The Brandon Wheat Kings held the Medicine Hat Tigers' top guns in check for half of Saturday's game at Westman Place.
It wasn't long enough.
Third-period markers by Curtis Valk and Hunter Shinkaruk — the 23rd of the season for both players — lifted the Tigers to a 4-2 Western Hockey League victory, putting eighth-place Medicine Hat seven points ahead of 11th-place Brandon in the Eastern Conference standings. Both Tigers stars had all of their production in the second half of the contest, with Valk tallying the winner and adding two assists, while Shinkariuk picked up one assist to go along with his goal.
"The game was tied. It was an opportunity for us to get two points at home," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, whose team has dropped three straight games to sit at 14-23-2-2. "I don't think that we started (the third period) very well; they scored on the very first shift. It just can't happen and I don't think we responded from that at all."
Defenceman Dylan Bredo also had a goal and an assist, while Jacob Doty rounded out the scoring for the Tigers (18-20-2-1). Tim McGauley and Jason Swyripa scored to give Brandon 1-0 and 2-1 leads before Medicine Hat fought back.
"That killer mentality needs to be there, the killer instinct," Swyripa said. "I don't know how we're going to find it but I think we will and it'll come."
After Swyripa crashed the net midway through the second period to put the Wheat Kings ahead 2-1, Bredo replied 3:01 later to tie the score. Valk scored the winner on a wraparound only 41 seconds into the third period, with Shinkaruk notching the insurance goal on a power play.
The Tigers went 1-for-3 with the man advantage, while the Wheat Kings went scoreless on four chances. Two of them were in the third period, although the final chance came with only 52 seconds left when Brandon was down by two goals.
"We had an opportunity to get the game tied up in the third period on on our power plays," Gylywoychuk said. "I think in the third period we just didn't play with any pace and tempo. We didn't play the right way. We turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone and, in the end, we weren't able to play a territorial game, which we needed to to have success."
Corbin Boes made 31 saves in the Weat Kings net, while Cam Lanigan stopped 20 shots for the Tigers
ONE-TIMERS: D Rene Hunter returned to Brandon's lineup after missing more than a month on a personal leave, while C/RW Jayce Hawryluk got back from the World Under-17 Challenge just in time to play … The Wheat Kings scratched their leading scorer, LW Alessio Bertaggia (Swiss junior team) as well as LW Mike Ferland (upper body), C/LW John Quenneville (groin), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and D Ryley Miller (ill) … Attendance was 4,171 … The Wheat Kings visit the ninth-place Regina Pats on Sunday (5:35 p.m., CKLQ).