Brandon Wheat Kings Weekly: Dec. 22

Brandon Wheat Kings this week –

The Brandon Wheat Kings are currently enjoying their nine-day Christmas break and looking forward to what should be an exciting second half to the 2014-15 Western Hockey League season.

After finishing seventh in the WHL’s Eastern Conference last season with a record of 34-29-6-3, the Wheat Kings capped off this season’s first half by collecting a point in their last five games (3-0-1-1) to finish 24-7-3-1 at the break.

By collecting 52 points through the first 35 games of the regular season, the Wheat Kings have built up a ten point lead on the second place Regina Pats in the division and have a slim two point advantage on the second place Medicine Hat Tigers in the Conference.

In addition to owning the best home ice record (12-2-3), the Wheat Kings have compiled an impressive 12-5-0-1 record away from home, which is second only to the league leading Kelowna Rockets.

Offence continues to be the primary reason for the club’s first half success.  Brandon currently leads the league with 160 goals in 35 games (4.57 goals/game).  However, when it comes to preventing goals, the club has surrendered 116 (3.31 goals/game), which ranks them seventh best in the conference.

Needless to say, the club’s play at its end of the rink – which will be critical come playoff time – certainly has room to improve.

Individually, former Saskatoon Blade Tim McGauley continues to lead the club in scoring and has climbed to 7th place in the league with 22 goals and 44 points. His 22 goals are second best in the conference and 4th in the league.  Of those goals, six are game winners (2nd in the WHL) and three are shorthanded tallies (3rd in the league).

The Wilcox, Saskatchewan product will begin the second half of the regular season riding a 5-game goal scoring and a career high 12-game point scoring streak.  During that stretch, the 19-year old center has fourteen goals and 23 points.

McGauley is one of six Wheat Kings currently averaging a point per game with the WHL club this season.  He’s also one of eight Brandon players with double digits in goals, joining Nolan Patrick (14), Jayce Hawryluk (13), Jesse Gabrielle (13), John Quenneville(12), Rihard Bukarts (12), Reid Duke (10) and Ivan Provorov (10).

A 17-year old Russian blueliner, who was Brandons first pick in last summer’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, currently leads all WHL rookies in scoring with 35 points in 35 games.  He’s also second among defencemen, trailing Victoria’s Joe Hicketts by a single point entering the second half of play.

Provorov is one of two Brandon rookies making an immediate impact on the WHL. The other is 16-year old Nolan Patrick of Winnipeg, who was the fourth overall selection in the 2013 Bantam Draft. The former Winnipeg AAA Midget Thrasher has fourteen goals and 26 points in his first thirty games and that ranks him third in scoring among first year players.

In goal, Jordan Papirny remains among the league leaders in appearances (30), minutes played (1816), shutouts (2), goals against average (2.94) and save percentage (.909).  His twenty victories are second best in the league, two behind Jackson Whistle of the Rockets.

Brandon players will return to the ice for a Boxing Day practice next Friday, before opening up a home and home series with the Warriors in Moose Jaw on Saturday night.  The two teams will then return to Westman Place for a 4pm Sunday, December 28th clash.

Tickets to see the Wheat Kings, who will then host Prince Albert on Tuesday, December 30th, are on sale now at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling (204) 726-3555 or online at keystonecentre.com

BRANDON BITS:

McGauley headlines the list of six Wheat Kings currently averaging a point per game with Brandon.  The others are Hawryluk (13-24-37 in 30 games), Provorov, Duke (10-21-31 in 31 games), Bukarts (11-19-30 in 27 games) and Quenneville (12-15-27 in 27 games) … Former Lethbridge blueliner Ryan Pilon is currently 11th in scoring among WHL blueliners with six goals and 27 points in 31 games … Brandon’s powerplay (27.3%) continues to lead the WHL … Penalty killing, the Wheat Kings rank 18th at 75.6% … Brandon is 10-3-2-1 vs Eastern Division rivals … Hawryluk leads the team with a plus/minus ranking of +16, followed by Provorov (+14), Macoy Erkamps (+14) and Quintin Lisoway (+14) … Second year forward Jesse Gabrielle leads the club with 69 minutes in penalties … Overage defenceman Eric Roy has moved to within 15 games of the 300 game plateau in his 5-year WHL career. Erkamps is 18 shy of 250 … Over 500 tickets have been sold for the 2015 Wheat Kings CKLQ Sportsman’s Dinner, starring Ron MacLean, scheduled for the Keystone Centre’s UCT Pavillion on Thursday, January 29th.  For ticket information contact the hockey club at (204) 726-3535.

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