Clarke Breitkreuz of the Cougars meets brother Brett, a Giant, tonight at CN Centre
Brett Breitkreuz better keep his head up tonight when he steps onto CN Centre ice to face the Prince George Cougars.
His younger brother Clarke, a Cougar right winger, might go out of his way to rough up the 20-year-old in his debut as a Vancouver Giants forward.
"Maybe I'll try to run him," said Clarke. "He's a big guy and we've had our fair share of scraps."
Brett has a reputation as a tough guy with a flair for producing offence and he's been known to drop the gloves a few times to settle his differences. If that happens tonight or in the rematch Saturday, the six-foot, 173-pound Clarke doesn't plan to be his dance partner.
"I could always outchirp him, but when it came down to it, I'd have to get on my horse and run pretty fast," Clarke said.
Clarke, who joined the Cougars after Christmas, suited up as a member of the Regina Pats against Brett in a game early last season in Edmonton but watched most of it from the bench. He'll probably have a much larger role tonight, playing on the second line with Parker Stanfied and Spencer Asuchak.
"It's exciting, I played him last year for the first time ever, and lots of family came up," Clarke said. "I didn't see a lot of icetime that game, and he did, so now I'm even more excited to play him this time around, knowing I'm getting a regular shift. Maybe I can do a little more against him."
The Breitkreuz boys grew up in Springside, Sask., a farming community a two-hour drive northeast of Regina near the Manitoba border.
Clarke has one assist and eight penalty minutes in nine games with the Cougars since being called up from the Yorkton Terriers of the SJHL. He played 20 games last season for the Pats but was sent down to Yorkton. This season he had six goals and 20 points in 30 games with the Terriers and helped Canada West win the silver medal at the World Junior A Challenge.
With the younger Breitkreuz in the lineup, the Cats have lost seven of those nine games, and are on a five-game slide since reeling off wins over Kamloops and Vancouver. They remain last overall in the WHL.
"To be honest, I don't think we are a last-place team," Clarke said. "The way we play, we always seem to work hard and create chances. But as far as pucks going in the net, we're struggling right now. My line is creating chances on a regular basis and we can't deliver at the right times around the net. It's good we are creating chances, because eventually they'll go in."
In Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Red Deer, Asuchak had one of the best chances of the net, but was stopped on a partial breakaway when he was pokechecked by Rebels' goalie Darcy Kuemper. Petr Senkerik nailed the post in the third period with what could have been the equalizer after a feed from the younger Brietkreuz.
Brett started his WHL career with the Kelowna Rockets, where he played the 2006-07 season. The Oil Kings picked him in the expansion draft and he was there 2 1/2 seasons. He was sent to the Giants at the trade deadline along with European forward Tomas Vincour for Garry Nunn, Mike Piluso, Sebastien Svendsen and a pair of draft picks. The 20-year-old Breitkreuz had nine goals and 19 points in 40 games with Edmonton this season, coming off a 55-point season the year before.
Clarke figures Giants fans are going to like his six-foot-two, 211-pound brother.
"Vancouver has small forwards and he's bringing size and some grit to that team and hopefully he fits in well there," said Clarke. "He's hoping to help them into a long playoff run and provide toughness, offence, and a little bit of everything."