A deadly power play and a key short-handed goal helped the Brandon Wheat Kings extend their Western Hockey League playoff series lead over the Regina Pats with a 5-2 victory on Saturday night at Westman Place.
Tyler Coulter opened the scoring with a short-handed goal four minutes into the game, and the Wheat Kings added three power-play markers to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal, which continues on Tuesday in Regina.
The Pats put some pressure on the Wheat Kings early, but it was Brandon that took the lead as Coulter waited for Nolan Patrick to join him on a rush, then opted to shoot himself and snapped the puck past Pats goalie Daniel Wapple. Later in the first, Jayce Hawryluk fired another bullet of a shot that beat Wapple high to the blocker side for a 2-0 Brandon lead after one.
"I feel like we really needed those (goals) tonight in the first period," Coulter said. "It was really big for our team just to have a good start. It always helps to have the first goal and I think we play a lot better when we get it."
From there, the Wheat Kings' defencemen took care of their scoring as Ivan Provorov, Kale Clague and Macoy Erkamps all found the net, with Provorov and Clague both adding assists for two-point nights.
The Pats cut the Wheat Kings' lead down to one twice in the second period on a pair of Colby Williams point shots, the second one deflected in by Pavel Padakin on a 5-on-3 power play.
Both times, Brandon responded to maintain the two-goal edge going into the third. Provorov followed Williams' goal by scoring on a power-play point shot of his own, caroming the puck off a Pat and into the net. Erkamps answered Padakin's goal by scoring with only 2 1/2 seconds left in the middle frame. John Quenneville picked up a rebound and slipped it back into the slot, with Erkamps charging in from the point and scoring on a backhand.
"The only goal that wasn't on special teams I thought maybe was the most important goal of all was the late goal in the second period to restore the two-goal lead and give us some momentum going into the break," said Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon, whose team was 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Pats were 2-for-6.
Clague finished the scoring with a power-play marker in the third, letting loose a one-timer that caught a piece of Wapple's pad but still made its way into the net.
Wapple finished with 36 saves, one more than Brandon netminder Jordan Papirny.
The Wheat Kings felt they didn't execute well despite winning the series opener 5-1 on Friday, and Papirny saw some progress in Game 2, but he still thinks there is room for improvement
"(Friday) we had our moments and we had our bad moments," he said. "But I think tonight we just got better as the game went on and I think our best game is still to come."
Pats head coach John Paddock also saw improvement from his charges, but said they couldn't overcome the difference on special teams.
"Our game tonight had some try in it, a lot more effort, a lot more determination," he said. "It was sort of a game of power plays and their power play is obviously very good. They scored on more than we did."
ONE-TIMERS: Wheat Kings LW Rihards Bukarts had three assists … Brandon D Colton Waltz limped off the ice after a first-period shift and did not return to the game, while Hawryluk did not play again after a hit by Regina D Sergey Zborovskiy late in the game. Zborovskiy was given a major for interference … The Pats lost D Chase Harrison to an injury in the third period after a hit by Hawryluk … Attendance was 4,752 … Clague's goal and assist were the first playoff points of his career … The Wheat Kings dressed the same lineup as Game 1, scratching LW Morgan Klimchuk, LW Quintin Lisoway, RW Stelio Mattheos, LW/D Mark Matsuba, D Mark Taraschuk and G Logan Thompson … The Pats made one change, with RW Rykr Cole, a native of Moosomin, Sask., who was injured in Game 1, being replaced by Jared McAmmond … Regina D James Hilsendager completed his three-game suspension and is eligible to return for Game 3.
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