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Miller marker ends Wheat Kings' skid

Ryley Miller snapped two streaks with one shot on Saturday.

Miller's short backhand, 3:26 into overtime, lifted the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 5-4 victory over the Red Deer Rebels at Westman Place, breaking his team out of a seven-game skid and ending the visitors' winning streak at nine games.

"That's huge," said Miller, who counts three game-winners — two of them in overtime — among his eight career Western Hockey League goals. "It gets the monkey off our back. It's nice to get on the right track again and finally get a win after the tough go we had here."

Alessio Bertaggia, Richard Nejezchleb and Jayce Hawryluk each had a goal and two assists as the Wheat Kings (11-17-2-2) battled back from a 2-0 first-period deficit. Jason Swyripa also scored for Brandon, while Corbin Boes made 44 saves for the win.

Matt Bellerive, Rhyse Dieno, Matt Dumba and Wyatt Johnson replied for the Rebels (19-11-2-1).

Red Deer outshot Brandon 24-11 in the first period and Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk credited Boes for keeping the game close.

"He battled for us," Gylywoychuk said. "He gave us a chance. There were some times where we were hemmed in and he made some big saves for us."

Nejezchleb converted a Bertaggia pass early in the second period to give the Wheat Kings a boost. Bertaggia then served as playmaker again, finding Hawryluk with a perfect pass that set up Brandon's first power-play goal in 18 chances going back to Nov. 27.

Swyripa redirected Nick Buonassisi's pass on a 2-on-1 into the top of the Red Deer net to give the Wheat Kings their first lead with 6:41 to play in the second period.

The Wheat Kings bent after that — twice surrendering tying goals to the Rebels, including Johnson's short-handed marker in the third period — but never broke.

In overtime, Miller parked in front of the Red Deer net, took a pass from Nejezchleb and slipped the puck along the ice between the feet of Rebels goalie Patrik Bartosak, who had a 32-save night.

Helping his team gut out a win was a perfect memory for Bertaggia to take with him to Switzerland as he leaves today to prepare with the Swiss team for the upcoming world junior championship in Russia. 

"I think it's the best thing," Bertaggia said. "I see a lot of the guys showing (a happy) reaction. Everybody worked hard and finally we got rewarded and that's just a great feeling."

ONE-TIMERS: Swyripa's goal was his first since Sept. 3, the Wheat Kings' third game of the season, while Buonassisi snapped a 12-game point-scoring drought with the assist … Brandon was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Red Deer went 0-for-1 … Attendance was 3,663 … Brandon scratched C Tyrel Seaman (suspected concussion), C Tim McGauley (suspected concussion), LW Jack Palmer (upper body) and D Rene Hunter (personal) … The Wheat Kings host the Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday (7 p.m., Westman Place).





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