Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon, MB. – The Brandon Wheat Kings plan to have one new face and two familiar faces in the lineup Wednesday night when they take on the visiting Saskatoon Blades in the first of a 3-game Western Hockey League home stand at Westman Communications Group Place.
While western Manitoba hockey fans will get their first look at newly acquired center Kevin Sundher on Wednesday, they will also have have the opportunity to welcome captain Mark Stone and left-winger Alessio Bertaggia back from the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Stone, who led Team Canada in scoring with seven goals and ten points during the tournament, hasn’t played on home ice since the first weekend of December, missing a total of eight games in the process. Without him in the lineup, the Wheat Kings went 3-5-0 to slip from second to fourth place in the WHL’s Eastern Division.
Bertaggia meanwhile last played at home on December 13th when the Wheat Kings edged the Kelowna Rockets. A former first round pick in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, the 18-year old import finished with a goal and four points for the Swiss U20 Team.
A member of Canada’s bronze medal winning team, Stone returns to Brandon sitting in third place in the WHL scoring race. Despite missing a month of regular season play, the Ottawa Senators’ prospect has 27 goals and 68 points and trails only Jordan Weal of Regina (69) and Portland’s Ty Rattie (73). As for Bertaggia, he begins the week with eighteen goals and 36 points in 37 games to lead all Brandon rookies and is fifth among all first year players in the WHL.
A third round draft choice of the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, Sundher is currently seventh in league scoring with 64 points, including 22 goals. He arrives in Brandon as the Victoria Royals / Chilliwack Bruins all time leading scorer with 90 goals and 240 points in 254 career games.
The 19-year old Surrey, B.C. native, who was scheduled to arrive in Brandon on Tuesday night, was obtained by the Wheat Kings on Monday night in exchange for veteran Jordan Fransoo, rookie Dakota Conroy and a first round bantam draft choice.
Brandon begins this week’s home stand with a record of 22-17-1-1, good for 46 points and the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the Wheat Kings trail Saskatoon and Calgary by just a single point and are only six points out of third place in the Conference.
Tickets to Wednesday’s game as well as this weekend’s games against Red Deer (Friday) and Victoria (Saturday) are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at ticketmaster.ca