WHL Eastern Division Leaders

By Glen Crichton


The Brandon Wheat Kings have taken advantage of some struggling teams in the east division and have taken top spot with a 6-4 record, not great, but the best by a ways in the weak east division. The Wheat Kings are the only team over five hundred and the nearest team has a meagre three wins. look for the Moose Jaw Warriors to make some kind of move if they get Brian Sutherby back from Washington and Steve Crampton recovers from knee surgery, but with that said, the Wheat Kings have taken advantage of the other teams problems and reached the top. The Wheat Kings aren’t loaded with a ton of dynamic offensive threats, however they are scoring by committee which is often the best way to go.

Ryan Craig is probably the best offensive threat night in and night out for the Wheaties, however he has just returned from injury, but has already amassed five points in just two games. Richard Meuller, Lance Monych, Tim Konsorada and Jordan Tootoo are the next best so far offensively with Monych and Konsorada only being seventeen. Tootoo and five year veteran Randy Ponte are the sparkplugs on the team, both being a little on the short side vertically, but either one is like a pitbull if you care to get rocking, while rookie Ryan Stone appears to be learning fast and should help in the toughness department as he gains experience and strength. European Jiri Jakes can contribute more than the six point he has so far and the Wheaties will need him to pick it up. Colin McCrae, Caine Pearpoint, Michael Young and the currently injured Travis Eagles round out the Wheaties forward group.

Eagles should help along the walls and add some scoring punch upon his return. The loss of potential point producer Luke Molotowsky hasn’t helped, as he has gone home to ponder his future. If the Wheaties can continue to get production from the forwards as a whole, they should be tough to track down in a division that isn’t as strong as in previous years because one thing the Wheat kings will do is work hard every night which should give them a chance to win every night. .

Defensively the Wheat kings would seem to have an edge in the division with five veteran defensemen who can play a regular shift. Wade Skolney, Kevin Harris, Brett Thurston, Regan Leslie and Brett Dickie are all capable in their own end, while Harris and Leslie lead the charge offensively in transition for the most part. Travis Young and a group of 1984 born players including Josh Garbutt, Andre Blanchette and Leslie McKay round out the defensive corps. With a solid group of defensemen, the Wheat kings should be able to keep the puck out of the net, but will they score enough goals to win the close ones?

Goaltending is an area the Wheat kings will need improvement from as neither goalie is really shining, though Macintosh has only had two starts. MacIntosh is sitting with a 1-1 record however his numbers are less than impressive with a save percentage of .810 and a GAA of 5.71. McVicar is 5-3, however his numbers are a little better with a save percentage of .887 and a GAA of 3.12. A solid, veteran keeper could be key to the Wheat Kings being able to stay close in a lot of games, allowing their work ethic to take over and help them win the close games. McVicar could be the guy, but he’ll have to respond by coming up big every night.

The Wheat Kings should win the east on the basis of having a solid, veteran defensive corps and enough scoring throughout the line up to win the close ones. There are no monster teams in the east this year, with the exception being the Warriors if Sutherby and Crampton return, so if they can make hay early and get some goaltending, the east division could be the Wheat Kings for the taking. A bonus for the Wheat Kings would be either getting a focused Luke Molotowsky back playing or getting a player in return who might be able to fill a void either in net or up front for depth.