A major improvement on Friday's effort wasn't enough to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a victory over the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday.
Former Wheat King Dakota Conroy set up three goals — two of them six seconds apart — as the Raiders beat Brandon 5-2 in Prince Albert, Sask., to sweep a home-and-home series.
Reid Gardiner, Leon Draisaitl, Logan McVeigh, Mark McNeill and Chance Braid scored to boost the Raiders (18-7-0-2) into first place in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference. Eric Roy scored a first-period power-play goal and assisted on Chad Robinson's marker for the Wheat Kings (10-13-2-1).
The Wheat Kings' performance in the first period was a quantum leap ahead of their showing in Friday's 6-0 home loss to the Raiders, but their night quickly turned sour in the second frame when Draisaitl and McVeigh scored a pair of rapid-fire goals shortly after Prince Albert stymied a Brandon power play.
"I thought we did some better things tonight than we did last night, obviously," said Wheat Kings assistant coach Darren Ritchie, whose team was tied 1-1 with the Raiders after 20 minutes. "I thought our start was good, we got the first goal of the game and then we had a power play where we controlled most of the play in their zone and had some good opportunities. We didn't get a goal on it, but I thought it gave us momentum. Then I thought in the second period we had a power play that I thought took all the momentum that we had away from us and then they scored the next shift after, which turned the whole game around."
The Raiders tacked on another goal before the end of the second, outshooting the Wheat Kings 21-8 in the frame. They stretched the lead to 5-1 in the third before Robinson's late goal made the final score a little more respectable.
The Wheat Kings were playing their third straight game without leading scorer Alessio Bertaggia and their second without captain and second-leading scorer Ryan Pulock. Ritchie admitted having players like that in the lineup may have helped prevent the game from getting away from Brandon in the second period, but he added that the coaches are confident in the lineup the club is able to ice right now.
"We're all in this together and we've played enough games now that everybody's a part of our team and our guys here are getting bigger roles with the other guys out," he said. "It's nice to have those guys in the lineup, but right now we don't have them. We're playing with the guys that we have and we're comfortable with the guys that we have."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon G Curtis Honey made 35 saves, while G Luke Siemens stopped 24 shots for Prince Albert … The Wheat Kings were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all five Raiders power plays, although Braid's goal came only one second after a Jayce Hawryluk penalty expired … In addition to Pulock (upper body) and Bertaggia (lower body), Brandon scratched RW Jens Meilleur (lower body) and C Tyrel Seaman (upper body) … D Colton Waltz returned to the Wheat Kings' lineup after missing four games on a personal leave … Brandon D Ryley Miller was not suspended after being assessed a kneeing major late in Friday's game and played on Saturday.