Marek Kalus and Nick Walters made a good impression in their debuts with the Brandon Wheat Kings last weekend and for their encore, they’ll actually have the benefit of having practised with their new team.
Both players were acquired by Brandon at the Western Hockey League trade deadline last Thursday — Kalus from the Spokane Chiefs and Walters from the Everett Silvertips. They met their teammates on Friday in Moose Jaw, Sask., and were in the lineup that night for a 6-2 win over the Warriors. They both assisted on Brandon’s opening goal with Walters — a stay-at-home defenceman not known for his offence — picking up three helpers in the game.
"It’s kinda tough (to play on the same day as meeting the team) but I was real excited for the game so I didn’t really care," said Kalus, a 19-year-old Czech forward. "I just wanted to play and I think it was good."
Kalus and Walters left behind different situations with their old teams. Kalus’s Chiefs were enjoying a strong season, fighting for a top-four spot in the Western Conference, while Walters, 18, jumped from one rebuilding team to another.
While the Chiefs were contenders, Kalus himself was having a disappointing season. The third-year veteran was limited to 11 games and four assists with the Chiefs due to injuries this season after enjoying a breakout campaign in 2011-12 when he had 20 goals and 42 points in 68 contests.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound winger has skill, but primarily he hopes to use his size and work ethic to help the team.
"I just want to bring some energy to the team and really focus on the playoffs," said Kalus, who is staying in a billet home with countryman Richard Nejezchleb. "I really want to make it; that’s my goal."
Walters is also pleased with his first week in Brandon and a 2-0 record since his arrival.
"We got those first two out of the way. I thought I played all right, considering I never had a practice or anything," said Walters, who has three assists and a fight since the trade. "We have a good group of guys here. I fit in, I feel, pretty good so I’m happy."
The degree of difficulty is about to be raised as the Wheat Kings host the East Division leading Prince Albert Raiders. On Saturday, they visit the Saskatoon Blades, who loaded up at the trade deadline but have lost all three games since then.
Playing in the opposite conference, Walters has only seen those teams once per season during his WHL career, but he figures he should be up to speed on the rivalries quickly.
"You’ve got your own rivals in every division but every game should be the same," he said. "Maybe some are a little more heated than others, but you’ve just got to come to the rink and work as hard as you can every day and do what you can and hopefully come out with four points."
ONE-TIMERS: Swimmer Jason Norminton, who is also a locker-room assistant with the Wheat Kings, will be honoured tonight as with the Atom-Jet Group’s Innovator of the Month Award. Norminton recently competed at the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization’s World and International Championships in Italy, winning a number of medals.