After an impromptu two-game absence, scoring leader Jayce Hawryluk is slated to return to the lineup tonight for the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.
The 17-year-old right-winger sat out a two-game suspension on the weekend and is scheduled to rejoin centre John Quenneville and either Jesse Gabrielle or Tyler Coulter on left wing on what has essentially become the Wheat Kings’ No.1 line tonight when Brandon battles the Kamloops Blazers at Westman Place at 7 o’clock.
"It’s never fun to sit out for any reason, but I am excited to get back at it (tonight)," said Hawryluk, who leads the Wheat Kings in scoring this season with 33 points (including 12 goals) in 29 games.
"I want to help the team out in whatever way I can and I’m looking forward to these next three games before the Christmas break. These are huge games for us and I think we need to get all the points going into the Christmas break."
The Roblin native was suspended last week after the Regina Pats requested supplemental discipline following Hawryluk’s unpenalized open-ice hit on Pats captain Kyle Burroughs, who reportedly suffered a concussion on the play in Brandon’s 5-4 victory last Wednesday.
"It’s the league’s call and they are trying to protect the players and that’s the call they made and I just have to live with it and move on," said Hawryluk, who also leads Brandon in plus/minus rating this season at +11.
The Wheat Kings (16-14-2-0) went 1-1 in Hawryluk’s absence, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Eastern Conference-leading Swift Current Broncos on home ice on Friday before bouncing back with a 3-1 road victory over the Warriors on Saturday in Moose Jaw, Sask. The Wheat Kings close out their pre-Christmas schedule with three straight home games versus Kamloops tonight, the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night and Moose Jaw on Saturday night.
"Every game is huge for us, especially on home ice, we have to bear down and be prepared for these next three games," Hawryluk said. "They are very important to put us over .500 going into the second half of the season."
ICINGS: Brandon RW Richard Nejezchleb, who leaves this week for the Czech world junior team selection camp, is tied for 11th in goals in the WHL with 19 in 31 games ... Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock is 11th in scoring among WHL defencemen with 10 goals and 26 points in 27 games, while Latvian LW Rihards Bukarts is seventh in WHL rookie scoring with nine goals and 22 points in 32 games ... The Blazers have called up 15-year-old Interlake Midget AAA Lightning C Jermaine Loewen, the club’s 2013 third-round bantam draft pick ... Tonight’s game is the first Rain Check Night of the season, as any unused tickets can be exchanged for gate admission, as well as the first two-for-Tuesday game of the year, with two tickets available for the price of one ... Friday’s game will feature the Wheat Kings’ annual Teddy Bear Toss to collect new stuffed animals for the Christmas Cheer registry.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 10, 2013