Wheaties find winning touch

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

When the Brandon Wheat Kings gave up a bunch of goals last season, they would usually just score one more than their opponent.

They could do that with snipers like Eric Fehr, Ryan Stone, Tim Konsorada and Lance Monych in the lineup.

When they've given up a bunch of goals this season, well, it hasn't exactly been pretty now that their fabulous foursome has graduated from the WHL.

There was an 8-1 loss to Medicine Hat on Oct. 1, a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Saskatoon on Oct. 5, and a 9-4 dismantling against Red Deer on Oct. 11.

"It was pretty bad," Brandon forward and Winnipeg native Codey Burki said yesterday from the Wheat City. "We were getting 40, 45 shots against every game, and it was awful."

The Wheaties struggled out of the gate with a 4-12-1-1 mark, but they are now seeing a light at the end of their dark tunnel. They are 5-5-3-0 since Nov. 1, and they have won four of their last five, including a 3-2 road win over the East Division-leading Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday night.

Good feeling

"It feels really good," said Burki, who tied a career high Wednesday with his ninth goal of the season. "Guys are upbeat, and it's really fun."

Brandon (9-17-4-1) will host Medicine Hat tonight at the Keystone Centre before taking on the arch-rival Regina Pats (16-13-0-1) tomorrow night at Winnipeg's MTS Centre.

Game time is 7:30, and it is the first of four contests the Wheaties will play in Winnipeg this season.

Maybe they should schedule more contests in the Manitoba capital, because they were 5-0 at the MTS Centre last season, which included a playoff win over the Warriors.

"I know last year I was jacked for every game, and this year, too, it's going to be a great time," said Burki, who played his midget hockey for the Winnipeg Warriors.

The Wheat Kings are 3-1 against the Pats this season, and Burki said they've finally figured out the key to victory.

"We were spending a lot of time in our end, and we weren't getting a lot of offensive chances because of that," he said. "We were taking a lot of penalties because we were in our end running around. It's definitely gotten better."

In other words, the Wheat Kings will be concentrating more on their own end while the rest of the hockey world is thinking offence.

"That's what we kind of relied on last year, winning games 5-4 or 6-5, just getting that extra goal or two," Burki said. "This year we need to think more about defence."


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