Wheat Kings eager to control series

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

If the Brandon Wheat Kings can win tonight, they will have three cracks at finishing off the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Should they lose, however, and it's back to square one.

The Wheat Kings and Warriors will meet at Winnipeg's MTS Centre tonight at 7 o'clock for the crucial Game 4 of their WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final series.

Brandon, despite finishing 26 points behind the Warriors in the East Division, leads the best-of-seven affair 2-1 and can seize Moose Jaw by the throat with a victory.

"It's huge," Wheaties defenceman Stephane Lenoski said yesterday from the team bus as it rumbled toward Winnipeg. "We would love to take control of the series with a win."

The Wheat Kings edged the Warriors 3-2 on Monday night to improve their all-time record at the MTS Centre to 9-1. The Wheaties are forced out of Keystone Centre every year at this time because of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, but Lenoski said that doesn't matter one bit.

"We feel comfortable playing there. It's basically like another home game," said Lenoski, who hails from Winnipeg's Island Lakes neighbourhood. "A lot of us are from Manitoba on the team, and we have a couple guys from Winnipeg, so we get to play in front of family and friends. So that helps. It's a comfort zone."

Lenoski will have family members supporting him in the crowd again tonight, but he's not so sure about his buddies.

"At first there were quite a few, but now since we've played here 10 times over the last two years ... for my friends especially, I don't know if they can afford coming to every game," the former Winnipeg AAA midget Shark said with a laugh.

Brandon head coach Kelly McCrimmon knows Winnipegger Dustin Boyd and the Warriors will be a nasty bunch tonight.

"We know we'll be playing a very hungry, determined team in Moose Jaw," McCrimmon said, "so we have to match their level of desperation."

YEO, HE'S BACK: The WHL has reinstated Wheat Kings D Theran Yeo after suspending him for Monday's game.

Yeo was given the one-game ban for punching a fan after last Saturday's Game 2 at Moose Jaw Civic Centre. The fan punched Yeo first as the Wheat Kings were leaving the ice.

The Warriors were fined $2,500 for inadequate security.

LOCAL CONTENT: There are 16 Manitobans competing in the Brandon-Moose Jaw series and another 34 in the other WHL quarter-final series.

The Wheat Kings lead the way with 14 Manitobans on their active roster, while the Saskatoon Blades are next with seven players from the Keystone province.


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