Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Run-And-Gun Wheat Kings

The WHL season is underway, and there are a number of teams off to fast starts. The one team who has blown the doors off its opponents thus far are the Brandon Wheat Kings as they recorded their third-straight win to open the season this evening. Junior hockey has always been known for wild scores and crazy games, but fans who have bought tickets to see the Wheat Kings play this season are certainly getting everything they for which they paid. The Wheaties are definitely the WHL's highest-scoring team, but that's also come at a price.

The Wheat Kings opened the campaign on Friday as hosts to the Regina Pats. Taylor Cooper didn't waste much time in scoring the first goal of the season for the Wheat Kings when he put one past Matt Hewitt just 4:34 in. The game would be back and forth, but the Wheat Kings would grab a victory after Jens Meilleur scored on the powerplay 4:03 into the third period. The Wheat Kings would skate to the 3-2 victory in what seems to be their only defensively-responsible game of the season thus far.

The very next night saw Regina and Brandon throw 11 goals on the scoreboard. Led by Tyrel Seaman's two goals and Swiss-born Alessio Bertaggia's four-point night, Brandon skated to a 7-4 victory in Regina.

"I think they did a good job, starting (Friday) night and they continued on today," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said to Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun. "We wanted the older guys to lead and that’s what those guys are going to have to do."

Downing the same team twice on two nights can lead to a little overconfidence, but there was none shown tonight as the Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades met in Brandon. And once again, the goal lights got a workout as 15 goals were scored between the two teams!

Alessio Bertaggia and Jens Meilleur both had a pair of goals and an assist, and Corbin Boes recorded his third win of the season as the Wheat Kings downed the Blades by a 9-6 score. Through three games, the Wheat Kings are the highest-scoring team in the WHL with 19 goals. They're also the worst team defensively, though, having allowed 12 goals in three games. Needless to say, firewagon hockey is alive and well in Brandon.

Clearly, a 4.00 GAA and a .857 save percentage won't get Brandon very far, so there's hope that Corbin Boes can improve his game to help his high-flying offence out. Games early in the season have a way of over-inflating specific stats, so there's no doubt in my mind that these numbers will improve, but Brandon can't just run-and-gun all season. After all, this isn't the 1970s and 1980s anymore.

There is something to be said for the 19 goals against Regina and Saskatoon, though. Saskatoon is a veteran-heavy team as they begin their march towards the Memorial Cup as the host team, so the young Wheat Kings lineup did very well in an early test in the season. While three games in is not where a lot of character is shown, it still says something when the young Wheaties can outscore the Blades 5-2 in the last thirty minutes of the game.

If I get a chance before winter hits, I'm going to saddle up the old four-wheel drive horse and head down the highway to catch a Wheat Kings game. It looks like there will be lots of opportunities to stretch one's legs as the goals are being scored furiously in Westman Place this season.

If they can tighten up their game defensively, the Wheat Kings might be a surprise team this season in the WHL. Who would have thought they'd be filling the net this frequently early in the season?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Peter Santellan said...

With the way the Edmonton Oil Kings are playing, dating back to last season, it would be wise for Brandon to get their defense in order, or at least, provide some semblance of defense.