Tomorrow night, March 14, the Brandon Wheat Kings kick off their round-robin play in the Memorial Cup against the Windsor Spitfires. Leading the way for the Wheat Kings is none other than the Kings’ most recent 1st round selection, center Brayden Schenn. On Saturday, March 15, the Calgary Hitmen take on the Moncton Wildcats. Heading the charge for the Hitmen will be two more hopeful future-LA Kings, winger Brandon Kozun and goalie Martin Jones, who recently helped to win their team win the Western Hockey League Championship. Something called the Ed Chynoweth Cup. I don’t know who that is either. Its not important, so move on, will you?
The puck drops at 4PM Pacific, 7PM Eastern for Schenn’s game. So don’t forget to tune your dvrs or if your technological stature is no more up-to-date than Terry Murray’s offensive system, your vhs machines, to the NHL Network. For me, on Time-Warner Cable, NHL Network is 275. 471 if you’re all fancy with the HD. I don’t know what channel it is on other providers, and I’m not going to look it up for you. You can see the Hitmen’s first game at 11AM Pacific on Saturday. For the full tournament schedule, go here.
If you don’t know anything about these prospects, here’s a short breakdown with some links on each of the three Kings’ youngsters who you can watch fight for the ultimate Canadian Hockey League trophy over the next week:
Brayden Schenn (picked 5th overall in the 2009 draft) is a strong, hard-nosed player with a healthy amount of skill to back up his heavy hits and quality leadership. He played one game for the Kings last season when Andrei Loktionov was called up and immediately the subject of a lesson on painful shoulder injuries. The game was against the Canucks. Schenn held his own for the most part. Widely considered to have nothing left to prove at the junior level, Schenn is a legitimate contender for a roster spot coming into 2010 training camp.
Brandon Kozun (drafted 179th overall in 2009) is our new resident midget badass. I saw him play the pick-up games live during last offseason’s development camp games against Phoenix. Kozun’s knack for finding the back of the net, scoring 72 goals over the last two seasons in 137 games to go along with 143 assists over the same span, is tantalizing. But what will immediately jump out at you when you watch him play this tournament is something we have yearned for on the Kings all season; speed. This little dude is a shot of bottled lightning. Cool fact, he was born in Los Angeles, though some say Calgary, because the little jerk chose Canadian citzenship over American to play with the Mounty Boys at the World Junior Championships. He is 5’7″, 5’8″ or 5’9″, depending on what you read. Equally confused, he weighs in at 180lbs if you listen to the Kings’ website. Oddly enough, the Kings also have him at 5’8″. Hockeys future has him at 5’7″, 162lbs. Hockeydb at 5’9″ 164lbs. Go figure. They are probably all wrong. Regardless, Kozun is fearless and plays a surprisingly physical game for a munchkin. What’s that you just said? Theo someone? You really should speak more clearly.
Martin Jones (signed as an undrafted free agent after receiving an invitation to the 2008 training camp and performing strongly) is the opposite of Kozun. No, not because he is a goalie. Because he is a monster. Listed by everyone as 6’4″ and between 185-187lbs (why do they always agree on the big players but never on the small ones?), Jones has sound fundamentals to go with his towering frame. At least I think he has sound fundamentals. I don’t know much about him. I saw him play once. I just remember big. Watch for yourself, he’ll be easier to see than Kozun.
This will be just my second time watching this tournament, and I will keep you updated with how these three perform, but if the tournament is anything like last year, it really is worth checking out despite the Kings’ prospects. These kids will battle tooth and nail in spectacular, if not a bit spastic at times, fashion. So do yourselves a favor and give it a watch, not because you are a Kings’ fan, but because you are a hockey fan.