The Brandon Wheat Kings begin their season on Friday night against the Winnipeg ICE and when the puck drops, a new face is expected to be in the lineup.
The club has acquired 17-year-old left-winger Riley Ginnell from the Kamloops Blazers, in exchange for a sixth-round selection in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft.
Playing last year with the Edge School Prep team, Riley had 19 points (10G) in 24 games. He also was quite productive with the Blazers’ this preseason. He had four points (1G) in six games.
Ginnell was taken in the seventh round, 151st overall at the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
“He’s a big body that has really good hands and a really good hockey sense,” said Darren Ritchie, general manager. “He’s always trending in the right direction. We’ve watched him for the past couple of years and he’s really improved.”
“He’s a guy that we’re going to depend on here a lot,” said Ritchie. “He’s going to play some good minutes. We want to work with him and we know he’s going to get better every week.”
Friday night’s game will also have plenty of bragging rights up for grabs on a family aspect as well. The newest Brandon Wheat King will face his brother, Brad Ginnell who plays for Winnipeg. Brad, who’s 19 is playing in his fourth year in the Western Hockey League and he had 41 points last year for the ICE (16G).
That won’t be the only brotherly battle out on the ice, however. Jonny Lambos of Brandon will go up against his brother Carson Lambos who suits up for the ICE. Jonny has played in 44 games as a member of the Wheat Kings’ while Carson will play his sixth game as a member of the ICE on Friday.
“I think anytime brothers play against each other they’re looking for some bragging rights,” said Ritchie. “I think all those guys are very excited to play against their siblings.”
In some other Wheat Kings’ news, the team has signed 15-year-old Jesiah Bennett to his first Standard Player Agreement. Bennett was picked in the third round, 52nd overall by Brandon at the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
“He’s a right-hand shot and for a big guy he has some really good speed and he shoots the puck very well in stride,” said Ritchie on Bennett. “He has a physical element to his game that you like in a young guy. He had an outstanding training camp and he earned this.”
Jesiah will return to Winnipeg this season where he will play with the Rink Hockey Academy U18 Prep team.
Last year with the Rink Hockey Academy Bantam Prep squad, Bennett had 15 goals and 31 points in 29 regular-season games. He added one goal in two playoff games.
“Our organization will watch Jesiah play quite a bit. We’re quite fortunate that he’s very close to us,” continued Ritchie. “We’ll always know what’s going on with him and we’ll be in close contact with him.”
With the acquisition of Ginnell who’s expected to be an impact player now and the signing of Jesiah who is expected to be an impact player in the future, it’s time to get down to business.
When 7:30 hits on Friday night and the puck drops, two points are up for grabs and the first bragging rights of the season will be fought for.
“It’s an exciting time of the year. You’re always wondering how your team will do,” concluded Ritchie. “We’re looking forward to starting the season on Friday.