Friday night’s double overtime win was just what the doctor ordered for the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings.
Duncan Campbell’s goal, 1:50 into the second extra frame, gave the Wheat Kings a 4-3 road win over the Kenora Thistles and a three-game sweep in their best-of-five Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League quarter-final. To be pushed by the Thistles yet still be able to get an extra couple of days rest before their semifinal against the Winnipeg Thrashers begins was an ideal situation for the Wheat Kings.
“I think the adversity that we had to face was really good for the team,” Wheat Kings head coach Ken Schneider said. “It kind of helps you bind the team together and you really do feel like you’re in a playoff type environment. And to go to double overtime and to close it out in the opponent’s rink, it just helps to give our guys more motivation and confidence.”
The sweep also had some practical benefits for the Wheat Kings as Brandon Switzer, who leads the team in playoff scoring, and Jordan Kaspick were both injured Friday and likely wouldn’t have been able to play on Saturday. Schneider hopes to get Switzer back when the Wheat Kings visit the Thrashers on Wednesday, while Kaspick is not likely to be ready for the series opener.
The Wheat Kings will take any help they can get against the Thrashers, who swept the Southwest Cougars in the quarter-finals. The Thrashers won all four games against Brandon during the regular season, although two were decided by a single goal, with one going to a shootout.
“We haven’t had a lot of success against them this winter, although I think there was opportunities that we kind of squandered,” said Schneider, whose team will host Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Friday at 7:30 p.m., at the Sportsplex, as well as a potential Game 4 on Wednesday, March 13. “One of the things that we’re going to really need to be good at is staying out of the penalty box. I think specialty teams could be a factor in the outcome of the series.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 4, 2013