Brandon, MB – For the first time in five years, Winnipeg's MTS Centre will play host to Western Hockey League playoff action as the Brandon Wheat Kings have announced plans to play its opening round home games in the provincial capital.
The Wheat Kings, who enter the second to last week of regular season play sitting in seventh place in the WHL's Eastern Conference, have been forced to play their first round playoff home games in Winnipeg due to the annual scheduling conflict with the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.
While the Wheat Kings first round opponent has yet to be determined, the WHL club has announced that games three and four of the best of seven series will be played on Monday and Thursday, March 28th and 31st. Should a sixth game be necessary, it will be played on Monday, April 4th.
"While disappointed to not have the Keystone available, we are excited about returning to the MTS Centre," says Wheat Kings' general manager and head coach Kelly McCrimmon. "Although it has been five years since we last played in Winnipeg, we have enjoyed some very memorable games over the years. Our players will find it very exciting."
Additional details on ticket prices and on sale dates will be finalized in the next week.
The Wheat Kings enter Wednesday's game against the league leading Saskatoon Blades with a record of 29-30-1-7, good for 66 points and 7th place in the Eastern Conference. Brandon trails sixth place Edmonton by one point, with five games remaining in the 2010-11 WHL regular season. The Wheat Kings currently lead Prince Albert and Lethbridge by nine points with just over a week left. The Raiders and Hurricanes meanwhile are battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both have one game in hand on the Wheat Kings, which means Brandon's magic number to clinch a playoff berth is two wins or losses (by Lethbridge and / or Prince Albert).
Brandon is hoping to nail down a Western League playoff berth for the eleventh consecutive season.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Wheat Kings would be facing off against the Red Deer Rebels in a best of seven opening round playoff series. The Rebels currently sit second in the conference with a Central Division leading record of 44-16-3-4. Red Deer leads Medicine Hat by just three points in the race for top spot in the division and second seed in the conference.
This could mark the first time since the 2006 playoffs that Brandon has been forced to relocate to Winnipeg for post-season play. That year the Wheat Kings played the Moose Jaw Warriors.