February 13, 2014, Brandon, MB. (ISN) – Several Brandon Wheat Kings prospects will be front and center this weekend as the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League playoffs get underway.
Led by the likes of Duncan Campbell, Tanner Kaspick and Ty Lewis the AAA Wheat Kings will take on the Yellowhead Chiefs in one of the four opening round series.
Elsewhere Kirklan Lycar and the Eastman Selects will meet Braden Billaney and the Southwest Cougars, Nolan Patrick and the Winnipeg Thrashers face off against Kenora while Ben Dalke and the Pembina valley Hawks take on the Winnipeg Wild, led by captain Mark Taraschuk.
Eastman hosts the Cougars on Thursday to kick things off with the remaining series scheduled to get underway on Friday night.
Brandon enters post season play as the league’s regular season Champions, having compiled an impressive 39-3-0-2 record in 2013-14. Listed by the Wheat Kings in 2013, Campbell led the league in scoring during the regular season with 39 goals and 85 points.
Kaspick and Lewis meanwhile finished 3rd and 8th respectively in league scoring with 63 and 57 points respectively. A second round draft choice of the Wheat Kings (25th overall) in the 2013 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, Kaspick tied Lewis, who was chosen by the Wheat Kings in round three (47th overall) in goals with 28 each.
Like the Wheat Kings, the Wild enter their series against Pembina Valley as a heavy favorite. A sixth round draft choice (112th overall) of Brandon in the 2012 Bantam Draft, Taraschuk was a key to Winnipeg’s stingy defensive record this season. In 44 games, the Wild gave up a league low 64 goals or 1.45 goals per game. Winnipeg finished the regular season in second place at 37-5-0-2 and Taraschuk scored nine goals and 38 points to finish among the league leaders for blueliners.
A tenth round selection of the Wheat Kings in last spring’s draft, Pembina Valley’s Dalke finished his rookie season with 20 goals and 29 points. The Hawks finished sixth during the regular season with a record of 19-20-0-5.
Chosen fourth overall in the 2013 bantam draft, Patrick led the Thrashers to a 34-7-0-3 record and a third place finish. In addition to tieing Kaspick for third in MMHL scoring with 63 points, he wound up second in goals with 33. Only Campbell scored more.
Eastman and Southwest finished fourth and fifth overall with records of 24-13-0-7 and 22-19-0-3 respectively.
While Lycar, who was chosen by the Wheat Kings in the fourth round (78th overall) of the 2012 bantam draft, finished 19th in league scoring with eighteen goals and 45 points, Billaney scored four goals and 8 points in 36 games as a 15-year old rookie with Southwest. The Boissevain product was taken by Brandon in the eleventh round of the 2013 draft.
As the AAA Midget League playoffs begin this weekend, the WHL playoff stretch drive heats up as the Wheat Kings host the visiting Kootenay Ice for a 2-game series at Westman Place.
Brandon is currently tied with Regina for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 28-22-6-1 and coming off Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. The Wheat Kings remain one point back of the Eastern Division leading Swift Current Broncos and five ahead of the Red Deer Rebels, who occupy the eighth and final playoff berth.
The Ice meanwhile are 31-22-2-2 and sit fifth in the Conference – three up on Brandon and five back of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Following the two games vs Kootenay, the Wheat Kings will head to Regina for a holiday game on Monday, before returning home to host the Victoria Royals on Wednesday.
Tickets to all remaining Wheat Kings home games are on sale now at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling (204) 726-3555 or online at wheatkings.com.