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12/27/2006: Saskatoon Blades @ Brandon 19:00, Keystone Centre

GAME NOTES: The WHEAT KINGS bring the curtain up on the second half of their 2006-07 Western Hockey League season Wednesday night when they play host to the visiting SASKATOON BLADES at the Keystone Centre...Following the game, BRANDON hits the road for three games beginning Friday night in RED DEER and winding up New Years Day in REGINA...WHEATS will also play the HITMEN in CALGARY on Saturday...BLADES will return to the Keystone Centre on Friday, January 5th...BRANDON enters the post-Christmas schedule with a record of 18-13-2-4, good for 42 points and a four point lead on the second place SWIFT CURR ENT BRONOCS in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Division...PRINCE ALBERT is six points back, with two games in hand...WHEATS are four points back of fourth place RED DEER in the Eastern Conference...BRANDON is 12-3-1-2 at the Keystone Centre and 6-10-1-2 on the road...Despite winning just one of their last eight games (1-3-2-2), the WHEAT KINGS enter Wednesday's game having picked up three of a possible four points during a weekend home and home series with REGINA to close out their pre-Christmas schedule...BRANDON has points in five of its last six games (1-1-2-2)...BRANDON is 3-3-2-2 in its last ten games and during the month of December, the WHEAT KINGS are 2-3-2-2...In games against Eastern Division rivals, the WHEATS are 9-5-2-3 and in games decided in Overtime this season, they're just 1-2-4...Last Friday's 3-1 victory over REGINA snapped a 6-game winless streak (0-3-2-1) and came on the heels of a season high 6-game win streak.

WHEATIES REPRESENTED AT WJHC: Two members of the WHEAT KINGS - center CODEY BURKI and defenceman DUSTIN KOHN were among the final cuts from the National Junior Selection Camp in Calgary two weeks ago...19-year old VANCOUVER CANUCKS' draft choice JURAJ SIMEK, however, is at the world junior championship for the second straight season, as a member of TEAM SWITZERLAND...He becomes the first WHEAT KING to play at the WJHC since JORDIN TOOTOO in 2003.

LAST GAME: BRANDON closed out its pre-Christmas schedule with a 5-4 Shootout loss in REGINA on December 16th...MARK DERLAGO scored two powerplay goals in a losing cause while singles came off the sticks of RYAN REAVES and TYLER DITTMER...TYLER PLANTE and rookie JOE CALIGIURI combined to make 36 saves...All four REGINA goals came with the man advantage...WHEATS have lost four of 5 Overtime Shootouts this season and after leading the WHL in 2005-06 with six last season, MARK DERLAGO is still looking for his first Shootout goal this year.

VS. SASKATOON: This is the fourth meeting of the season between these two teams and the second at the Keystone...BRANDON is 3-0-0 vs. SASKATOON in 2006-07, having outscored the BLADES 9-4...In 2005-06, the WHEATS were 2-6-1-1 against the BLADES...During this year's season series, MARK DERLAGO leads BRANDON with three goals and 5 points while JOE CALIGIURI is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and a .921 save pct..

MILESTONES: Netminder TYLER PLANTE surpassed the 8,000 minute mark in his 3-year WHL career on Friday, December 15th against REGINA. The second round draft choice of the FLORIDA PANTHERS is currently 4th on the club's all time list in both minutes played and games played (139), eight games shy of ROBERT McVICAR...Captain TEEGAN MOORE played in his 293rd career game Friday, moving past BRETT THURSTON and into eighth place on the club's all time list...He's also 4 points shy of the century mark...DUSTIN KOHN is 7 assists from 100...MARK LOUIS played in his 200th career game on Dec. 16th in REGINA while JEFF TOPILKO is two games shy of 250...CODEY BURKI is four points away from 150 in his 4-year WHL career in BRANDON.

NUMBERS: CODEY BURKI is currently 3 points behind RED DEER'S MARTIN HANZAL for the WHL scoring lead with 21 goals and 51 points...Left-winger MARK DERLAGO is fifth (25-20-45) and enters the second half of the regular season tied with BROCK NIXON of KAMLOOPS and KRIS HOGG of LETHBRIDGE for the WHL goal scoring lead...JURAJ SIMEK is 16th (22-18-40), fourth in rookie scoring and tied for first in goals among first year players...SIMEK is second in the WHL with 14 powerplay tallies...Defenceman DUSTIN KOHN leads the club with a +16 ranking and is tied for sixth in scoring among WHL blueliners...JEFF TOPILKO is 6-6-12 in his last 11 games...TYLER PLANTE is second in the WHL with 819 saves and is fourth in minutes played...THERAN YEO is s econd in the league with 130 penalty minutes (MIKE GAUTHIER of PRINCE ALBERT leads with 152).

DID YOU KNOW? BRANDON has lost 47 man games to injury...JURAJ SIMEK leads the team with 4 game winning goals...Without DUSTIN KOHN in the lineup this season, BRANDON has won just two games...ESPN's BARRY MELROSE, a former WINNIPEG JET and coach of the L.A. KINGS headlines the list of head table speakers for the 2007 WHEAT KINGS' SPORTSMAN'S DINNER, scheduled for February 3rd in the Keystone Centre...BRANDON'S first home game of 2007 will be Friday, January 5th when THE HOME DEPOT presents FAMILY SKATE DAY at the Keystone Centre. Fans will be encouraged to bring their skates to the game an join the players on the ice for a "free" public skate following the game.
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