Jayce Hawryluk doesn’t see the need to make any major changes just because he’s going through a goal-scoring drought that has matched the longest of his Western Hockey League career.
The second-year Brandon Wheat Kings forward hasn’t bulged the twine in his last 11 games. Hawryluk does have seven assists during that stretch, and although only two have come in his last five games, the 17-year-old Roblin native believes if he sticks to his guns his luck will change.
"I feel good," said Hawryluk, who has 13 goals and 29 assists in 41 games going into tonight’s battle with the Prince George Cougars (7:30, Westman Place). "A little bit snakebitten right now, but just been working on a lot of stuff in practice and it’ll come."
Likewise, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon isn’t concerned about Hawryluk, who can score goals in bunches as he proved with back-to-back hat tricks earlier this season.
"A classic case of a guy pressing a little too hard, getting scoring chances and hasn’t had one dropped in a while," McCrimmon said. "I think that both his suspensions kind of knocked him out of rhythm a little bit, I would say. He’d been going through a stretch where he’d been real productive, and he’s still getting points, but goal-scorers like to score goals and he’s dried up a little bit in that regard."
A candidate to be chosen in the early rounds of this year’s National Hockey League entry draft, Hawryluk has managed to post a plus/minus of +4 during his slump for a team-leading +13 overall, and the Wheat Kings have still proven capable of scoring goals and, more importantly, winning games. They’re 8-3-3-0 since he last scored on Dec. 10 — a span that also includes a three-game suspension — and have points in their last four contests (3-0-1-0).
"That’s all I’m worried about, winning the game, not whether I score or not," said Hawryluk, whose team has points in four straight games. "As long as we win the game, I’m happy."
Hawryluk will try to break out of his slump against the Cougars, although it appears he’ll have to do it with a new centre on his line. Team scoring leader John Quenneville suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos, and Ryley Lindgren filled his place in Friday’s practice, playing between Hawryluk and Richard Nejezchleb.
"Obviously it’s a blow to our team, losing a key player like that, but I think we’ve just got to step up to the plate," Hawryluk said. "Some of the other guys have to step up and work real hard. This is their opportunity with a guy like that out, and I think we all just need to work hard and stay with our systems and we’ll be fine."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon D Ryan Pulock, who missed Wednesday’s game because he was sick, took part in the first part of Friday’s practice but left before the session was over … Former Brandon RW Klarc Wilson is having the best offensive season of his career as an overager with the Cougars, with 19 goals and 21 assists in 50 games … G Ty Edmonds, who played with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Virden Oil Capitals last season, has been the Cougars’ starter as a rookie, posting a 3.81 goals-against average and a save percentage of .888 … The first 2,000 fans at tonight’s game will receive Matt Calvert bobblehead dolls, with doors at Westman Place opening at 6:30 … Former Saskatoon Blades co-owner and governor Jack Brodsky has been named this year’s recipient of the WHL Governors Award, and will be honoured prior to the team’s game tonight against the Swift Current Broncos.