The Brandon Wheat Kings will carry some confidence into the Western Hockey League’s regular season after a 3-1 pre-season record.
Blue-line prodigy Kale Clague had a goal and two assists on Saturday night as the Wheat Kings won 6-3 in Regina to complete a home-and-home series against the Pats.
With their regular-season debut coming up Friday in Moose Jaw, Sask., and their home opener the following night against the Warriors, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager believes his players have set a good starting point for the week of preparation ahead of them.
"It was good for our team to get wins," said McCrimmon, whose team will try to rebound from a 24-40-4-4 record last season that left them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. "That’s always important. I think we were able to balance the interest in evaluating players with working on different aspects of our team game. I think when all the veterans get back in the lineup for all the teams it becomes a much different game. …Our challenge will be to get ready for the next step of the process, which is real games."
The Wheat Kings raced out to a 3-0 lead by the 6:31 mark of the first period. John Quenneville, Richard Nejezchleb and Ryley Lindgren each had a goal and an assist, while Jens Meilleur and Jack Palmer also scored. Jordan Papirny made 45 saves for his first win of the pre-season and combined with Curtis Honey’s 4-3 shootout victory over Regina Friday at Westman Place to give Brandon back-to-back solid starts on the weekend.
"Going with two goaltenders coming out of camp gave each goaltender the opportunity to have two starts, a start at home and a start on the road," McCrimmon said. "And I think Curtis and Jordan should both feel good heading into the week based on their performances (on the weekend)."
Former Wheat King Geordie Maguire scored for the Pats, who went 1-2-0-1 in the pre-season, while Marc McCoy and Jack Rodewald potted the other Regina goals. The Wheat Kings chased Teagan Sacher after the Pats’ starter made just four saves on seven first-period shots. Dawson MacAuley stopped 11 of 13 shots over the final two frames in the Regina net.
ONE-TIMERS: The Wheat Kings went 3-for-6 on the power play to finish the series with six goals with the man advantage … Brandon gave up four power-play goals in the two games thanks to Regina’s 2-for-4 showing on Saturday … Clague, who at 15 won’t be old enough to play full time in the WHL until next season, had two goals and three assists in four pre-season games to tie for the team scoring lead with Latvian LW Rihards Bukarts (one goal, four assists) … The Wheat Kings played nine rookies, while the Pats dressed five … RW Jordan Bochinski has joined the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons and made his pre-season debut with them Saturday. Bochinski and LW Taylor Sanheim of Elkhorn, who will join the Winkler Flyers, were both released on the weekend as the Wheat Kings trimmed their pre-season roster to 28 players (two goaltenders, 10 defencemen, 16 forwards) … Brandon scratched D Ryan Pulock (New York Islanders camp), D Eric Roy (Calgary Flames camp), RW Jayce Hawryluk (shoulder), LW Tyler Coulter, LW Jesse Gabrielle, C Chad Robinson, LW Braylon Shmyr, D Taylor Green and D Nick Walters … Lethbridge got down to the limit of three 20-year-old players by releasing former Brandon D Spencer Galbraith. Ex-Wheat Kings G Corbin Boes is one of the Hurricanes’ remaining overagers.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 16, 2013