Centre Tim McGauley is off to a bit of a slow start in his sophomore season after leading the Brandon Wheat Kings in scoring last season as a 17-year-old rookie. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Tim McGauley’s slow start offensively is not a concern for his coach.
McGauley accomplished the rare rookie feat of winning the Brandon Wheat Kings’ scoring title last season, coming on in the second half to finish with 17 goals and 45 points in 66 games.
That second-half surge, with 30 points in 36 games, suggested McGauley was capable of taking a big step forward this season. But so far, the 18-year-old centre from Wilcox, Sask., has managed only two goals and two assists in 10 games, including just one assist in his last five contests.
Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the statistics are not indicative of McGauley’s play.
"I think he’s been one of our most consistent players," said McCrimmon, whose team has dropped back-to-back games heading into tonight’s road tilt with the Moose Jaw Warriors (7:30, CKLQ). "He’s improved his all-around game a great deal and the offence will come. I’m not concerned with that at all. I think he’s been a real good player for us so far."
McGauley admits he gets frustrated at times, but like his coach, he said the best way to deal with it is by focusing on his overall game.
"For sure the points haven’t been really going my way this year, but I’ve got to keep doing my thing, working hard defensively," McGauley said. "If I keep my defensive priorities straight, the offence will come, so I’ve got to just make sure I keep working hard and don’t change anything from last year."
Making McGauley’s start more curious is that his linemates, import wingers Richard Nejezchleb and Rihards Bukarts, have been producing. Nejezchleb leads the team with seven goals and nine points, while Bukarts has seven points, although their production has tailed off in the last three games as well.
"They’re like a lot of our guys," McCrimmon said. "We’ve got the majority of our points on the power play. We need to generate five-on-five offence."
McCrimmon said he believes the McGauley, Nejezchleb and Bukarts line has had good chemistry, but he juggled his top three units for Tuesday’s practice, moving Jayce Hawryluk onto the line in place of Bukarts.
The trio worked well together last season and McGauley believes they can do it again.
"I’m familiar with those guys and we have good chemistry together," he said. "… They’re real good players. They work hard in the offensive and defensive zone, so I’m looking forward to playing with those guys again."
John Quenneville was moved to centre in the shuffle, with Bukarts and Taylor Cooper on his wings, while overagers Jens Meilleur and Chad Robinson were put together on a line with 18-year-old sophomore Quintin Lisoway.
ONE-TIMERS: A strength in their game only a week ago, the Wheat Kings’ special teams have taken a sudden turn for the worse, with their power play operating at 14.3 per cent (2-14) last week, while the penalty killers were only successful half the time (6-12) … Injured LW Jack Palmer skated in a non-contact jersey at the end of Tuesday’s practice … The Wheat Kings are 3-0 against the Warriors this season, including a 3-2 shootout victory over Moose Jaw Friday at Westman Place.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 16, 2013