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Wheat Kings star Patrick returns to action

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BRANDON — Nolan Patrick will make his long-awaited return to the Brandon Wheat Kings lineup tonight.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/01/2017 (2208 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON — Nolan Patrick will make his long-awaited return to the Brandon Wheat Kings lineup tonight.

The 18-year-old Winnipeg forward, who has been out since Oct. 11 but is still widely considered to be the leading contender to be picked first overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, said he isn’t nervous as much as relieved.

“I’m excited,” Patrick said. “It’s been a long time, obviously. It’s just over three months now and nobody wants to be out for any time, especially that long. It sucks.”

PERRY BERGSON / THE BRANDON SUN Brandon Wheat Kings forward Nolan Patrick makes a quick stop at practice on Thursday as he prepares for his return to the lineup after missing three months due to injury.

The Wheat Kings play host to the Kootenay Ice tonight at Westman Place.

Patrick’s return after missing 35 games will certainly be welcomed by the team, which is holding on to the first of two wild-card spots in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference with a record of 20-17-4-0.

They are four points up on the Edmonton Oil Kings, who dealt some of their top players at the trade deadline Tuesday, and six points up on the Saskatoon Blades.

Patrick admitted he’s not where he would like to be with his conditioning.

“I’m feeling pretty good, but I think no matter how hard you work off the ice to get your cardio up, you’re never going to be in game shape,” he said. “I’m excited to be back and I guess we’ll see how (tonight) goes.”

He has four goals and five assists in six games this season.

Patrick was named the playoff MVP in the team’s run to the WHL championship last season, as he put up 30 points in 21 games after a 102-point regular season.

He had off-season sports hernia surgery stemming from an injury he suffered in Game 4 of the conference final against the Red Deer Rebels. The source of his current discomfort, which has been predictably called an upper-body injury, has not been definitively explained.

Not surprisingly, Wheat Kings head coach David Anning is delighted to see Patrick make his return.

“It’s great to have our captain back,” Anning said. “He’s missed some time here, but he’s a big part of our dressing room, he’s a big part of our leadership and, obviously, on the ice he’s one of the top players in the Western Hockey League.

“He’s a big addition to our group. It’s a great acquisition at the deadline where we get to add a piece of that magnitude to our club. I think it makes everyone around him better as well.”

Patrick will make his return against a hard-working club that was a seller at the WHL trade deadline.

The Ice, who dealt top over-agers Matt Alfaro and Zak Zborosky, sit in 11th place in the 12-team Eastern Conference with a record of 10-25-7-1.

Two of their wins came against the Wheat Kings at home: 2-1 and 6-2 on back-to-back nights in October.

— Brandon Sun

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