BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Wheat King Coltyn Bates gets past Southwest Cougars’ Matthew Millan, left, during Saturday night’s Manitoba AAA Midget hockey game at the Sportsplex. Brandon posted a 7-2 victory.
There was no letting up for the streaking Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings heading into the Christmas break.
Wheat Kings’ Ty Lewis breaks in on Southwest Cougars’ Sam Houston at the Sportsplex on Saturday night. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The Wheat Kings rolled to their 18th straight win on Saturday night in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, beating the Southwest Cougars 7-2 at the Sportsplex.
Unhappy with their start in Friday’s 6-2 victory over the Yellowhead Chiefs, the league-leading Wheat Kings (27-2-0) showed off a more complete game on Saturday, running the lead to 6-0 before the Cougars responded with a pair of third-period goals.
"I thought we played really well today," said Ty Lewis, who led Brandon with two goals and two assists. "Everybody was excited to play, last game before Christmas, and I think we just wanted to have a good game before the Christmas break so we can enjoy the break and not have any regrets."
Defenceman Zach Whitecloud also scored twice for the Wheat Kings, while Jordy Stallard had a goal and an assist. Mitch Lyall and Tanner Kaspick also found the net for Brandon, while Tyler Gutenberg made 12 saves for the win.
Tyler Kirkup and Graham Hore scored for the Cougars (13-13-2), who managed only two shots in the first period.
Southwest head coach Mike Robertson said the Cougars’ younger players led the way, and the team needs more from its veterans.
"I definitely tip my hat to Brandon; they’re a good team, but when you don’t bring your A-game, you’re going to get this type of a lopsided win," said Robertson, whose team goes into the break tied for sixth place in the 12-team league. "Our good guys weren’t good, that’s the bottom line, and until they figure that out it’s going to be a long road."
The Cougars return to action on Dec. 29 when they host the Chiefs in Souris at 2 p.m. The Wheat Kings don’t play again until Jan. 4 when the second-place Winnipeg Wild visit the Sportsplex at 7:30 p.m.
While Brandon is red-hot right now, head coach Ken Schneider believes the break before that key battle with the Wild could help the Wheat Kings remain fresh and focused.
"I think the break has really come at the right time," Schneider said.
"It’s a lot more difficult than I realized to try and find ways to keep your team motivated to keep wanting to win. I mean, the kids want to win, they obviously want to win, but you get the string going like that, and then of course you guys (in the media) get a hold of it and it grows a life of its own. … They’re a tired lot and so the rest will be good."
ONE-TIMERS:Josh Diaz and Tyler Crowe combined to make 27 saves for the Cougars …The Chiefs (13-14-1) went into the break with a 6-0 loss to the Interlake Lightning on Saturday in Shoal Lake. Hayden Dola made 44 saves for the shutout, while the Chiefs got 32 stops from Brett Friesen and Luke Zacharias … A number of Wheat Kings will log some ice time over the break, with Duncan Campbell and Tanner Kaspick to be called up by the Western Hockey League’s Wheat Kings after Christmas, while James Shearer will see action with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons. Whitecloud will try out for the Manitoba team that will play in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 23, 2013