Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny stones Pats forward Dryden Hunt Wednesday night at Westman Place. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon Wheat Kings’ weakest link this season came up with one of the biggest sequences of Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the Regina Pats at Westman Place.
A struggling Brandon penalty-killing unit, ranked 19th in the Western Hockey League going into the game, killed off a five-on-three Regina power play late in the third period, setting the stage for Jayce Hawryluk to score the winning goal with only 28 seconds left on the clock.
"Our guys battled hard on the PK to get me that chance and not let them go up a goal," said Hawryluk, whose team killed off its last three minors after the Pats scored on the first of their four opportunities. "I think our PK came up huge for us in the last few minutes of the period. That was awesome for them to do, and I give them all the credit for that. And I just happened to sneak one through in the end and, for sure, it felt good."
Hawryluk, Jesse Gabrielle, Richard Nejezchleb and Peter Quenneville each had a goal and an assist as the Wheat Kings (15-13-2-0) leapfrogged the Pats (15-13-1-0), who entered the game seventh in the Eastern Conference. Rihards Bukarts also scored for Brandon, which has gone 2-0-1-0 in its past three games.
The Pats got two goals from Chandler Stephenson plus back-to-back markers in the third period from Braden Christoffer and Griffin Mumby that had Wheat Kings fans recalling Saturday’s game when Brandon gave up a late two-goal lead in a 5-4 OT loss to Prince Albert.
"(The win is) huge. We needed that goal from Jayce at the end there to make sure that Regina didn’t get any points out of that," Quenneville said. "Unfortunately, that’s two games in a row for us, giving up a lead late, and we’ve got to fix that. I think it’s something we can learn from, but, thankfully, we got away with it tonight."
After Gabrielle opened the scoring in a wide-open first period, Stephenson tied the game with a short-handed goal.
But the Wheat Kings replied only 19 seconds later, on the same power play, with a bizarre marker. Hawryluk levelled Pats captain Kyle Burroughs, knocking him out of the game, and while Dyson Stevenson was challenging Hawryluk to a fight, Bukarts netted the go-ahead goal.
The teams traded goals in the second frame, with Stephenson netting his second of the game before Nejezchleb notched his team-leading 18th goal of the season on a power play.
Peter Quenneville stretched the lead to 4-2 in the third, completing a nice tic-tac-toe passing play as part of Brandon’s 3-for-5 night on the power play, but back-to-back goals by Christoffer and Mumby got Regina back on even ground.
The Pats had chances to go ahead with a 42-second
five-on-three advantage, but Wheat Kings goalie Jordan Papirny made the best of his 30 saves late in the second minor penalty, going post-to-post for a glove save on former Wheat King Geordie Maguire.
With the prospect of overtime looming, Gabrielle and John Quenneville cycled the puck along the boards before getting it to Hawryluk, who snapped a shot that went off the glove of Pats goalie Dawson MacAuley and in. Gabrielle was filling a role that had been held by fellow rookie Tyler Coulter in the previous two games, playing alongside Hawryluk and Quenneville, who had three assists last night.
Wheat Kings head coach/ general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he’s happy with the way the line has continued to produce and show chemistry with the youngsters on the left side.
"I think it’s a good opportunity for young guys to learn when they play with older players," said McCrimmon, whose team will host the Swift Current Broncos on Friday.
"We’ve done it with Jens (Meilleur) and (Chad Robinson); Jesse Gabrielle had some games with them, Tyler Coulter’s had some time with them. Jayce and John have real good chemistry right now, and I think that we’ve had different guys complement them pretty well."
ONE-TIMERS: John Quenneville stretched his point-scoring streak to five games (five goals, six assists) … Maguire picked up an assist for the Pats in his first regular-season game back in Brandon … G Curtis Honey (upper-body injury) missed his 14th straight game, while D Taylor Green, C Quintin Lisoway and LW Braylon Shmyr were Brandon’s other scratches … Regina scratches included LW Morgan Klimchuk (hip), who was picked by the Calgary Flames in the first round of this year’s NHL draft.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 5, 2013