Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon, MB. — Two of the Western Hockey League’s best teams take to the ice at Westman Place Friday night – for the second time in less than two weeks.
The Brandon Wheat Kings will be hoping to run their winning streak to four games and at the same time beat the Tigers for the first time this season. After losing in Medicine Hat 5-2 during their 7-game, thirteen day road trip last month, the Wheat Kings fell to the Tigers 4-3 two weekends ago when Anaheim Ducks’ first round draft choice Emerson Etem scored in overtime.
Entering the game, the two teams are tied with Red Deer for second place in the Conference with 30 points each. Both Brandon and Medicine Hat are 14-6-1-1 on the year. While the Tigers share the Central Division lead with the Rebels, Brandon trails the front running Saskatoon Blades by a single point.
In addition to featuring two of the best teams in the Conference, tonight’s game will spotlight a battle between two of the league’s premier players. Brandon captain Mark Stone, fresh off being named Team WHL Player of the Game in Thursday’s SUBWAY Super Series loss to the Russians in Moose Jaw, has regained the league scoring lead with nineteen goals and 46 points. That gives the Ottawa Senators’ prospect a two point lead on the Tigers’ Etem, who enters the weekend with 44 points, including a league leading 25 goals.
Stone and Etem may be two of the league’s best but both teams feature strong supporting casts led by Brandon’s Michael Ferland and Hunter Shinkaruk of Medicine Hat. A 19-year old local product, Ferland is currently fourth in league scoring with fifteen goals and 36 points, while Shinkaruk – who may be the hottest player in the league right now – is tenth with 21 goals and 29 points.
Other players to watch out for Friday night will be 17-year old Brandon defenceman Ryan Pulock and former Saskatoon Blades’ left-winger Darian Dziurzynski. Dziurzynski wasn’t in the Brandon lineup the last time that these two clubs as he was serving a 2-game suspension. In fifteen games this season, the 20-year old Lloydminster product has eleven goals and 37 minutes in penalties.
Pulock meanwhile enters the weekend, which will see the Wheat Kings travel to Swift Current on Saturday before facing the Warriors in Moose Jaw on Sunday, leading all WHL defencemen in scoring with 28 points including eight goals.
Tickets to Friday night’s game, which will feature the official kick-off to Brandon’s Operation Red Nose Campaign, are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at ticketmaster.ca