Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Nick Walters will face the Everett Silvertips tonight for the first time since they sent him east at last season’s Western Hockey League trade deadline. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Taylor Green returned to his Western Hockey League roots on Tuesday when the Brandon Wheat Kings visited the Seattle Thunderbirds, and tonight it’s Nick Walters’ turn.
Walters will face the Everett Silvertips for the first time since being acquired by the Brandon Wheat Kings at January’s trade deadline. Chosen eighth overall by the Silvertips in the 2009 WHL bantam draft, Walters, 19, is playing what will likely be his last game ever in Everett, Wash., since the Wheat Kings only travel there once every two seasons.
"It might be a little weird, I think," said Walters, who has played in Brandon’s top defensive pairing this season, posting one assist, 18 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -5 in 14 games, mainly as captain Ryan Pulock’s stay-at-home partner. "It’s been on my mind; I’ve had it circled on my calendar for a couple months now. … I’m not going to try to do anything too unique or anything that I wouldn’t usually do. I’m just going to go there and play my game and hopefully we get two points out of it."
At 7-9-0-0 and with losses in the first four games of the six-game trip, the Wheat Kings could certainly use some points. Everett is not a team that has been giving them out willingly, either, with a 10-2-2-0 record that has them near the top of the WHL’s overall standings.
Walters said he respects by the job Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson — a Souris native — has done in rebuilding a team that hasn’t reached the 70-point barrier in the past three seasons.
"He was hired to get that team turned around," Walters said. "Like I said last year when I showed up here, I don’t have any hard feelings. He was hired to do a job down there, and he’s doing it the best way he can and it’s working for him."
"Not too many guys are left on the team," he continued. "They kind of redid the team, but I’ve got a couple buddies still left on the team, so it will be good."
Tonight’s game will be the last chance for the Wheat Kings to avoid going 0-5 through the U.S. Division. On Wednesday they gave up a power-play goal to Taylor Leier 52 seconds into the game and two short-handed goals less than a minute apart by Chase De Leo and Nic Petan late in the first period on their way to a 5-2 loss to the league-leading Portland Winterhawks.
Facing some of the WHL’s top teams on this road trip, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the club can’t afford to sit back the way they did Wednesday against the defending WHL champs.
"I just feel that we have to worry about playing our best game and I think if we do that, you give yourself a chance, but we didn’t do that," McCrimmon said. "That’s a disappointing aspect of the game to me is we stood around and watched for half the game."
Keegan Iverson and Brendan Leipsic also scored for the Winterhawks, while Rihards Bukarts and Ryley Lindgren replied for the Wheat Kings, who sat Jayce Hawryluk — one of their top offensive players — as a healthy scratch. Despite giving up five goals, Curtis Honey had a strong game in net for Brandon, making 48 saves.
ONE-TIMERS: The Wheat Kings haven’t gone winless through a U.S. Division road trip since 2003-04 when they had three losses and two ties … Brandon’s injury list includes C Tim McGauley and D Rene Hunter, who both have upper-body ailments … After they visit Everett, the Wheat Kings will wrap up their road trip with one game north of the border, visiting former Brandon G Corbin Boes and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m., CKLQ).
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2013