De­fence­man makes good point

Jakob Bra­haney is be­ing used on the point on power-play in ab­sence of the in­jured Sean Day

Kingston Whig-Standard - - SPORTS - DOUG GRA­HAM dgra­ham@post­media.com

De­fence­man Jakob Bra­haney has had a break­out year for the Kingston Fron­te­nacs this On­tario Hockey League sea­son and now he’s adding to his role.

The 18-year-old Bra­haney, eas­ily the most im­proved player on the team, is be­ing used on the power play in the ab­sence of the in­jured Sean Day.

“Some­body needed to step up and I think I have been work­ing to­ward that [power-play time],” Bra­haney said. “I just kind of move the puck. I have two phe­nom­e­nal play­ers on my left and right [Ja­son Robert­son and Gabe Vi­lardi]. Get them the puck and let them do the rest is how it has worked for me.”

Bra­haney had lit­tle bits of pow­er­play time ear­lier in the year, but with Day out, he has be­come the de­fence­man man­ning the point with for­wards Robert­son, Vi­lardi, Cliff Pu and Li­nus Ny­man.

“He’s earned it. All year he has been a guy that we have de­pended on to play big min­utes,” Fron­te­nacs as­sis­tant coach Kur­tis Fos­ter, who played de­fence in the Na­tional Hockey League, said.

“He seems to be get­ting a lit­tle more con­fi­dent with the pucks, mak­ing plays that ear­lier in the year he wasn’t,” he said. “The big­gest thing we ask Jakob to do on the power play is just to skate with a lot of en­ergy. To have a guy that moves across the blue­line with a lit­tle more speed kind of puts [Robert­son and Vi­lardi] in a po­si­tion of hav­ing more time. That’s what we want.

“Brats has done a good job of com­ing in and keep­ing the power play go­ing.”

The Fron­te­nacs are tied for fourth with the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs with a power play click­ing at a 24 per cent suc­cess rate.

Bra­haney has a goal and eight as­sists while on the power play. That’s added to his ca­reer-best num­bers of five goals and 20 points in 51 games. Last year he had five points in 53 games.

“He has the abil­ity to skate across the bluelne with his head up and dis­trib­ute pucks. At the same time, he’s got petty good vi­sion and can shoot from up there as well,” Fron­te­nacs head coach Jay Varady said.

Bra­haney is also the team leader with a plus/mi­nus of +31 — he is tied for fifth in the league — and, along with Ja­cob Pa­que­tte and Eemeli Rasa­nen, he con­tin­ues to be a big­minute player on de­fence.

“We’ve had a lot of min­utes and we’ve all done well with that, and we just have to keep build­ing off it,” Bra­haney said.

“Those guys all sea­son have played all sit­u­a­tions. They have done a good job,” said Varady, who wants to see a bet­ter start de­fen­sively from his team in Wed­nes­day’s game in Ot­tawa against the 67’s.

The Fron­te­nacs got away with a slow start in Sun­day’s 3-2 win over the North Bay Bat­tal­ion by scor­ing three goals in the third pe­riod.

“I think we were a bit loose [at the start] and didn’t man­age the puck great. For us, that is part of our iden­tity,” Varady said. “It’s a pos­ses­sion game. If we can play of­fence more than de­fence, we’ll prob­a­bly be in a bet­ter spot.”

Fos­ter said what hap­pened in the third pe­riod was that the de­fence did a good job on gap con­trol and that was aided by good back pres­sure by the for­wards.

“That gives our de­fence an op­por­tu­nity to play 2-on-2 or 1-on-1 straight up and not wor­ry­ing about [op­po­nents’ for­wards] cross­ing. When a team gets in­side the blue and crosses, it makes it re­ally tough,” Fos­ter said.

“At the end of the day, when you are get­ting pucks deep and play­ing in their zone, that’s when good stuff hap­pens for us.”

Fron­te­nacs notes

Sean Day was at Tues­day’s prac­tice but was not on the ice. He moved freely in jog­ging to and from the area along the side lead­ing to the bench. Day said his knee in­jury “is get­ting bet­ter.” Fron­tencs gen­eral man­ager Dar­ren Keily said both Day and Max Jones are week-to-week in their path back to play­ing. … Tyler Burnie did not prac­tise Tues­day. He missed Sun­day’s game and is out with an up­per-body in­jury. … The Fron­te­nacs have won four of five against the 67’s, in­clud­ing twice in Ot­tawa.

IAN MACALPINE/THE WHIG-STAN­DARD

Kingston Fron­te­nacs de­fence­man Jakob Bra­haney has “earned” the ex­tra time he see­ing on the power play.

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