Excitement Rising For Wheat Kings Ahead Of Home Opener vs. Regina
It was a fun preseason for the Brandon Wheat Kings, no doubt about that. You might even call it a rousing success, as they went 4-0 and won a pair of weekend series against divisional rivals. Now, however, those games need to be put firmly in the rearview mirror as the real tests begin.
The Wheat Kings open their 2023-24 season tonight against the Regina Pats. It’s the kickoff to a big opening weekend, which itself kicks off a year full of increased expectations for a squad that missed the postseason last year.
“There are so many things you have to go over in a short period of time, there’s a lot of things for our guys to digest,” said head coach and GM Marty Murray. “I think they’ve done a really good job of absorbing it. Our neutral zone play can get a little better.”
The good news is, the team does have something of a foundation to build on thanks to that preseason. In addition to going 4-0, they outscored their opposition 16-3 over that span and showed well both defensively and between the pipes.
“If you would’ve told me we’d allow three goals in four games in preseason, I think we’d have taken that,” Murray said. “It starts with we had really solid goaltending all four games. Credit to those guys, and we played pretty well in front of them. We got a little loose there in the second period (against Moose Jaw) with our one-on-one play, but if you’re only giving up less than a goal per game, you’re going to win hockey games.”
There will be questions about where the team’s offense will come from with captain and leading scorer Nate Danielson away with the Detroit Red Wings and his regular running mate Brett Hyland, who had 26 goals last season in just 42 games, at camp with the Washington Capitals. The team got a glimpse of what their answer might be in exhibition play, with Dominik Petr scoring four goals in four games and Roger McQueen putting up five points in that span.
Tonight’s opponent can sympathize with the Wheat Kings about replacing lost scoring. The Regina Pats lost over 300 points out of their lineup with the departures of Connor Bedard, Alexander Suzdalev, and Stanislav Svozil. Tanner Howe and his 85 points, however, are still with the team, along with supporting cast members like Borya Valis, who posted 48 points in 55 games last season.
It will be an exciting night of hockey at Westoba Place, and the excitement begins before puck drop thanks to the tailgate party. Thanks to C&C Rentals, the tailgate party will feature pulled pork sandwiches fresh off Traeger grills. $5 gets you access and also buys chips, a drink (pop or beer) and a pulled pork sandwich. The festivities begin at 4:00.
Puck drop on the home opener is just after 7:00. To secure your seat, CLICK HERE