TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Switzer (7) of the Brandon Wheat Kings jousts for the puck with Sam Houston of the Southwest Cougars in front of Cougars goalie Tyson Verhelst at the Sportsplex on Friday.
With a big crowd in the stands for their home opener, the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings put on a display of stifling defence.
The Wheat Kings held the Southwest Cougars to only 10 shots on goal and skated to a 2-0 victory at the Sportsplex on Friday night.
Duncan Campbell and Braden Compton scored first-period goals — both on the power play — as the Wheat Kings moved above the .500 mark in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League at 3-2-0.
"We’re pretty happy with our guys in terms of our effort," Wheat Kings head coach Ken Schneider said. "We put a lot of pucks at their net. It gets a little frustrating when you only scored two goals and they’re only one play away from being right in the game. … One of the things we really need to continue to work at — and we’ve been working at it at practice and it hasn’t equated into success on the ice — is on the power play."
The Wheat Kings ended up with 13 power plays to the Cougars’ six and fired 44 shots on net. But after the first half of the first period, they couldn’t find a way to beat Cougars netminder Tyson Verhelst.
Campbell opened the scoring 4:04 into the game, firing a shot that caught a piece of Verhelst’s pad before trickling across the goal line.
Twice the Wheat Kings came within centimetres of extending their lead, as Campbell rang one off the cross bar about a minute-and-half after his goal, while Jordan Kaspick hit the post about 30 seconds later.
Compton finally got the insurance goal at the 9:33 mark, beating Verhelst with a shot through traffic.
"It felt good to get that one, but we would have liked to get more on the power play," Compton said. "We just wanted to stay disciplined and skate away after the whistles."
The Wheat Kings continued to rule the territorial game for most of the night. The Cougars only had five shots by the midway mark of the third period, before mounting a late charge that forced Brandon goalie Justin Holder to put in some last-minute work for his shutout, making a big pad save on Southwest’s Jordan McCausland in the dying seconds of the game.
"We couldn’t get anything going," said Verhelst, whose team fell back to the .500 mark at 3-3-1. "We had too many penalties and we just didn’t come ready."
The Wheat Kings visit the Parkland Rangers today in Dauphin, while the Cougars host the Rangers on Sunday. With a busy slate of games ahead, Schneider hopes Friday’s win gives the Wheat Kings something to build on.
"Our kids were really excited about having a home game," he said. "It’s past the middle of the month and we hadn’t played at home yet, so this win tonight was really important to try and get a foothold to get going again. We’ve got two more games yet this weekend and then three again next weekend, so we look at this as a big opportunity to try and get ourselves rolling here."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012