Wheat Kings Face Warriors In Preseason Ending Home-and-Home
The curtain rises on the final act of the preseason on Friday night at Westoba Place when the Brandon Wheat Kings host the Moose Jaw Warriors, and there’s still plenty of drama to be had.
While both Brandon and Moose Jaw have key pieces away at NHL camps, the remaining players have all the incentive they need to put on a show. Ice time, power play opportunities, roster spots, and goaltending positions are all up for grabs.
The Wheat Kings enter the weekend series with the Warriors unbeaten on the preseason so far, though neither victory over the Regina Pats came easily. They downed the Pats 1-0 in Regina, then secured the weekend sweep in overtime with a 2-1 win at home.
“The first game, I thought, was a little sloppy,” said Wheat Kings head coach and GM Marty Murray. “But that’s to be expected with guys playing relatively their first game in the league. I thought we got better as the game went on. I thought we played pretty well on Saturday at home.”
Murray praised his team’s puck possession and chance generation, though he noted they struggled to score. While that’s perhaps to be expected with so many top players out of the lineup, he wants to see the remaining players take advantage of their heightened ice time.
“Guys are still trying to make the hockey team and other guys are fighting for roles, ice time, and opportunities,” Murray said. “We’re missing, obviously, some key players in our lineup, but at the same time we’re looking for those guys to step up.”
Moose Jaw, meanwhile, has had no trouble scoring so far this preseason with nine goals for in two games. They’ve surrendered 11 goals, however, and hold a 1-1 record. Some of the players who provide offense for them on a regular basis, such as 20-year-old Atlee Calvert and returning leading scorer Jagger Firkus, will soon be off to NHL camps.
Keeping pucks out hasn’t been an issue for the Wheat Kings so far, and that’s in no small part due to goaltenders Nick Jones and Ethan Eskit. As they battle one another for the backup job behind last year’s starter Carson Bjarnason, they stopped a combined 61 of 62 shots they faced.
“Both guys have had really good camps and both played exceptionally well in the games,” said Murray. “That’s what you hope. You want a tough decision, you don’t want one guy getting scored on all the time. Both handle themselves very well in practice and they’ve been supportive of each other. It’s a battle we know we have to address, but both guys have handled themselves very well.”
The Wheat Kings host the Warriors on Friday, September 15 before facing them again in Moose Jaw the following night. Tickets for the last preseason game are just $10 for adults and $5 for kids. You can buy preseason tickets HERE
From 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, the Keystone Centre south parking lot will also be hosting Food Truck Wars! Stop by and help decide which food truck reigns supreme, then step inside to end the evening with some Wheat Kings hockey.
Pick up your tickets for the home opener against the Regina Pats on September 22 HERE