Brandon Wheat Kings

Saskatoon, SK. — An Eastern Division clash between two teams separated by a single point collide in Saskatoon tonight as the Wheat Kings kick off a 2-game Saskatchewan road trip against the hometown Blades.

The Wheat Kings, who will play in Prince Albert on Wednesday, enter the week sitting in a tie for top spot in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Division. Brandon is 11-5-1-1, good for 24 points and a share of first place with the Regina Pats.

Saskatoon meanwhile is one point back at 11-6-0-1 and tied with Moose Jaw with 23 points.

“We know there’s still areas to work on. We’re talked about the penalty-kill, sometimes our consistency on home-ice,” Wheat Kings’ coach Cory Clouston told CKLQ’s Bruce Luebke on Monday. “That’s not a bad thing. You don’t need to peak at this time of the year so we’re consistently trying to improve our game, look at the areas where we can tweak it and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Tuesday’s game will mark the return of veteran left-winger Darian Dziurzynski to the Brandon lineup. The former Blade, who will be making his first appearance in Saskatoon since last month’s trade that sent him to the Wheat Kings, is eligible to return to the lineup after serving a 2-game suspension.

In eleven games this season, the 20-year old Lloydmisnter product has nine goals and 23 minutes in penalties. Six of those goals have come in seven games as a Wheat King.

Winners of seven of ten games on the road this season, Clouston hopes that trend continues this week as Brandon kicks off a stretch of games that will see them play four in five nights.

“We’ve played well defensively, got good goaltending and you need that to win on the road, and we’re been able to play just a solid road game,” Clouston told CKLQ. “Sometimes on the road, you keep it more simple, you don’t try to complicate things and when you do that, usually that’s a recipe to win.”

Brandon captain Mark Stone goes into Tuesday night’s game sitting in second place in the WHL scoring race with fourteen goals and 37 points. The 19-year old Winnipegger is two points behind Anaheim Ducks’ first round draft choice Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers and goes into Tuesday’s game riding an 8-game goal scoring and an 18-game point scoring streak. Left-winger Michael Ferland meanwhile is fourth in the scoring race with 31 points, including a team leading fifteen goals.

Saskatoon meanwhile has been led offensively by Josh Nicholls and Russian netminder Andrey Makarov. Nicholls leads the Blades with twelve goals and 21 points while Makarov has been simply sensational this season and is currently among the league leaders in games played (12), wins (9), goals against average (2.50) and save percentage (.926).

Tuesday’s game is the second of the season between these two teams, after Brandon skated to a 6-0 win over the Blades in early October.

Following tonight’s game (6:35 pm with pre-game show on 880 CKLQ) and tomorrow’s in Prince Albert, the Wheat Kings will return home for back to back weekend home games against Swift Current on Remembrance Day and the Raiders on Saturday night.

Tickets for both games are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at ticketmaster.ca