So far, so good for the new-look Brandon Wheat Kings.
Nick Buonassisi assisted on both Brandon goals as the Wheat Kings defeated the Regina Pats 2-1 Saturday at Westman Place to improve to 2-0 since Thursday's Western Hockey League trade deadline.
"It's definitely tough to see guys like (Alessio) Bertaggia and (Mike) Ferland go because those are elite players in the league and obviously the really high-ranked teams right now are going to want them and they did; they picked them up," Buonassisi said. "But that's one thing in our dressing room, we've got a lot of character and for us to win two straight games after that without those guys, it's a good feeling and I think we're going to get on a roll here and push for a playoff spot for sure."
Chad Robinson scored on a power play and Tim McGauley added a short-handed marker as the Wheat Kings (16-25-2-2) jumped past two teams into 10th place in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the ninth-place Pats (18-24-2-2). Curtis Honey won his second start in as many nights, stopping 19 shots — two less than Pats goalie Matt Hewitt.
"Give our guys credit. All four lines contributed tonight, our six 'D' played well defensively (and) Curtis Honey slowed the game down for us; he was able to calm things," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "I just think it was a good team effort. We've still got a lot of work to do, but it's something that we can build off. It's a step in the right direction."
All of the scoring came in the second period. Robinson picked up a Jayce Hawryluk drop pass and snapped a shot past Hewitt just after the midway point of the game.
With his team killing a penalty, McGauley followed that up by netting the eventual winner, converting a Buonassisi setup on a 2-on-1 rush.
"When I looked up I saw Buono and I just gave it to him and he made a beautiful pass to me and it was just an easy tap-in," said McGauley, who has found the net 13 times this season, becoming the team's leading goal-scorer after Bertaggia was traded to the Spokane Chiefs. "It was all Buonassisi on that play. I've got to give him credit."
Carson Samoridny, acquired by the Pats on Thursday, scored for Regina on a scramble in front of the net during the very same power play, but the Wheat Kings shut the door after that, limiting their opponents to only four shots in the third period.
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Regina was 1-for-3 … Attendance was 3,445 … The Wheat Kings scratched D Ryan Pulock (wrist), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) … Brandon's next game is Friday at 7:30 p.m., when the Prince Albert Raiders visit, but Wheat Kings D Eric Roy will see action on Wednesday when he plays in the CHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax (6 p.m., Sportsnet).