Brandon, MB. -- Two promising defencemen that should be front and center at next June’s National Hockey League Entry Draft will be hitting the ice at Westman Communications Group Place tonight when Ryan Pulock and the Wheat Kings play host to Seth Jones and the Portland Winter Hawks.
A former seventh round bantam draft choice of the Wheat Kings, Pulock was the third highest scoring blueliner in the Western Hockey League last season, setting career highs for goals (19), assists (41) and points (60). His 42 points as a rookie in 2010-11 established a new franchise record for 16-year old defenceman, breaking the previous standard set by Wade Redden (39) in 1993-94.
While helping Brandon out to an impressive 4-1-0 start, Pulock is currently among the league scoring leaders with two goals and 9 points in five games.
At 6’3” 205 lbs, Jones meanwhile has the athleticism, size and skating speed to make NHL scouts drool. He’s a smooth skating hockey phenom, who has led the U.S. U18 national team’s defence the past two seasons. This past summer, Jones turned his back on the more traditional American route of NCAA hockey to play in Portland, after the Winter Hawks acquired his playing rights from Everett.
Unlike Pulock, Jones is in his first WHL season and has been impressive. Everywhere he goes, scouts follow. The extra attention may be tough on some prospects but Jones is used to it, for a rather surprising reason. He’s the son of longtime NBA star Popeye Jones.
“I move the puck well,” Jones recently told The Hockey News. “I make the first pass and my skating is a huge part of my game – I try to focus on my stride. Nothing comes easy…nothing is going to be handed to you on a platter.”
Jones entered the week with one assist and two minor penalties in four games with the Hawks.
Tonight’s game is the first of a 4-game home stand for the Wheat Kings, who will play host to Matt Dumba and the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday.
The first 2,500 fans in attendance tonight will receive a 2012-13 Fridge Magnet Schedule, courtesy of Manitoba Hydro. Saturday night is the first Brandon Source for Sports - Subway Family Night of the season. The $48 Family Package, available at Source for Sports, includes two adult and two youth tickets, four 6" subs from Subway and four game programs.
All other tickets for this weekend's two games are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at www.keystonecentre.com