Hockey coaches often speak of the importance of getting timely goals from the power play.
Right now, the Brandon Wheat Kings would settle for any production at all with the man advantage.
Stuck in an 0-for-29 slump that stretches back to Jan. 18, the Wheat Kings will try to get their power play back on track in a home-and-home series this weekend against the Regina Pats.
The club has tweaked the power play this week, logging some extra time on it during practices, and forward Jayce Hawryluk hopes that the results will start to show in tonight’s game in Regina (6:35, CKLQ).
"We’re looking at a new look now. We switched our power play and it was the first time we tried it (on Wednesday)," Hawryluk said following the Wheat Kings’ 0-for-4 showing in a 5-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades. "I think we had a couple chances. It’s struggling right now but we have the potential to have a good power play. We’ve got some good skill on it and I think it’ll come around."
The recent dry spell has knocked Brandon’s power-play efficiency down to 14.0 per cent, putting them last in the Western Hockey League in both specialty teams (their penalty-killing unit has been successful 70.6 per cent of the time this season).
Defenceman Eric Roy believes a simpler mindset will help the Wheat Kings take advantage of their chances.
"I think it needs to be a lot better. Last in the league is kinda disappointing, but we’ve been working at it every day," he said. "We come out for power play every time before practice. It’s going to get better. We’ve just got to do simple things, get pucks on net and make crisp passes and hopefully pucks will start going in for us."
With three straight losses, the Wheat Kings sit last in the Eastern Conference with an 18-30-2-2 record. They’re two points behind the Pats (18-27-3-3) and have fallen 13 points out of the playoff picture.
Some specialty teams production could certainly help to kickstart an offence that has six goals in the past five games and hasn’t scored more than twice in any of the last eight contests.
Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk admits his team is lacking some confidence offensively right now and he believes the only way to get that is by putting in the requisite work.
"Confidence is big in any athlete or any sport for sure, especially in the game of hockey," he said. "… I think we’re squeezing our sticks a little bit more (tightly). We’re trying some different things and we’re learning through the process of it. I think all it is is a matter of getting some reps, getting some chances, getting some different looks and I think of being able to execute and we need one to fall in. We need to get a bounce here and that’s going to be through hard work."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon finished Thursday’s practice with only 15 skaters as D Ryan Pulock, who has been playing with a cast on his hand, was given the day off, while D Tyler Yaworski, who sat out Tuesday’s practice but played on Wednesday, was on the sidelines again. C Jayce Hawryluk left midway through practice with a minor injury … Also out were RW Jason Swyripa (ill), G Corbin Boes (knee) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion), while RW/LW Richard Nejezchleb (hand) skated after practice … Kamloops D Joel Edmundson, a Brandonite, has been suspended four games for his checking to the head major on Wednesday in Portland.