With all apologies to ZZ Top, who bumped the Brandon Wheat Kings out of their home on Wednesday, Peter Quenneville hopes he’s done being a sharp-dressed man come game time.
Forced to watch from the stands for the past 10 games due to a pesky lower-body injury, Quenneville has designs on trading in his suit for a black and gold jersey when the Wheat Kings close the Western Hockey League’s regular season with a key home-and-home against the Regina Pats this weekend.
The 19-year-old right-winger practised with no restrictions Wednesday for the first time since his injury, skating on a line with Tim McGauley and Richard Nejezchleb.
The Wheat Kings, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference at 32-29-6-3, hope a strong weekend against the Pats will get them back in the playoffs after a one-year absence and Quenneville wants to do what he can to help.
"I think for me it’s good to get back, get my feet going back into game play," said Quenneville, whose team visits the Pats on Friday before hosting them on Saturday. "And playoff speed’s always going to ramp up in intensity, so I think these last two games, as important as they are, will simulate sort of a playoff atmosphere. So I think that’s big for me."
Quenneville has 16 goals and 45 points in 42 games this season, and his return would provide Brandon with a valuable offensive threat, particularly with top scorer Jayce Hawryluk suspended for the rest of the season.
"I think it’s never easy (returning from an injury), but there’s a lot at stake and we know that, so the expectation to play well and perform and to log big minutes is always going to be there," he said. "So I’m just looking forward to stepping back in and trying to contribute and help the boys get the wins this weekend."
ONE-TIMERS: RW Jens Meilleur, who has missed the past five games, returned to practice wearing a non-contact jersey yesterday … The Wheat Kings will hand out their team awards before, during and after Saturday’s game … The game will also feature a presentation to Lois Fowler’s provincial senior women’s curling championship team, which also includes Maureen Bonar, Cathy Gauthier and Allyson Stewart.