The Brandon Wheat Kings flipped on the power switch on Wednesday night.
Nick Buonassisi and Tim McGauley scored power-play goals 1:18 apart in the third period as the Wheat Kings earned a 3-2 Western Hockey League road victory over the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.
Brandon's power play was only successful on four of 41 attempts over the previous nine games, and its return to effectiveness was a welcome sight for head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk.
"We haven't got a lot of goals here as of late on the power play," said Gylywoychuk, whose charges were 2-for-4 with the man advantage. "Give credit to the guys, they worked at it and found a way. The biggest thing we were doing tonight (is) we were getting some pucks to the net with people in front and we got rewarded."
Buonassisi finished with two goals — his first since Sept. 28 — as the Wheat Kings improved to 7-5-2-0 and moved into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with the Red Deer Rebels.
The Giants (2-9-0-0) managed only four shots in the first period, but they scored on one of them as Jackson Houck fired the puck past Wheat Kings goalie Corbin Boes from the high slot, 2:03 into the game. Brandon's Alessio Bertaggia came within centimetres of tying it up on a breakaway, beating Giants goalie Payton Lee, but not the goal post.
Buonassisi got the equalizer in the second period, skating into the offensive zone along the left-wing wall and sneaking a wrist shot past Lee. He almost added another minutes later on a Chad Robinson setup, redirecting the puck off the crossbar on a play that was initially ruled a goal, but later disallowed after video review.
Buonassisi finally did get his second goal, 3:42 into the third period, as he cashed in on the rebound of a point shot, with McGauley's winner following shortly afterward.
"We stayed the course as the game went on and kept going, kept going, kept going," Gylywoychuk said. "We found a way to get one in, and I thought even the disallowed goal was something that gave us some life. … We got the third goal, which was a big goal for us, and it wasn't pretty but we found a way to win."
Penalties were a big problem for the Wheat Kings in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Victoria Royals, and they almost reared their ugly head again on Wednesday, even though Brandon was short-handed only four times.
Brett Kulak scored with 4:32 left to cut the lead to one, while Brandon defenceman Tyler Yaworski was serving a tripping minor. Yaworski, who was also in the penalty box for Victoria's OT winner a night earlier, then was assessed a charging major with only 26 seconds left to play.
The Wheat Kings killed that off, but Gylywoychuk said his players need to be better at avoiding those kinds of penalties.
"I think that it's something that we've got to learn and they got a goal on it, but I thought our penalty kill overall was pretty good tonight," he said. "But again, we're getting ourselves in penalty trouble. We're taking some undisciplined penalties and I think that's going to be something that we've got to make sure that we correct here."
ONE-TIMERS: Yaworski's major will be reviewed by the league for a possible suspension … Robinson, acquired from the Rebels on Monday, assisted on Buonassisi's second goal to earn his first point as a Wheat King … Boes made 27 saves, while Lee made 25. Lee, a 16-year-old call-up, started ahead of Liam Liston and Tyler Fuhr, who both came up through the Wheat Kings' system. Fuhr did not dress … The Wheat Kings get Thursday off before visiting the Canadian Hockey League's top-ranked team, the Kamloops Blazers, on Friday (8:30 p.m., CKLQ).