Delta, British Columbia, is 337 miles from Kennewick. For Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Macoy Erkamps, that’s practically in his backyard.
The Wheat Kings are on their biennial trip through the U.S. Division, and for Erkamps, 20, that means getting to see some familiar faces.
“It’s great to see family and friends,” Erkamps said prior to Friday’s game against the Tri-City Americans. “My aunt and uncle will be at the Seattle and Portland games.”
Erkamps’ parents, Sam and Ron, met the Wheat Kings in Spokane for Wednesday’s game against the Chiefs, and will follow the team as they make stops in Kennewick, Portland, Seattle and Everett.
“They are following the bus and playing some golf,” said Erkamps, who is the Wheat Kings captain.
Sam and Ron Erkamps have yet to visit Brandon, Manitoba, which is about 10 hours east of their son’s previous team in Lethbridge, Alberta, and 1,294 miles from Delta, which is 14 miles south of Vancouver.
“The travel is a lot longer, but I can’t complain about where I’m at right now,” Erkamps said. “This is my last year and it’s nice to have family come and watch me play.”
Of the 24 players on the Wheat Kings roster, 14 are from Manitoba. Erkamps is the only player whose hometown is west of Calgary, Alberta.
“There are a lot of Brandon and Winnipeg boys,” Erkamps said. “They are used to the cold. When we were getting ready to come out here, they wanted to know what to pack. I told them the weather would be good.”
Going into Friday’s game, the Wheat Kings were 7-1-0-2 (16 points) and tied for second in the Eastern Conference.
Erkamps is fourth in team scoring with five goals and nine assists. He ranks second in scoring among Western Hockey League defensemen.
“I feel like the old guy,” he said. “I remember going to camp when I was 14 or 15. We are happy about our record, but there is a lot to improve on and clean up.”