Burki leads 'Toban explosion

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

A quintet of Manitobans is tearing up the Western Hockey League.

Of the top 13 scorers in the WHL, a pair of Brandon Wheat Kings, a pair of Calgary Hitmen and a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers are battling for the scoring title.

Four of those players were slated to represent the WHL in the Canada-Russia Challenge, which continued last night in Chilliwack, B.C., and wraps up tonight in Kamloops.

Winnipegger Codey Burki leads the Wheaties with 19 goals and 42 points in 28 games and is currently one point behind Martin Hanzal of the Red Deer Rebels for top spot.

Brandon product Ryan White has been hot of late for the Hitmen (12 goals and 36 points in 29 games) and moved up to fifth in scoring, while linemate Brodie Dupont of St. Lazare is tied for eighth with 17 goals and 34 points in 29 games.

Darren Helm of St. Andrews sits 13th with nine goals and 32 points in 30 games with the Tigers.

The quartet will be joined by Wheat Kings forward Andrew Clark, a Brandon product who has 25 points this season, in the two-game series with Russia.

Wheat Kings defenceman Dustin Kohn (two goals, 26 points in 24 games) will also suit up against Russia, which lost the first four games of the six-game set to the OHL and QMJHL.

There's more than pride on the line as these games represent one of the final opportunities for players to impress and possibly be invited to Canada's world junior hockey evaluation camp.

Burki should be a lock to be invited when the list is revealed on Monday and at least two of Dupont, White, Helm and Clark should be among the forwards competing for a job with the Canadian squad that will attempt to win a third consecutive title in Sweden in late December and early January.

Jonathan Toews, who has four goals and 12 points in 11 games during his sophomore season with the UND Fighting Sioux, will surely be invited to the evaluation camp as well.

Mark Derlago, a homegrown player with the Wheat Kings, leads the WHL in goals and is sixth in league scoring with 20 goals and 35 points but isn't eligible for the Canada-Russia series or the world junior team because he's an overage (20-year-old) player.


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