Wheat Kings prospect Brett Kitt drives to the net for Brandon in
Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League action this season. (FILE PHOTO)
Brett Kitt doesn’t want to wait until training camp in August to make his pitch for a spot on the Brandon Wheat Kings next season.
The 16-year-old Brandonite plans to put his best foot forward this weekend as the Western Hockey League club hosts its annual prospects camp at Westman Place.
"I can make the team this year and so I’m going into spring camp just knowing that I need to play well and I need to show that I’m ready," said Kitt, a forward who had 18 goals and 35 points in 39 games for the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings last season. "…I want to go in there showing them that I’m there and I mean business."
The camp begins Friday, with 34 players expected to take part. While players like Kitt have eyes on making the jump to the WHL this season, the 14 members of this year’s bantam draft class aren’t eligible to play in the league until 2013-14, and the camp is a chance for both the players and the team to make a positive impression for the future.
"For our 1997-born players, who we just drafted (earlier in) May, they get a chance to meet the people in the organization and really it’s like orientation weekend for the first-year players and their families," Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "For the second- and third-year players, it’s a real good opportunity to monitor their development over the course of the last season and to gauge where you think certain players might be in relation to being ready to play on your team this fall."
Having been through the prospects camp last year, Kitt said this is also a good time for potential teammates to get to know one another and start bonding.
"Last year the first game was a little tense," he said. "Just showing up at the rink I didn’t really know anyone because not a lot of kids off my team were there. … But then after maybe a couple periods of playing together, you start to loosen up a little bit."
The Wheat Kings will offer plenty of opportunity at forward next season, and they have six prospects who finished in the top 25 of their midget leagues in scoring last season.
Taylor Cooper, 17, finished sixth in the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring in 2011-12 (34 games played, 21 goals, 25 assists, 46 points), while Kord Pankewicz, 16, was 20th (33gp, 15g, 22a, 37pts) and John Quenneville, 16, was 24th (30gp, 15g, 18a, 33pts). Jayce Hawryluk, 16, was fourth in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League (40gp, 31g, 36a, 67pts), while Brandonite Tyler Coulter, 16, was 22nd (44gp, 26g, 21a, 47pts). Tim McGauley, 17, was 10th in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (41gp, 29g, 24a, 53pts).
Meanwhile, Jack Palmer, 17, was sixth in scoring in the Junior B Vancouver Island league (37gp, 24g, 29a, 53pts).
AROUND THE WHL: Sitting out the camp will be D Colton Waltz, 17, who has just resumed skating following surgery to remove a bone spur in his foot after finishing last season with the Wheat Kings … Former Kelowna G Kelly Guard has been named Prince Albert’s goaltending coach … Tri-City has signed D Parker Wotherspoon, the 21st overall pick from this year’s bantam draft, while Vancouver has signed the 15th overall pick, RW Ty Ronning, as well as RW Jesse Roach, who was chosen 42nd overall … The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks have signed a pair of 20-year-old WHL goalies, inking Everett’s Kent Simpson and Portland’s Mac Carruth.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 30, 2012