The Brandon Wheat Kings are turning their season around thanks, in no small part, to their local goaltender.

Carberry's own Carson Bjarnason has a 4-2 record in net for Brandon since the team's return from the Christmas break. The Wheat Kings are currently one point out of a playoff position, and Bjarnason believes they are hitting their stride at the perfect timing.

"Especially with the trades that we've had happen lately, we've added some depth up in the front end and in the back. I'm excited to keep things going in the second half with this new group."

The Wheat Kings brought in three new players at the trade deadline on January 10. Bjarnason says they've had to show the new guys what being a Wheat King is all about through these first few days and notes it has gone well.

The goalie believes they are primed to get hot in the back half of the regular season.

"I think we just have to play like a playoff team and come to each game ready to bring our all," Bjarnason explains. "A big thing for us has been staying out of the box. We've been a little bit of an undisciplined team lately, and that's cost us. Doing all the little things right starts in practice, and we have to make these good habits creep into our game in the right way."

Bjarnason has been having a stellar season. As a 17-year-old, the netminder places fourth in the WHL in total saves and has two shutouts this season. His play has been recognized by many at the next level, as the Carberry product was given a first-round draft grade by NHL Central Scouting.

"I came to the rink, and a couple of the guys told me. I hadn't really done much research on it beforehand, so I didn't really know what it meant but it's a pretty prestigious thing to have on your resume. Going on from there, the thing for me was just to focus on each game," Bjarnason continues. "I'm in a Wheat Kings jersey, and I'm trying to win as many games as I can as a Wheat King. It's hard to not think about the draft year but I'm going to have fun with it. I didn't really get to go through it in the WHL process, so I'm going to enjoy it now and soak it all in."

Bjarnason went undrafted in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft but participated in the Wheat Kings camp as a walk-on. The Carberry native went on to earn the backup role in Brandon last season, beating out two prospects selected instead of him in the draft. Just 16 months later, Bjarnason finds himself as one of just two goaltenders projected to be taken in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft.

He says his teammates have been a big help when it comes to staying grounded.

"We have fun with it. They throw the odd chirp here and there but they know I'm a focused guy and take each game seriously. Come game time, they know where the line is, they have a good judgement of that. It's a nice balance of jokes and seriousness. Our team is clicking right now, and everybody is getting along."

Having made the transition to a full-time starter for the first time this season, Bjarnason outlines the biggest obstacles he's had to overcome.

"A big thing is taking care of myself. I didn't realize it last year but I have a couple of buddies throughout the league, and whenever they'd have stints of playing a fair amount of games in a row, they'd talk about how hard on the body it is. It's definitely not easy, and I didn't expect it to be as much of a factor as it has been."

Bjarnason and the Wheat Kings will be back in action on Friday as they travel to Calgary for a meeting with the Hitmen.