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Wheat Kings face big test

The Brandon Wheat Kings have seen how the Edmonton Oil Kings can turn a small window of opportunity into a big lead.

In their first meeting with the defending Western Hockey League champions this season, the Wheat Kings trailed by a goal after the first period, but found themselves down by three after the second and the Oil Kings rolled to a 6-2 victory. In their next matchup, the teams were tied 2-2 at the midway point of the game before Edmonton reeled off three straight goals before the second intermission, cruising to a 5-2 win.

This will be the first visit to Brandon this season for the Eastern Conference leaders and Wheat Kings forward Nick Buonassisi said his team has a chance, but only if they limit their mistakes.

“(The Oil Kings are) a very skilled team and one little mistake and they’re down (in the Wheat Kings’ end) and they’re scoring a goal on us,” Buonassisi said. “The last couple times we played them … we were right in there in the game with them and then we had a couple mental lapses and they capitalized and then they just ran away with it. I think we’ve been pretty good lately, we’ve been minimizing our mistakes and if we can do that (tonight), we’ll be good.”

The Wheat Kings have started their seven-game homestand with back-to-back wins — 5-2 over the Regina Pats and 4-1 over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Oil Kings provide a much more formidable challenge, but Brandon head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said the Wheat Kings can’t be intimidated by their opponent’s record and accomplishments. Instead, he wants them to look on the game as an opportunity.

“Edmonton’s a very good team,” he said. “They’ve established themselves, they’ve got very good quality players on their team but they’re a team that can be beat. … It’s an opportunity for us to play against a very good team and see where we stand and I think the guys are looking forward to it.”

ONE-TIMERS: Wheat Kings C Chad Robinson, who missed Wednesday’s game due to the flu, practised on Thursday … Brandon will play without G Corbin Boes (knee, indefinite), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand, indefinite), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite) and D Tyler Yaworski (five games remaining on his suspension) … Former Wheat Kings goaltending coach Matt Cockell has been named the goalie coach for Canada’s national women’s hockey team for the 2013 world championship and the 2013-14 season, including the 2014 Olympics … Brandon general manager Kelly McCrimmon missed Thursday’s Sportsman’s Dinner as he was in St. Louis to watch former Wheat Kings star Wade Redden play in his 1,000th National Hockey League game.


Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 8, 2013

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