Red Deer, AB. -- The Brandon Wheat Kings expect to have their captain back in the lineup tonight when they kick off a 3-game Alberta road trip in Red Deer against the Rebels.
Defenceman Ryan Pulock, who currently leads the Western Hockey League club in scoring, has missed the team's last five games with a hand injury but has been medically cleared to return to the Brandon lineup.
“It’s a thing that you need to battle through and I’m prepared to do that," Pulock told CKLQ's Bruce Luebke on Thursday. “Last few games have been pretty solid. There was a little setback against Saskatoon (on Tuesday) but I think it was a good learning curve for us. Guys realize that they have to come to work every night, they can’t take nights off or else it’s really going to hurt you. With me coming back, it’s going to add a little bit of excitement – I’m excited, for sure.”
Entering the weekend, the Grandview, Manitoba product is tied for 11th among all Western League defencemen in scoring with ten goals and 31 points in 37 games.
Pulock rejoins a Brandon team that has won three of its last five games to remain eleven points out of a playoff spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference. In addition to tonight's game against the Rebels, the 17-27-2-2 Wheat Kings will play the defending champion Oil Kings in Edmonton on Saturday and the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday afternoon.
“I think this is a key step in the year. They’re some tough teams, but definitely beatable teams if we come out and play the games we need to play,” Pulock went on to tell CKLQ. “It’s getting down to the wire here and we need to step up and start getting some points.”
With less than two months remaining in the 2012-13 regular season, the Wheat Kings are hoping to make a run and qualifty for post season play for the thirteenth consecutive season.
While Pulock is set to return tonight, the Wheat Kings still have a number of players on the sidelines including import Richard Nejezchleb, Tyrel Seaman and John Quenneville. Both Seaman and Nejezchleb will not play this weekend.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)