Brandon Wheat Kings forward Richard Nejezchleb feels ready to step his game up a notch after taking part in Pittsburgh Penguins rookie camp.
The 19-year-old from the Czech Republic returned to the ice with the Wheat Kings Tuesday after playing with the Penguins in a rookie tournament in London, Ont.
Nejezchleb picked up two assists in three games in London and said he got some feedback from the Pittsburgh coaches that he believes will help him in the Western Hockey League this season.
“I think it was another step closer to NHL,” Nejezchleb said. “It was tough for me; the game was so fast, so hard, physical game. There was no time for some fancy things, just play simple, play from north to south.
“It was way different from WHL and I (had) to adjust, but it took me one game. I think I was OK.”
Nejezchleb, who skated with the Penguins on an amateur tryout, was one of the youngest players on the team’s roster and said he got a helping hand from the older prospects, nine of whom had American Hockey League experience.
“I think it was a good group of guys,” said Nejezchleb, who had 11 goals and 24 points in 35 games with the Wheat Kings last season. “… It was older guys, but they were so nice, like try to teach you new things.”
Wheat Kings defenceman Eric Roy had a goal and an assist in two games at the Young Stars prospects tournament in Penticton, B.C., while former Wheat King Mike Ferland had three assists in three games. Ferland added two goals as the Flames beat the University of Calgary Dinos 6-3 in an exhibition game on Monday. Roy did not dress for that game.
Wheat Kings defenceman Nick Walters had one assist, four penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -1 in four games with the St. Louis Blues at a prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich. Brandonite Joel Edmundson, who is expected to play in the Blues’ minor-league system this season, had three assists, 10 penalty minutes and was +4, while Killarney’s Reid Gow was +3 in three games with the Blues rookies before being returned to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.
STICKING AROUND: While the Wheat Kings sent two of their 15-year-old prospects back to their midget teams following their pre-season split with the Moose Jaw Warriors on the weekend, Kale Clague is going to stay in Brandon a little bit longer.
Clague gives the Wheat Kings some needed depth on the blue-line while Roy, Walters and New York Islanders first-round pick Ryan Pulock remain away at NHL camps.
While he’s not old enough yet to play regularly in the WHL, Clague more than held his own during the Wheat Kings’ pre-season action on the weekend, showing excellent poise in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors, then scoring as the Wheat Kings won Sunday’s rematch 6-4. While he performed well in the games, Clague said he’s still adjusting to WHL practices.
“I felt pretty good out there. I thought I fit in pretty well,” said Clague, who will return home to play midget hockey in Lloydminster, Alta., this season. “You’ve just got to keep getting better, day by day. These practices are a lot tougher than what I’ve been used to.”
AROUND THE WHL: On Friday, the same night as LW Taylor Sanheim of Elkhorn scored in his first WHL pre-season game for Brandon, his twin brother picked up his first assist for Calgary. D Travis Sanheim now has a goal and an assist in four pre-season contests … Prince Albert C Carson Perreaux, a Brandonite, had his first two assists of the pre-season on Friday … Kamloops has acquired G Bolton Pouliot, 19, from Red Deer for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft … Foxwarren’s Pat Falloon, a former Spokane Chiefs standout, will be inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame next month in Spokane, Wash.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 11, 2013