Goal No.1 for the Brandon Wheat Kings’ forwards tonight is to get some goals.
The Western Hockey League club has managed to score only five times during its three-game losing streak and all five of those goals have come from blue-liners Eric Roy and Ryan Pulock.
With back-to-back games against the Kootenay Ice coming up tonight and tomorrow at Westman Place, Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said generating more goals will require some improvement even before the team hits the offensive zone.
"I think sometimes what we’ve got to do is have a little bit more support (for the puck carrier) coming through the neutral zone," said Gylywoychuk, whose team was shut out 3-0 by the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday to fall to 2-3 on their homestand and 20-34-2-2 for the season. "I think we’ve got to have a little bit more pace coming up the ice and then when we get the puck in the other zone we’ve got to put pucks on net to get them to look for second chances.
"I think we’re a bit (guilty) sometimes where we miss the net and we start the breakout for the other teams or we take shots and the goalie stops it and smothers it and there’s a faceoff right away. What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to establish a territorial game."
Gylywoychuk isn’t counting on those points of emphasis to produce offence themselves. The Wheat Kings also gave their lines a fairly significant shake-up for Thursday’s practice, shuffling all four forward units.
"We’ve had some trouble scoring up front and we’ve just put guys in different spots," he said. "We’ll see how they are and if it works then we’ll try it for the game and if not we’ll go back to something that’s a little more comfortable."
The Wheat Kings played on Wednesday without their leading scorer, rookie Jayce Hawryluk, who sat out due to school issues. He practised on a line with Geordie Maguire and Quintin Lisoway yesterday, although Gylywoychuk wouldn’t confirm whether the talented 16-year-old would be back in the lineup for tonight’s game.
Winger Marek Kalus, who skated with Jason Swyripa and Jack Palmer on Thursday, said the players can’t allow the offensive struggles to discourage them.
"It’s frustrating but we have to work hard," he said.
"I think it’s all starting in practice. We need to shoot the puck more and hopefully it will come."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon D Tyler Yaworski will complete his six-game suspension on Saturday, while G Corbin Boes (knee), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) are also out … Tonight will be the first game in Brandon for D Landon Peel of Virden since Kootenay called him up from Swan Valley of the MJHL in January.