With the dark clouds of a five-game losing streak and today’s Western Hockey League trade deadline hanging over their heads, the Brandon Wheat Kings lightened up a bit on Wednesday.
The Wheat Kings followed up their regular practice with a bit of shinny against troops from CFB Shilo.
"Definitely, with everything going on and our struggle lately, it’s nice just to have some fun and get back to playing fun hockey," said Wheat Kings rookie Jack Palmer, whose team has lost five straight games and dropped to last place in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference at 14-25-2-2.
The Wheat Kings have gone to Shilo for some early-season team building with members of 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry the past few years and 20-year-old Brandon forward Mike Ferland enjoyed the chance to return the favour.
"Ever since I’ve been playing with Brandon we’ve always went out there and they showed us how it was to be in their shoes for a day," Ferland said. "And it’s great for them to come in here and see how it is to be a Brandon Wheat King for a day."
Ferland is one Wheat King who could probably use a bit of a distraction these days. Since being returned by the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames following Christmas, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Brandonite has joined Swiss winger Alessio Bertaggia as the Wheat Kings whose names have turned up most often in coffee-shop chatter as potential trade targets for the WHL’s contenders.
He can see the benefit to finishing his WHL career at home or having a chance at playing in a second Memorial Cup, so he’s taking all the trade talk in stride.
"Obviously, I’m thinking about it, but whatever happens, happens and it’s going to be exciting to see," said Ferland, who has a goal and an assist in four games since returning but has also missed three games due to injury.
"I’ve never had the feeling (of being part of trade rumours) so obviously it’s a bit different but it happens in hockey."
While the standings suggest the Wheat Kings should be sellers at the deadline, that’s not stopping the whole team from sitting on pins and needles, even the younger talent.
"It’s definitely nerve-wracking, but you just kinda have to focus on the task at hand and that’s winning games and practising hard, so I’m not too focused on it," said Palmer, adding that the deadline is rarely spoken about in the dressing room.
"There’s obviously rumours going around and what-not and you’re wondering what’s going to happen, but you can’t do anything about it."
ONE-TIMERS: Edmonton filled its vacant overage spot Wednesday by adding LW Trevor Cheek, who has 18 goals and 32 points in 39 games this season, from Vancouver for a second-round pick in this year’s WHL Bantam Draft. With an extra forward on the roster, the Oil Kings then shipped former Wheat Kings RW Klarc Wilson, 19, to Prince George for a third-rounder next year … Lethbridge has acquired D Mike Simpson, 18,from Kootenay for a fifth-round pick this year … Vancouver has shipped D Stewart Coyle, 17, to Spokane for a sixth-round choice in 2016 … There were six trades on the day before last year’s deadline. … Brandon LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb, who suffered a cut on his hand late in Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to Calgary, missed Wednesday’s practice, while C/LW John Quenneville participated in the session while wearing a non-contact jersey … LW Shayne Wiebe, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed an American Hockey League contract with the Connecticut Whale. The 22-year-old Brandonite had been playing with the Whale on a professional tryout deal.