Under many circumstances, rallying from two goals down to force overtime and finish a weekend with three of a possible four points would be a reason to smile.
But for the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, the point they earned in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Kootenay Ice at Westman Place was little consolation for letting another point get away from them.
"We're happy for those three points for this weekend, but we were really close (to four) so it's disappointing," said Wheat Kings winger Marek Kalus, who scored a short-handed goal in the third period to send the game to overtime.
Jon Martin scored two goals, including the winner 1:17 into overtime, as the Ice (28-29-2-0) recovered from Friday's 3-2 loss to the Wheat Kings to move within a point of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference. Despite the loss, the Wheat Kings (21-34-3-2) moved a point ahead of the Regina Pats and into sole possession of 11th place in the conference.
While the game was decided in overtime, the Wheat Kings' worst stretch was the first 10 minutes of the second period. Entering the frame with a 1-0 lead after Ryan Pulock's goal in the first, Brandon quickly fell behind as Martin, Brock Montgomery and Kyle O'Connor all found the net for Kootenay.
"The second period is a period we just can't let happen," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "They score early and then we just stopped working. We put our backs against the wall and they went (up) 2-1, 3-1. It almost kinda felt like the game was over. We've got to start just pushing through in that situation."
To their credit the Wheat Kings did begin to push late in the period, seemingly drawing energy from a questionable tripping call against Pulock. Nick Buonassisi, who replaced Pulock after the Wheat Kings killed the penalty, stepped onto the ice and picked up Eric Roy's clearing effort, going in on a breakaway and beating Kootenay goalie Mackenzie Skapski with 47 seconds left before the second intermission.
The Wheat Kings penalty killers came up big again in the third, with Kalus scoring on the rebound of Tim McGauley's shot on a 2-on-1 rush to tie the game.
"It was a situation where our penalty kill really gave us momentum tonight," said Gylywoychuk, whose team killed off all four of their minor penalties and went 1-for-4 on the power play. "I think it was a situation where we used that momentum and I think that the big goal (by Buonassisi) right after that penalty kill really gave us life."
The game remained tied until overtime when Martin, a 17-year-old from Winnipeg, collected Sam Reinhart's pass on a 2-on-2 rush and fired a wrist shot past Curtis Honey, spoiling a 38-save effort by the Brandon netminder and leaving the Wheat Kings with a sour taste in their mouths.
"It was a tough, tough loss for us," said McGauley, who had two assists, giving him 12 helpers in eight games this month. "I mean we battled hard in the third period. We really wanted this win and we tried our best. We did everything possible and unfortunately at the end they managed to get one by us."
ONE-TIMERS: Skapski made 24 saves … Wheat Kings C/RW Jayce Hawryluk had his point-scoring streak snapped at seven games (six goals, six assists) … D Tyler Yaworski completed his six-game suspension on Saturday, while Brandon also scratched G Corbin Boes (knee, indefinite), RW/LW Richard Nejezchleb (hand, indefinite) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite) … After finishing their seven-game homestand with a 3-3-1-0 record, the Wheat Kings hit the road for their next three games, starting Monday against the East Division leading Saskatoon Blades (5:35 p.m., CKLQ).