Brandon, MB. – The Brandon Wheat Kings expect to have their new Russian defenceman on the ice later this month when the Western Hockey League club’s Training Camp opens up at Westman Communications Group Place.
General Manager / Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon says that plans to have 17-year old Ivan Provorov in the lineup this winter are progressing well.
“We were informed this week that Ivan’s transfer card has been approved by the IIHF which allows him to play in the Western Hockey League,” says McCrimmon. “Ivan remained in North America following his time in Quebec with the Russian World Junior team and will arrive in Brandon August 23rd in time for camp.”
A 6’ 193 lb blueliner, Provorov was the Wheat Kings first round selection (30th overall) in this summer’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
As a member of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the United States Hockey League last season, Provorov-who is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, scored six goals and 19 points in 56 games last year.
During his 2012-13 midget season in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, Provorov scored 97 points in 51 games. More recently, he represented Russia at the World Under 18 Hockey Championship in April and then was a member of the junior team that played in a weeklong international exhibition series in Montreal earlier this month.
While the Wheat Kings currently have two imports – Richard Nejezchleb and Rihards Bukarts – on their roster, the WHL club was permitted to make a selection last month as Nejezchleb is entering his final year of junior eligibility and could turn professional this coming season.
Nejezchleb scored 32 goals and 57 points in 66 games with the Wheat Kings last season while Bukarts, who was the seventh player chosen in the 2013 Import Draft, had 28 goals and 54 points in 65 games.
Canadian Hockey League clubs are permitted to carry a maximum of two imports on their roster.
In other hockey related news, the Wheat Kings will have a familiar face back as Goaltending Coach this season and the WHL club has announced a trade with the Prince George Cougars.
McCrimmon has confirmed that Matt Cockell is rejoining the club after spending the past two seasons with Hockey Canada. Selected in the fifth round by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1997 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Cockell played from 1996-99 with Saskatoon, Regina, Seattle and Spokane.
A Winnipeg product, Cockell has been a goaltending consultant for Canada’s National Women’s Program since 2007 and in his role as the women’s goaltending coach last winter, he helped the team capture the Gold Medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
“As Matt’s responsibilities with the Olympic team increased, he was forced to step away from our team the past two years,” says McCrimmon. “We are excited to welcome him back to our organization and at the same time want to recognize and thank Brent Zelenewich for his contributions as goalie coach these past two years.”
As for the trade, Brandon has sent 18-year old prospect Dominic Thom to Prince George in exchange for a conditional sixth round pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft. An 18-year old defenceman, Thom was chosen by the Wheat Kings in the ninth round three years ago.
After scoring one assist in two games for Brandon to start the 2013-14 season, Thom was returned to the Calgary Mustangs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In 29 games, he scored one goal and six points.
Thursday’s trade was Brandon’s second in less than a week. Last weekend, the Wheat Kings sent Dakota Boutin to the Saskatoon Blades for a conditional fifth round selection in 2015.
Brandon’s Training Camp is less than two weeks away, with the club’s pre-season opener scheduled for Friday, September 5th against Regina.