Wheat Kings can't afford to sit back

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

BRANDON — Whenever the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Calgary Hitmen get together, there’s always something at stake.

Although a win in the final game of the round robin of the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup wouldn’t make up for losing out to the Calgary Hitmen in each of the past two Western Hockey League playoffs, it would probably give the Wheat Kings an emotional lift.

Besides, the Wheat Kings are looking to build on Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the Moncton Wildcats that evened their record at 1-1.

“If we’re going to have success as the week goes on, we’ll have to keep getting better,” said Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon. “It’s a team we’re familiar with, and our guys are anxious to play that game. Regardless of (Tuesday’s) outcome, it’s a big game for us against Calgary.

“We’re not a team that played great on Friday, great on Sunday and can afford to take a day off.”

IF THE SPITFIRES WIN TUESDAY

With a win by the Windsor Spitfires Tuesday night, Wednesday’s game between the Wheat Kings and the Hitmen (7 p.m. CT, Sportsnet) will simply be to determine which team gets home-ice in Friday’s semifinal.

IF THE WILDCATS WIN TUESDAY

A victory by the Moncton Wildcats over the Windsor Spitfires Tuesday night increases the importance of Wednesday’s game between the Wheat Kings and the Hitmen (7 p.m. CT, Sportsnet) as the winner moves directly to Friday’s semifinal and the loser must face the Wildcats in a tie-breaker on Thursday.

The Wheat Kings enjoyed success against the Hitmen during the regular season, but after winning the first game of the WHL Eastern Conference final, the Calgary club won the next four games to capture the series.

“We had a bad series against them there, but it’s a fresh start,” said Wheat Kings forward Jay Fehr. “We’ve been getting better as we go here, and, hopefully, we can keep getting better.”

“We’ve lost four in a row to these guys now, and we’re itching to play them,” added Wheat Kings forward Mark Stone. “We were hoping they would get through Tri-City so we could get another crack at them.”

Losing in five games to a heated rival was tough on the Wheat Kings.

“We’ve played Calgary a lot this season, and, unfortunately, they were the one’s who knocked us out of the playoffs,” said Wheat Kings forward Aaron Lewadniuk. “Anytime you lose out of the playoffs, you’re going to be a little hurt and emotionally wrecked. We’re fortunate to have another kick at the can here and have another go at these guys.

“It’s an easy one to get up for. The guys are real excited. We know we’re a lot better than what they’ve seen us play, and if we just play real simple and keep our feet moving, things might turn the other way this time.”

The Hitmen are also 1-1 in the tournament and will look to bounce back from a 6-2 loss to the Spitfires.

“We have a good hate-on for Brandon, and they have a good hate-on for us, so it will be a good, competitive game between two teams that don’t like each other,” said Hitmen defenceman Mike Stone.

“It’s always fun playing against Brandon. It’s intense, and it’s pretty physical. I would bet it’s going to be a good WHL battle.”


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