JAMES O'CONNOR/BRANDON SUN
Brett Kitt scores on Curtis Honey in first period action Sunday during the Brandon Wheat Kings intrasquad game at Westman Place.
This hockey season is huge for Brandon Wheat Kings centre Jayce Hawryluk.
Not only is the 17-year-old Roblin native trying to follow up a solid team rookie-of-the-year campaign in which he netted 18 goals and 43 points in 61 games with the WHL club, he’s also trying to impress scouts enough to be selected high in the 2014 NHL draft.
Hawryluk got off to a good start in training camp last week, had a three-goal scrimmage on Saturday night and capped it off with a two-goal performance in Sunday’s annual intrasquad game at Westman Place to help lead Team Black to a 12-4 victory over Team White.
"It’s been a long week and with fitness testing and training camp coming to an end, it feels nice and I’m ready to get the season going," he said.
"Every year is huge, but this year is a special year and I need to play how I can play and be consistent out there. It’s my draft year and that’s always in the back of your head, but it’s a big year for sure."
While Hawryluk is looking to have a big season, rookie goaltender Jordan Papirny is looking to have a solid pre-season as he pushes incumbent Curtis Honey for the No.1 job.
Papirny was the better of the two goalies on Sunday, allowing only one goal in his 32 minutes, 18 seconds of playing time. Honey, meanwhile, was lit up for six markers before the pair gave way to Evan Robert and Logan Thompson, both of whom were re-assigned after Sunday’s contest.
Papirny believes his success with the Wheat Kings boils down to confidence. The 17-year-old Edmonton native admits he was intimidated at training camp last year, but this year he’s developed the mindset that he’s the best player on the ice.
"I think I’d be crazy not to envision myself in that (starting) role," he said. "I mean, you’ve got to put yourself in the best opportunity and whatever happens happens. I’m just here to stop the puck."
Team Black dominated the intrasquad game as Chad Robinson had a goal and three assists, while Elkhorn native Taylor Sanheim had two goals and one helper, and Jack Palmer added a goal and two assists.
Brandonites Ty Lewis and Brett Kitt, along with Connor Lukan, Taylor Cooper, Dakota Boutin and Neepawa’s Quintin Lisoway also scored for Team Black. New import Rihards Bukarts, Ryley Lindgren, Jens Meilleur and Aaron Kellogg replied for Team White. Bukarts also had two assists.
For Sanheim, it was important to get on the scoresheet as the 17-year-old forward struggled to find the back of the net in scrimmages earlier in the week. Sanheim felt getting used to the speed of the game in training camp was his biggest adjustment after playing the past two seasons in the Midget AAA ranks with the Yellowhead Chiefs, and he can’t wait to see what the speed of exhibition games will be like.
"You have to get used to that a little bit, but hopefully the next step is even faster so I’ll get used to that, too," he said.
Kitt is also desperate to make the Wheat Kings. After posting 25 goals and 51 points with Brandon’s Midget AAA Wheat Kings last season, Kitt hit the gym hard this summer and appears to be a step faster than he was during the WHL club’s training camp last year.
He’s putting a lot of pressure on himself as he prepares for the Wheat Kings’ pre-season schedule as he believes this is his last chance to make the team.
"If I don’t make it then I’m not going to be here, so it’s now or never," he said. "I’m just looking forward to going in there, playing good and hopefully making the team."
The Wheat Kings open the pre-season on Friday when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors at Westman Place at 7:30 p.m.
WHEAT KINGS ROSTER:
(34 players remaining)
Ht. Wt. Age
Curtis Honey 6-0 174 19
r-Jordan Papirny 6-0 170 17
Pos. Ht. Wt. Age
x-Kale Clague RD 5-11 181 15
Taylor Green LD 6-7 224 18
Rene Hunter RD 6-1 208 20
r-Mark Matsuba LD 5-11 180 16
Kord Pankewicz LD 5-11 202 17
Ryan Pulock RD 6-1 218 19
Eric Roy LD 6-3 195 19
r-Dominic Thom LD 6-2 186 17
Riley Van Horne LD 6-1 175 17
Nick Walters LD 6-2 202 19
Colton Waltz LD 6-1 187 18
Pos. Ht. Wt. Age
r-Jordan Bochinski RW 5-11 172 17
r-Dakota Boutin RW 6-0 172 16
ir-Rihards Bukarts LW 5-9 189 18
r-Duncan Campbell C 6-3 187 17
Taylor Cooper LW 6-0 186 18
r-Tyler Coulter LW 5-11 206 17
r-Jesse Gabrielle LW 5-11 201 16
Jayce Hawryluk C 5-10 190 17
x-Tanner Kaspick C 5-11 184 15
r-Brett Kitt LW 6-1 192 17
r-Ryley Lindgren C 5-11 183 17
Quintin Lisoway C 5-10 190 18
Tim McGauley C 6-0 182 18
Jens Meilleur RW 6-1 197 20
i-Richard Nejezchleb RW 6-2 210 19
Jack Palmer RW 6-1 183 18
x-Nolan Patrick C 6-2 180 15
John Quenneville C 6-1 186 17
Chad Robinson C 5-11 182 20
r-Taylor Sanheim LW 5-10 183 17
r-Braylon Shmyr LW 5-8 156 16
x — 15-year-olds ineligible to play full-time this season;r — rookie; i — import.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 3, 2013