March 16, 2014, Brandon (ISN) – The Brandon Wheat Kings brought the curtain down on their 2013-14 Western Hockey League regular season in style Saturday night. Not only did they clinch seventh place and a first round playoff date with the Regina Pats, two members of the organization reached significant milestones.
15-year old center Nolan Patrick – the Wheat Kings first round selection and fourth overall pick in last spring’s Bantam Draft, snapped a 2-2 second period tie with his first ever WHL goal as the Wheat Kings went on to an impressive 6-3 victory over Regina at Westman Communications Group Place.
A member of the Winnipeg AAA Midget Thrashers this past season, Patrick joined the Wheat Kings last Monday after his team was eliminated by the Winnipeg Wild in one of two Manitoba AAA Midget League semi-finals. A former Winnipeg AAA Bantam Hockey League scoring champion, the 6’3″ 183 lb Patrick finished third in Manitoba Midget League scoring in 2013-14.
Meanwhile Brandon general manager and head coach Kelly McCrimmon chalked up career win number 364 behind the bench, becoming the Wheat Kings all time winningest coach. The previous record of 363 had been held by Bobby Lowes.
During his three stints behind the Brandon bench since joining the organization in 1988, McCrimmon has compiled an overall record of 364-289-51, which translates to a winning percentage of .553.
Instrumental in helping the City of Brandon land the prestigious MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2010, McCrimmon currently sits as Chairman of the WHL Competitions Committee, having previously served on the league’s Board of Governors Executive Committee.
McCrimmon has led the Wheat Kings to eight Eastern Division pennants, eight Eastern Conference Finals, four Eastern Conference Championships, three appearances in the Memorial Cup and one WHL Championship.
By qualifying for post season play on Saturday, the Wheat Kings have now advanced to the WHL playoffs in twenty-one of their last 23 years.
Saturday night was the final regular season game for at least three members of the Wheat Kings – 20-year olds Rene Hunter, Chad Robinson and Jens Meilleur. During their 4-year Western League careers Hunter scored ten goals and 68 points in 247 games, Meilleur had 32 goals and 72 points in 227 games while Robinson, who broke into the league as a Red Deer Rebel, had 99 points, including 29 goals in 260 career games.
Brandon will meet Regina in a best of seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal, scheduled to begin next weekend at the Brandt Centre. Game one and two will be played Saturday and Sunday, before the series shifts to Brandon for games three and four. Due to the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, the remaining dates of the first round series have yet to be determined.
While the Wheat Kings and Pats begin preparations for their first round playoff series, two other Eastern Conference quarterfinal series match-ups are set with Calgary taking on Kootenay and the Medicine Hat Tigers to face off against Swift Current. The defending Conference Champion Edmonton Oil Kings meanwhile will open up against Red Deer or Prince Albert. Entering the final night of play in the regular season, the Raiders have a two point lead with the Rebels set to play in Edmonton to close out the year. A Rebels win will force a Tuesday night tiebreaker game with Prince Albert.