After having their hands full with Prince George most of the night, the Brandon Wheat Kings played their best hockey at the game's most crucial times to earn a 6-3 victory over the Cougars Saturday at Westman Place.
After taking an early 2-0 lead, the Wheat Kings (26-17-5-0) fell behind 3-2 before getting three key goals from their defencemen to move within a point of the first-place Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League's East Division. Eric Roy tied the game with a power-play marker late in the second, captain Ryan Pulock notched the winner midway through the third, and Ryan Pilon scored with the man advantage late in the game to give the Wheat Kings a two-goal lead and some breathing room.
"I thought Prince George played real well tonight," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "They responded to a tough night (losing 8-0) Friday in Regina and even tonight were down 2-0 early in the game but didn't go away. I thought we had some big goals at key times. Eric Roy to tie the game in the second really helped us going into the intermission."
With team scoring leader John Quenneville out with an upper-body injury, his brother Peter stepped up with two goals, opening the scoring and later finishing it with an empty-netter. Quintin Lisoway also scored for the Wheat Kings, who have earned points in their last five games, taking nine of a possible 10 points in that span.
The Cougars (18-26-2-5) got all of their scoring from one line, with Todd Fiddler notching a goal and two assists, while former Wheat King Klarc Wilson and 16-year-old rookie Jansen Harkins each had a goal and an assist. Goals 47 seconds apart by Fiddler and Wilson in the first period got the Cougars back on even ground after they fell behind early, with Harkins giving Prince George its only lead midway through the second.
After Roy picked the top corner on former Virden Oil Capitals netminder Ty Edmonds with 1:38 left in the middle frame, the Wheat Kings picked up their game, with Pulock firing a blast through traffic to put Brandon up to stay with 9:29 remaining in the third.
"I thought we were really sloppy for half of the game and lucky to stay in it," said Pulock who is tied for first among WHL defencemen with 15 goals. "And then … by the end of the second we started to bear down a bit and going into the third I thought we had a pretty solid period."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 3,814 … The Wheat Kings were 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Cougars were 0-for-3 … Edmonds and Brandon G Curtis Honey both made 25 saves … Pulock, who had an assist to go along with his goal, and Wheat Kings C Tim McGauley, who set up two goals, are both on five-game point-scoring streaks. Pulock's return on Saturday was a gametime decision after he missed Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Broncos due to an illness … In addition to John Quenneville, Brandon scratched D Kord Pankewicz and LW Brett Kitt … Prince George played without three of its top eight scorers in C Zach Pochiro, LW Chase Witala and C Alex Forsberg … With three games in hand on the Broncos, the Wheat Kings set out for a four-game road trip this week, starting on Tuesday when they play a matinee against the Edmonton Oil Kings (noon, CKLQ).