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Bukarts' return sparks Wheat Kings' win

Rihards Bukarts made a big impact in his return to the Brandon Wheat Kings' lineup.

After sitting out a one-game kneeing suspension on Friday, Bukarts was back in action on Saturday, scoring twice as the Wheat Kings wrapped up their road trip with a 4-1 Western Hockey League win over the Saskatoon Blades. The win pushed Brandon (27-19-5-1) back into a tie for first place in the East Division with the Swift Current Broncos.

Bukarts, who was ejected in the first period of Wednesday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Red Deer Rebels after scoring Brandon's first goal of that game, picked up where he left off on Saturday, opening the scoring with an early second-period power play goal. He's on a six-game point-scoring streak, with six goals and two assists in that stretch.

"Rihards, I thought in Red Deer the night that he got kicked out had a real good start to that game, and tonight you could tell early on that he was really skating well and he was dangerous all night," Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon said.

Eric Roy added another power-play marker in the second, with Bukarts and Jesse Gabrielle tacking on goals in the third period. Rene Hunter and Tim McGauley both had two assists for Brandon, which got 33 saves from Jordan Papirny, earning him first-star honours.

"(Papirny was) real solid," McCrimmon said. "He made some real good saves in each period."

Cameron Hebig scored a third-period goal for the Blades (14-36-1-3).

The Wheat Kings finished the night 2-for-9 on the power play and were perfect short-handed, killing off all five Blade power plays including a pair of 5-on-3 Saskatoon advantages late in the second.

After going 1-2-0-1 on their road trip, playing four times in five nights, the Wheat Kings will return home to host the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday (7 p.m., Westman Place).

ONE-TIMERS: The Wheat Kings have one game in hand on the Broncos, with the Regina Pats lurking one point back … Saskatoon G Troy Trombley made 38 saves … Brandon RW Peter Quenneville had an assist to stretch his point-scoring streak to eight games (five goals, eight assists) … McGauley has two assists in each of the past two games … The Wheat Kings played without C John Quenneville (upper body, week-to-week), who was their scoring leader going into the game, while LW Brett Kitt and D Kord Pankewicz were also scratched … The Blades were also missing their top scorer, RW Nikita Scherbak (upper body, day-to-day) … Calgary G Chris Driedger, who backstopped the Hitmen to a 7-4 victory over the Wheat Kings on Friday, was credited with a goal in a 5-2 loss to the Kootenay Ice on Saturday.

» rhenders@brandonsun.com

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