While the Brandon Wheat Kings didn’t get any closer to the top of the East Division standings on the weekend, they hope the resilience they showed will get them there eventually.
Vexed by bad luck and a bad second period in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Prince Albert, the Wheat Kings bounced back Saturday to beat the Raiders 5-2 in the rematch at Westman Place. Saturday’s victory didn’t come gift-wrapped for the Wheat Kings either as they entered the third period tied 2-2 despite dominating the first frame and matching the Raiders’ output in the second.
"The last game (on Friday) we didn’t get any bounces there and I think one thing we’ve focused on is we were relentless," said Wheat Kings goalie Jordan Papirny, who stopped 23 shots Saturday. "We kept going."
John Quenneville scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to put Brandon up 3-2 and kick off an outburst of three goals in a span of 3:19. Jesse Gabrielle had a goal and an assist, while Eric Roy and Rihards Bukarts also scored as the Wheat Kings (23-17-4-0) remained sixth in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, but moved to within two points of the first-place Swift Current Broncos in the East Division.
"The race is so tight. We’re chasing teams and we’ve got teams chasing us, and we know every game’s a must-win," said Quenneville, who also had an assist for a three-point night.
"… We had a tough night (Friday) night. The puck wasn’t going in for us; we’re an offensive team, that doesn’t usually happen. But I think it was going great for us tonight."
The Raiders (22-19-2-0) held 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period on goals by Josh Morrissey and Brandonite Carson Perreaux, but Roy scored late in the middle frame to tie the score going into the third. Brandon controlled the final frame, firing 17 shots at Raiders goalie Cole Cheveldave, and Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon believes that was partly due to the Wheat Kings’ efforts earlier in the game.
"We were real strong in the first, outshot them 15-4, didn’t score but I think we did lay some groundwork that helped us in the third period," said McCrimmon, whose team hosts the Broncos on Friday to wrap up a five-game home stand. "… Probably the first five minutes in the second I thought we lost our focus a bit, but for the most part it was a pretty complete effort from start to finish."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon D Taylor Green had two assists for the first multi-point game of his career … Cheveldave stopped 37 shots … Quenneville has scored five times on a three-game goal streak. His Friday game was upgraded to a two-goal performance as he was later awarded the late-game goal that was originally credited to D Ryan Pulock … Six of Perreaux’s 14 goals this season have come against Brandon … Attendance was 3,409 … The Wheat Kings scratched D Kord Pankewicz, LW Brett Kitt and LW Braylon Shmyr … Brandon is 3-1 on its five-game home stand.