Penalties got the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings into trouble and one major penalty got them right back out of it again.
The Wheat Kings scored five times on a third-period major penalty to Eastman, coming from behind to beat the Selects 6-3 Friday at the Sportsplex to open their Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League semifinal series.
"That was probably one of the more exciting games of my life," said Ty Lewis, who scored the first three Brandon goals and added an assist.
Tanner Kaspick, who like Lewis is a draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Wheat Kings, dished out five assists, while Coltyn Bates, Jordy Stallard and Bradley Schoonbaert also scored for Brandon.
The Wheat Kings, who finished first in the regular-season standings, 25 points ahead of the Selects, appeared ripe for the picking, trailing Eastman 3-1 going into the third period.
Lewis opened the scoring on the power play, but Cody Plett netted a short-handed marker for the Selects to tie the game. Tyler Anderson and Kirk Lycar, another Wheat King WHL prospect, added power-play markers in the second frame for Eastman.
"I can’t believe it but there was nine goals scored and they were all on the specialty teams, so obviously that was a big part of what happened tonight in the game," said Wheat Kings head coach Ken Schneider, whose team went 6-for-9 with the man advantage while the Selects were 2-for-6. "I thought for the most part we played a pretty good first period, but we gave up the goal on our power play, and that really kind of got us going in the wrong direction and it gave them a little bit of momentum. And then they carried that into the second period and a couple power plays and a five-on-three (power play) on their part and the next thing you know, we’re down two."
Forced to kill off two more penalties early in the third and unable to find any holes in Selects goalie Mario Petit, who made 47 saves, the Wheat Kings were in jeopardy of suffering the upset, but then the game turned on a dime.
Eastman defenceman Riley Thomsen was given a major and a game misconduct for slew-footing league scoring champion Duncan Campbell, and Lewis scored to start the comeback before tying the game with the Selects down two men due to a slashing penalty to blue-liner Thomas Lenchyshyn. The floodgates were open and Bates scored the winner, with Stallard and Schoonbaert following up to put the game out of reach.
"You never think it’s going to turn that quickly," Schneider said. "But we just executed really well and when they took the second penalty to make it a five-on-three, well that really opened up a lot of ice for us and we made some good plays."
Game 2 of the best-of-five series will be played in Beausejour on Sunday at 2 p.m, and Lewis said the Wheat Kings saw enough from the Selects on Friday to know they’re in for a battle.
"It takes a little pressure off going in the second game, but we have to keep working hard," he said. "… You know they’re going to be good at home because it’s their home crowd, home rink, so we’re going to have to fight for that second game and second win in the series."
ONE-TIMERS: Campbell did not play again, but remained on the bench and was on the ice after the game to celebrate with his teammates … Wheat Kings G Tyler Gutenberg made 26 saves … D James Shearer and D Zach Whitecloud had two assists each for Brandon …In Friday’s other game, Ezrah Hall scored three times and Wheat King WHL prospect Dylan Thiessen added one as the Winnipeg Wild beat the Winnipeg Thrashers 5-2 to open their semifinal.