Sporting a 3-1 record since making a trio of deals at the WHL’s trade deadline, the Brandon Wheat Kings host one of the three players they dealt away tonight at Westman Place.
Former Wheat King left-winger Michael Ferland returns home to Brandon tonight for the first time as a member of the Saskatoon Blades, since being traded for a first-round WHL bantam draft pick on Jan. 10.
The Wheat Kings (17-26-2-2) held Ferland off the scoresheet in their first meeting Saturday night in Saskatoon on the way to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Blades (22-20-0-3) and complete the home-and-home set tonight at 7 o’clock.
"It’s Mike’s home town and I think he’s going to be for sure excited about playing and we’re going to play against Mike and play against him as a team and see what happens," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk.
Ferland is looking forward to returning to Westman Place.
"I have a lot of memories in that barn," Ferland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix yesterday. "The fans have always been great to me there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of them again."
The Wheat Kings expect to again be without captain Ryan Pulock (cracked bone in his hand), Czech forward Richard Nejezchleb (hand laceration) and centre Tyrel Seaman (concussion), while right-winger Jens Meilleur (lower-body injury) and centre John Quenneville (flu) both missed Monday’s practice and will be game-day decisions tonight. Gylywoychuk said Nejezchleb will receive an update from his doctor today, while Pulock is slated to see a physician on Wednesday.
The Wheat Kings are nine points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, currently held by Saskatoon, and could trim that deficit to seven points tonight or could slip 11 points out with 24 games remaining. While they are looking to build off of Saturday’s shootout win, they are expecting a tough test from the Blades tonight.
"Any time you face an experienced team like Saskatoon, you’ve got to be ready to play and we’ve got to make sure that we come ready with a good work ethic, limit our mistakes and we’ve got to make sure we come prepared," Gylywoychuk said.
ICINGS: LW Michael Ferland has one goal, three points and two penalty minutes in five games since joining the Blades ... Former Blades C Tim McGauley leads the Wheat Kings in goals with 14 ... D Nick Walters has three assists and a game-winning shootout goal in four games since joining the Wheat Kings, while Czech LW Marek Kalus has two goals and two assists in four games since coming to Brandon ... Former Wheat Kings LW Alessio Bertaggia has two goals and two assists in two games since joining the Spokane Chiefs, but is currently out of the lineup with an arm injury. Ex-Brandon D Ayrton Nikkel has been held without a point in four games since joining the Everett Silvertips and is also currently out of action with a foot injury.