By Carter Brooks
Photo by Brandi Pollock
The Brandon Wheat Kings have their work cut out for them.
Following a two-game shellacking of the visiting Kootenay Ice, and a stretch featuring three wins in four appearances, the Wheaties are now facing one of the most important months of the season. With five of their next six games coming on the road, it could be a make-it-or-break-it kind of week for Brandon.
Four games remain before the end of January, including a back-to-back with the Regina Pats on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Wheaties will look to continue their strong play over the seven Manitobans on the Pats, including starting goaltender and Brandonite Max Paddock.
Despite playing four more games than the Wheat Kings, the Pats are 18 points behind Brandon, and playoffs are not on the horizon this season. The Wheat Kings, however, are also a long-shot for postseason hockey, sitting 12 points back of Medicine Hat for the first Wild Card slot, but only two back of second place Calgary with a game in hand. A strong Central Division has basically cemented Brandon into the Wild Card picture, hold for a 12-game winning streak in this second half.
With 25 games left to play in the regular season, the Wheat Kings will need to continue finding success on the road, as the boys in gold and black will be the visitors another 15 times before March 16th. Brandon does have a four-game homestand mid-February.
The Wheat Kings will take on Max Paddock and the Pats at 7:00 P.M. central time from the Brandt Centre in Regina Friday night, before heading back to Westoba Place for a 7:30 P.M. rematch on Saturday evening. Stelio Mattheos and Luka Burzan continue to lead the offensive charge, while Jiri Patera will look to hold down the fort from inside the crease.