After spending Wednesday and Thursday night in the hospital, Jayce Hawryluk spent Friday night celebrating the Brandon Wheat Kings’ sweep of their Western Hockey League playoff series with the Regina Pats.
Hospitalized after feeling light-headed and short of breath following Wednesday’s victory in Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final, Hawryluk was discharged on Friday and back in the lineup for Game 4, scoring a goal and assisting on another to lead the Wheat Kings to a 5-1 victory at Westman Place.
"I was able to recover and get some fluids and whatnot into me. I’m ready to play and I want to play. I want to be out here as much as anything," said Hawryluk, who led the Wheat Kings with five goals and 10 points in the series. "… I want to be here and help the guys no matter what the situation.
"They’re my brothers and I just want to be here for them if I can."
Hawryluk combined with linemates John Quenneville (one goal, two assists) and Jesse Gabrielle (one goal, one assist) for seven points.
"They had a good series," Wheat Kings head coach/ general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "They were good in Regina, they were good here tonight.
"Certainly in Wednesday’s (5-4 Brandon win) they were the difference, so they really contributed, and it was good to have Jayce in our lineup, which of course we wouldn’t have anticipated based on what had all taken place. But that was a nice addition to our lineup tonight."
Richard Nejezchleb and Ryley Lindgren also scored for Brandon, which will advance to take on the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round of the playoffs, with dates to be announced as soon as this weekend.
The Pats had the second seed for the first round after finishing first in the East Division during the regular season, seven points ahead of the Wheat Kings, who were the seventh seed.
But Regina struggled to contain Brandon’s offence all series long and on Friday their main problem was getting pucks past Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny, who made 28 saves.
"All the boys were ready for the series, so in that regard (the sweep) doesn’t shock me, but that team over there, they’re a good team and they fought hard, and we’re fortunate we got the sweep," Papirny said.
Both goalies were sharp early. Pats netminder Daniel Wapple, who struggled with mobility in Game 3 after returning from an ankle injury, denied Chad Robinson on a short-handed breakaway, then came up with a huge pad save on Tim McGauley, who was in on a 2-on-0 rush with Rihards Bukarts.
The Wheat Kings broke through with 7:29 left in the frame as Gabrielle, who hit the crossbar early in the game, got the puck with room in front of the net and scored top-shelf on Wapple, who made 37 stops in all.
"Wapple made some great saves early in the game, and their team I think really fed off that," McCrimmon said. "But then we stuck with it and I thought really had a good first period."
Hawryluk played a role in Brandon’s second goal, although he wasn’t in on the scoring play. He drew a delayed penalty against the Pats in the final minute of the period and Nejezchleb scored as the Wheat Kings sent the extra attacker onto the ice.
The Wheat Kings maintained that advantage until the Pats scored a power-play goal with only 1.4 seconds left in the second period as Morgan Klimchuk’s centring effort from the corner hit a skate and bounced past a surprised Papirny.
Hawryluk scored early in the third period, cutting into the slot and snapping the puck past Wapple for a 3-1 lead.
The Wheat Kings then successfully killed off a Pat power play and surged to the finish line with goals by Lindgren and Quenneville late in the game, while limiting Regina to only six shots in the period.
"I think this was our most complete game of the series," Papirny said. "We were real tight defensively."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 4,705 … The Wheat Kings scratched D Kord Pankewicz, LW Tyler Coulter, LW Brett Kitt and LW Braylon Shmyr … The Pats put C/LW Sam Steel, a midget call-up who turned 16 last month, in their lineup for his second game of the series … D T.J. Brown, a Brandon bantam draft pick, helped the Red Deer Chiefs defeat the Lloydminster Bobcats and a fellow Wheat Kings prospect, D Kale Clague, for the Alberta Midget AAA title on Thursday night. Clague was third in league playoff scoring, with 13 points in 12 games.