is also quickly learning the demands of busing into the WHL’s most remote centre.
The Wheat Kings wrap up their two-week trip tonight against the Cougars — Brandon’s fourth game in five nights — and Ehrhardt knows his opponents might have some tired legs, but he’s not counting on that being much of a factor tonight (8:30, CKLQ).
"It’s always a tough trip for guys to go on, especially for Brandon there, being the extra distance out there," said Ehrhardt, who was a rookie with the Wheat Kings in 2009-10 before being traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors in the deal that brought Travis Hamonic to Brandon. "But Brandon’s always a team that always competes no matter what the circumstance is. So we’re making sure that we don’t take anyone lightly, even after the road trip that they’ve had."
The Wheat Kings had a 7-5-2-0 record going into Friday’s game against the Kamloops Blazers, which was still underway as of press time late last night. The Cougars, at 6-7-1-0, didn’t play on Friday and got Thursday off from practice after back-to-back home games against the Spokane Chiefs, including a 4-2 Prince George victory on Wednesday that snapped a six-game losing streak.
The Cougars have had a streaky season so far, starting off with a 5-1-1-0 record before their momentum-sapping slump.
Ehrhardt chalks that up to being a young team that has potential, but is still learning what it takes to be successful in the WHL.
"At the start of the year, we were maybe getting some bounces that won’t always be there, but we kind of went into that stretch there where we weren’t maybe fully committed to what we needed to do," Ehrhardt admitted. "But we knew we had a good team, and we knew it was just a matter of time till we figured out our play and got back into the winning column again."
Acquired by the Cougars from the Warriors during this year’s WHL Bantam Draft for defenceman Reid Jackson and a seventh-round pick in next year’s draft, the 20-year-old Calgarian has a goal and six assists in 14 games for Prince George this season.
He’s thrilled about the responsibility he’s getting with the Cougars and the chance to help groom the team’s younger blue-liners. And with this being his last game against the Wheat Kings in his WHL career, he hopes to make the most of his last crack at his former team.
"(Playing against the Wheat Kings is) always going to mean something to me," he said. "They drafted me and I went to camp with them for some time, so that’s kind of a big moment in my life so far. So every time I get to play them and maybe get back at them or whatever, it’s always an exciting game for me."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 27, 2012