At 15, Kyle Clague was the youngest player in the WHL on opening weekend. (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN)
After giving Brandon Wheat Kings fans a glimpse of the future, Kale Clague has been returned home to suit up for the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League’s Lloydminster Bobcats.
The only 15-year-old to play in the Western Hockey League on opening weekend, Clague suited up in two games for the Wheat Kings as an affiliate player (15-year-olds are not allowed to play full-time in the WHL). While he was held without a point, Clague created a couple of great scoring chances offensively and was solid on the defensive end in what turned out to be an extended stint in his Wheat King debut.
"We were really happy with how well Kale played," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "Our intentions were to keep him for the first week of the pre-season and just with the defencemen that we had away at pro camp, we kept him for the second week of the pre-season as well.
"And then with the injuries that we had to people on our blue-line, we just really felt that we weren’t going to have a time this year where it made more sense to use two of his five games (as an affiliate player). So as a result we decided to put him into opening weekend based on the fact that he had been here, he’d been playing and he had already played Moose Jaw twice. So it was a situation where we thought he would be comfortable and he acquitted himself tremendously well."
The 5-foot-11, 181-pound defenceman was selected sixth overall in this year’s WHL bantam draft and scored two goals and notched five points in four pre-season games with the Wheat Kings before helping Brandon go 2-0 on opening weekend. Clague’s departure leaves the Wheat Kings a little short-staffed on the blue-line with injuries to Taylor Green (upper-body, day-to-day), Rene Hunter (suspected concussion, week-to-week) and Nick Walters (knuckle surgery, indefinite), while captain Ryan Pulock remains with the New York Islanders as the NHL pre-season continues.
Green and Walters skated in practice Monday in non-contact jerseys, with McCrimmon confirming Green is a possibility for this week. Green’s return to the lineup would give the Wheat Kings six defencemen for this weekend’s road doubleheader against the Prince Albert Raiders (2-0).
"We’re piecing things together, we still don’t know for sure," McCrimmon said.
Brandon also sent 6-foot-3, 187-pound centre Duncan Campbell, 17, back to the Midget AAA Wheat Kings, leaving the WHL club with 26 players (15 forwards, nine defencemen and two goaltenders). Campbell had 41 goals and 73 points in 80 Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League games the last two years.
In other news, Wheat Kings prospect Taylor Sanheim, who went to training camp and played a trio of pre-season games with Brandon before being re-assigned to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, was acquired by the Dauphin Kings in a multi-player trade on Monday.
The 17-year-old forward from Elkhorn, who had one goal in three WHL pre-season games, was picked up from the Winkler Flyers along with a fifth-round bantam draft pick for 18-year-old goaltender Adam Vander Linden and the MJHL playing rights to 16-year-old forward Jordan McCausland. Sanheim racked up 56 goals, 110 points and 205 penalty minutes in 88 games over the past two seasons with the Yellowhead Midget AAA Chiefs.
ICINGS: Wheat Kings C Jayce Hawryluk is one of 35 WHL players on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list of players to watch in North America for the 2014 NHL draft. The 17-year-old Roblin native has one assist and a +1 plus/minus rating in two games so far this season ... After opening weekend, Brandon LW Taylor Cooper leads the league in goals with four, while D Kord Pankewicz tops all WHLers in plus/minus rating at +7. Meanwhile, Wheat Kings G Curtis Honey is second in the league in save percentage at .950 and tied for second in goals-against average at 2.00 ... After going 0-2 to start the season, the Regina Pats released centre Trent Ouellette and defenceman Luke Fenske on Monday, leaving left-winger Dyson Stevenson as the lone 20-year-old on their roster.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 24, 2013