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Brandon Has Playoff Fever?

March 18, 2009 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Brandon Wheat Kings News Release

Brandon, Manitoba -- With only two days to go before the start of the Western Hockey League playoffs, the Keystone Centre box office reports that only 2,100 tickets have been sold for game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series between the Wheat Kings and visiting Kootenay Ice.

The Wheat Kings, who finished second in the WHL's Eastern Division and third in the Conference this season with a record of 48-19-3-2, played before back to back sellouts during the final week of regular season play and averaged close to 4,100 fans per home game in 2007-08.

Unfortunately, Brandon's second half momentum - both at the turnstiles and on the ice - hasn't carried over for the post-season, at least not yet.

With the series shifting to Cranbrook for games three and four next week, the Wheat Kings are hoping to see and hear a large crowd when they take to the ice for the series opener on Friday.

While ticket sales have been far from brisk, the Wheat Kings continue preparations for what they expect will be a stiff test from the Ice, who finished the regular season with a record of 35-29-2-6.

For one good reason, why not check out the 4-game season series between the two teams. The Wheat Kings and Ice split the four games, with each team winning once on the road. As well, two of the games were decided by a Shootout. Brandon hasn't played the Ice since defeating Kootenay 6-5 in a Shootout on January 24th.

During the 4-game season series, veterans Andrew Clark, Matt Lowry and Jay Fehr led the Wheat Kings in scoring with ten, eight and 7 points respectively. Seven of Clark's points were goals.

As for the Ice, Tylan Stephens led Kootenay with two goals and six points against the Wheat Kings, followed by Andrew Bailey with four goals and 5 points.

In goal, former Kamloops Blazer James Priestner appeared in three of the four games, compiling a 3.91 goals against average and an .849 save percentage. Todd Mathews meanwile played in 3 games against the Wheat Kings, posting a 4.14 goals against average and an .875 save percentage.

To say that post-season play is nothing new for these two teams would be an understatement. The Wheat Kings are entering the playoffs for the sixteenth time in the past 17 seasons while the Ice have qualified for the 11th consecutive year. Brandon will be facing the Ice in post-season play for the first time ever.

As for playoff experience, Kootenay has 142 games of playoff experience. Andrew Bailey and Dustin Sylvester share the team lead with 23.

Former Medicine Hat Tiger Matt Lowry leads the Wheat Kings with 28 games, followed by Andrew Clark and Keith Aulie with 23 and 21 respectively. In total, Brandon has 171 games of playoff experience.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday night at Westman Place, with game five (if necessary) set to be played in Brandon on Friday, March 27th. Should the series go the distance, the Wheat Kings and Ice would play the seventh and deciding game on Tuesday, March 31st at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

This game would have to be played in Winnipeg, due to a scheduling conflict with the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

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