Brandon Wheat Kings forward Jesse Gabrielle and Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Jesse Forsberg race for the puck during Western Hockey League action at Westman Place on Saturday night. The Wheat Kings won 7-4. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Ryan Pulock was the Brandon Wheat Kings’ milestone man on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old captain tied the Wheat Kings’ all-time goal-scoring mark for a defenceman and reached 200 career points as Brandon broke out of its eight-game losing streak with a wild 7-4 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors at Westman Place.
Pulock scored a goal — the 61st of his career — and added two assists as the Wheat Kings (29-26-6-2) moved four points up on the Prince Albert Raiders and Red Deer Rebels for seventh place in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
The Grandview native now shares the goal-scoring record with Brad McCrimmon. Considered by many to be the greatest defenceman in Wheat Kings history, McCrimmon died in a 2011 plane crash and Pulock said to share the mark with him is an honour.
"No matter who I was sharing it with it would be pretty special to me, but with Brad having it, I think it adds that much more to it," he said.
Pulock’s goal — his career-high 20th of the season — came on one of his trademark wicked slap shots during a five-on-three power play. Wheat King head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon —Brad’s brother — said it was a fitting way for a fitting player to match the record.
"Brad’s time in Brandon was in the late ’70s. He graduated in 1979, so that’s a record that has stood up for many, many years through a lot of great defenceman," McCrimmon said, "And for Ryan to be able to pull into a tie with Brad — obviously we expect he’s on his way to breaking that record — that’s a real good testament to the type of four-year career that he’s had in our organization."
Pulock wasn’t the only Wheat King to have a memorable night. Tim McGauley notched his first WHL hat trick — scoring three times in Brandon’s five-goal second period — while the rest of Brandon’s markers came from rookies — two by Jesse Gabrielle and the other by Brett Kitt. McGauley’s final goal gave the Wheat Kings a 7-1 lead midway through the second period, accomplishing the rare feat of completing a hat trick with the "breakfast goal," which treats fans to a free breakfast every time the Wheat Kings reach seven goals in a home game.
"I’m glad I could make the fans happy," McGauley chuckled.
The only blemish for Brandon was Moose Jaw’s surge in the second half of the game. After the Warriors (15-37-3-6) killed the last of a series of undisciplined penalties that allowed the Wheat Kings to pad their lead, Tanner Eberle and Josh Uhrich scored 39 seconds apart for the visitors late in the second frame. Although the Wheat Kings regained their focus in the third, the Warriors — who also got a first-period marker from Brayden Point — added a Colton McCarthy goal late in the contest.
"Once we get that lead, we’ve got to keep working hard," said Jayce Hawryluk, who had two assists for Brandon. "We can’t lay off the gas or they’re going to come back. There’s still half a game to go. We can learn from that tonight."
ONE-TIMERS: Pulock is the fifth Brandon blue-liner to reach 200 career points, joining Brad McCrimmon, Cam Plante, Justin Kurtz and Burke Henry … The Wheat Kings went 8-0 this season against the Warriors, who were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss … Brandon G Jordan Papirny made 41 saves … Moose Jaw G Justin Paulic allowed seven goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Zach Sawchenko, who stopped all 20 shots he faced … The Wheat Kings were 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Warriors were 0-for-2 … Attendance was 3,421 … D Colton Waltz completed his three-game suspension and will be eligible to return Wednesday when Brandon hosts the Lethbridge Hurricanes … The Wheat Kings’ other scratches were LW Richard Nejezchleb (upper-body injury), RW Peter Quenneville (lower body) and D Rene Hunter (upper body).
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 24, 2014