Brandon Wheat Kings
Calgary, AB. — Brandon Wheat Kings’ Captain Mark Stone goes for Bronze later today as Team Canada faces off against Finland at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Calgary.
After Tuesday’s heartbreaking 6-5 loss to the defending Champion Russians in the Semi-Finals, the 19-year old Winnipeg product is hoping to return home with at least some hardware.
“We want to leave here with a medal,” Stone told Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun on Wednesday. “We talked about it today: In 10 years down the road, when we’re sitting at home, we’re going to want a medal to show for it. This is my only opportunity to play at the world juniors and to leave without a medal would be very disappointing.”
The Finns meanwhile dropped their Semi-Final in overtime to Sweden and will be looking for some redeption as Canada has defeated them twice this year – once in a pre-tournament game and then in the opening game of the Championship on Boxing Day.
Canada’s leading scorer in the tournament with seven goals and two assists in five games, Stone was instrumental in leading the National Junior Team to a 4-0 preliminary round record and an automatic berth into the Semi-Finals.
An Ottawa Senators’ prospect, Stone left the Wheat Kings in early December to attend the National Junior Selection Camp and when he did he was leading the Western Hockey league in scoring. While Ty Rattie of the Portland Winterhawks recently moved past him and into the league lead, he remains among the WHL leaders with 27 goals and 65 points.
No matter what happens today, its not clear when Stone plans to rejoin the Wheat Kings, who travel to Prince Albert Thursday for a 2-game weekend series with the Raiders. Losers of five of their last eight and two of three since Christmas, the 21-16-1-1 Wheat Kings find themselves in fourth place in the Eastern Division and eighth in the Conference heading into Friday night’s series opener.
One player that is expected to be back in the Brandon lineup this weekend is 18-year old Alessio Bertaggia. The rookie left-winger was a valuable member of the Swiss U20 Team that closed out the WJHC with a 2-1 relegation round loss to the U.S. on Wednesday. During the event, Brandon’s first round Import pick in 2011 scored once and a team leading three assists in six games.
Brandon’s next home game is Wednesday night when the Saskatoon Blades pay a visit to Westman Place. That will be the first of a 3-game in four night homestand for the Wheat Kings, who will host Red Deer and Victoria on Friday and Saturday nights.
Tickets to all three games are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at ticketmaster.ca