The Brandon Wheat Kings picked up right where they left off with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Two days after a late Brandon rally fell just short at Westman Place, the Wheat Kings exploded for three goals in the first nine minutes of Sunday’s Western Hockey League pre-season game in Moose Jaw, Sask., and they hung on to beat the host Warriors 6-4.
“We had a good start to the game,” Brandon head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “We finished strong on Friday and we were able to get an early lead, which I thought helped us get our feet underneath us.”
Rookie left wing Jesse Gabrielle got things going early by setting up Braylon Shmyr’s and Kord Pankewicz’s markers to open the scoring. Kale Clague, who was taken sixth overall in this year’s WHL bantam draft, added a power-play goal just nine seconds into the Wheat Kings’ first man-advantage of the game to make it 3-0.
Chad Robinson and Taylor Cooper made it 5-1 with goals in the second period. Moose Jaw, however, closed the gap to one midway through the third before Jack Palmer added an empty-netter to secure the win.
McCrimmon left the game quite happy with his troops. Even though they let the Warriors back into the game, he was glad to see the Wheat Kings play so well while holding on to a one-goal lead and that he got a chance to see his players in various situations during the game.
“What we wanted out of the weekend was an opportunity to evaluate our players,” he said. “We got the chance to do that because the guys got to play in a lot of different situations and that was important. At the same time you’re trying to incorporate improving your team game because you’re getting ready to play regular season games in the not to distant future. I thought it was productive from both standpoints.”
Curtis Honey made 31 saves in the Brandon net. Zachary Sawchenko stopped eight of the 11 shots he faced before giving way to Daniel Wapple, who made seven saves on nine shots, for Moose Jaw. Todd Fiddler recorded a hat trick for the Warriors, with Sam Fioretti supplying the other goal.
The Wheat Kings now return home, where McCrimmon will re-evaluate the roster this week before wrapping up the pre-season with a home-and-home matchup against the Regina Pats, starting Friday night at Westman Place at 7:30.
ICINGS: Wheat Kings D Ryan Pulock (New York Islanders), D Eric Roy (Calgary Flames), D Nick Walters (St. Louis Blues) and RW Richard Nejezchleb (Pittsburgh Penguins) are away at NHL camps … Brandon’s scratches included D Dominic Thom, D Riley Van Horne, RW Jordan Bochinski, C Duncan Campbell, C Jayce Hawryluk, C Tanner Kaspick, LW Brett Kitt, C Tim McGauley and RW Jens Meilleur.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 9, 2013