BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Wheat King’ Rihards Bukarts fires a shot at the Raiders’ net at Westman Place on Saturday night.
Less than 30 seconds of hockey turned what could have been a great weekend for the Brandon Wheat Kings into a good one.
The Wheat Kings were on the verge of beating Prince Albert Saturday at Westman Place, but the Raiders netted the tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation time, then scored 18 seconds into overtime to leave Brandon with a 5-4 victory.
"It’s disappointing to lose that way," said Wheat King centre Chad Robinson, whose team led 4-2 with seven minutes left to play. "I think we played a pretty solid game, and to have it slip away on us in the last period, it’s disappointing. I think we need to get better at holding a lead in the third period."
Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Raiders (17-9-2-0), who are one point behind the first-place Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League’s East Division. He also set up Chance Braid for the tying goal, then assisted on defenceman Sawyer Lange’s OT winner.
With an 8-4 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday, the Wheat Kings (14-13-2-0) took three of a possible four points, to sit fourth in the East Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Having come back from a two-goal first-period deficit against the Raiders, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon believes his team played well enough to be 2-0 on the weekend.
"I think our team played real well and made a couple errors in the last six minutes of the third period, which sent us to overtime," he said. "We were 11 seconds away from winning the game in regulation, and we didn’t win that shift."
Draisaitl and defenceman Josh Morrissey scored in the first 10:45 of the game for the Raiders, with John Quenneville responding for Brandon later in the first. A Tim McGauley power-play marker tied the game in the second period, before Rihards Bukarts put the Wheat Kings ahead.
Robinson scored on a short-handed breakaway in the third period to put Brandon up 4-2, but a turnover in the Wheat Kings’ zone led to Draisaitl’s second of the night and started the Raiders’ rally.
With goalie Cole Cheveldave pulled for an extra skater, Draisaitl’s pass from the corner found Braid at the side of the Brandon net for the tying goal. In OT, the German centre rushed from his own end and dropped a pass to Lange, who snapped a shot past Wheat King netminder Jordan Papirny.
Despite being happy with their play, the Wheat Kings had a bitter taste in their mouths after the game, and Jayce Hawryluk said that might not be a bad thing.
"This felt like a playoff game," said Hawryluk, who had two assists. "(The Raiders are) going to be a team that’s going to make it to playoffs, and we’re going to be battling against them this whole way. I think it was a good test tonight ... It’s good for it to bother us because it just makes us that much hungrier for the next time we play them and the game on Wednesday (when the Regina Pats visit Westman Place)."
ONE-TIMERS: The game was the first in Brandon for Raiders head coach Cory Clouston since he was fired by the Wheat Kings following the 2011-12 season … McGauley scored on Brandon's only power-play opportunity, with Robinson's short-handed tally coming on P.A.’s only man advantage … Papirny stopped 31 shots, while Cheveldave made 35 saves … Brandon's top defensive pairing of Pulock and Eric Roy were -4 and -5, respectively … The Wheat Kings’ scratches were G Curtis Honey (upper body), C Ryley Lindgren (upper body), LW Brett Kitt and D Kord Pankewicz … A scoring change from Friday’s game has resulted in Quenneville being credited with Brandon’s fourth goal against Moose Jaw, rather than an assist, giving the 17-year-old his first WHL hat trick … Two Warriors were suspended for incidents in Friday’s game. LW Tanner Eberle was given two games for a checking-to-the-head major, while RW Josh Uhrich was banned one game for kicking Wheat King LW Jesse Gabrielle's feet out from under him during a fight.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 30, 2013