The Brandon Wheat Kings are the best major junior hockey team that nobody is talking about. In the midst of a season-high 10-game winning streak, the Wheat Kings are currently on a longer heater than any other team within the three-league regional format that is the Canadian Hockey League.
The next-best winning streak within Brandon’s Western Hockey League belongs to the Kamloops Blazers, who have won nine-straight. Fellow WHL opponents the Portland Winterhawks – led by Manitoban netminder Joel Hofer – currently rank third with six wins a row.
The Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights have won five-straight games, while the Kitchener Rangers and Ottawa 67s have each earned wins their last four games. Despite having six teams that have seven-plus wins their past 10 games, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League does not currently have a single team with more than three wins strung together (Moncton, Rimouski, Cape Breton, Sherbrooke, Rouyn-Noranda).
So yes, the Wheat Kings are hot – very hot.
The first six of Brandon’s 10-straight victories came without offensive juggernaut Cole Reinhardt, while the mid-December debut of forward Marcus Kallionkieli (fifth round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights) has provided the team with some needed depth in the play-making department.
Goaltender Jiri Patera is 8-0-0 in his last eight starts, while stopping 275 of the 284 shots he has faced for a .968 save percentage, while boasting a 1.13 goals against average in those eight games – including three shutouts. Ethan Kruger has won his last two starts, stopping 63 of 64 shots, while picking up one shutout in the process.
During their 10-game streak, the Wheaties have amassed 35 goals for and just 10 against, while never giving up more than three goals in a game. While playing seven of those games in the Wheat City, Brandon has picked up three-straight wins on road – twice in Moose Jaw and once in Regina.
Although a couple of the Wheat Kings wins have come against teams lower in the standings than Brandon, the team has earned impressive victories over the East Division-leading Prince Albert Raiders, the 60-point Central Division’s Medicine Hat Tigers, the East-Division-leading Calgary Hitmen, and most recently a win over the Victoria Royal, who are ranked second in the BC Division.
Only five teams (Portland, Kamloops, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat) have scored more goals on the season than Brandon’s 164. The Wheat Kings’ 122 goals against is ranked sixth in the league. Despite those stats being where they are, Brandon continues to battle for a place within a crowded East Division.
Currently sitting third with a 25-17-1-2 record, the Wheat Kings will look to push their streak to 11 Saturday evening, as they host a red-hot Lethbridge Hurricanes team. Puck drop from Westoba Place in Brandon is set for 7:30 PM central.