TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Robert Hechler (3) of the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings fires a shot on net during Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League action against the Central Plains Capitals at the Sportsplex on Sunday.
The Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings believe Sunday’s 7-2 win over the Central Plains Capitals at the Sportsplex is a sign of good things to come.
Not only did the team get out of a funk while tied in the third period, they also capped their weekend that consisted of three games in three days with three victories. Improving to 5-2-0 on the season, which is good enough for second place in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League’s West Division, was what the team focused on going into the weekend, and head coach Ken Schneider was proud of his team for reaching its goal.
"It was really big for us," said Schneider, whose squad beat the visiting Southwest Cougars 2-0 on Friday and the host Parkland Rangers 9-0 on Saturday. "We really worked hard this past week in practice that we had to be focused. It’s not easy to play three games in three nights and with the middle game on the road and getting back off the road late at night and having to play in the afternoon."
The key to Brandon’s victory was third-year forward Brandon Switzer.
The Capitals came out firing in the third period and kept most of the play in the Wheat Kings zone with the game tied 2-2. However, Switzer changed the game’s momentum when he moved the puck up the middle midway through the final frame and helped set up Brett Kitt’s goal that gave Brandon a 3-2 lead.
That opened the flood gates as the Wheat Kings exploded for four more goals before the final buzzer sounded.
While the 16-year-old downplayed how important Brandon’s third goal of the game was, he pointed to the third period as a possible turning point in the team’s season.
"It’s good to see us come back and score five goals in the third when you need it," said Switzer, who finished the game with two goals and two assists. "It’s definitely a turning point in our season. It helps because down the line we’re going to have the leadership and the sense of knowing we can do that and come back from games like that. It’s going to help later on in the playoffs and later on when we need the points."
Jaxon Elmes, Coltyn Bates, Josh Kobelka, Kitt and Tyler Coulter also scored from Brandon. Coulter also had three assists, while Tanner Kaspick recorded four. Justin Holder made 18 saves in the Brandon net.
Robert Smith and Stephen MacKenzie replied for the Capitals (2-5-0).
Switzer said that Sunday’s victory gave the players a great feeling in the locker room, and not because of the late offensive explosion or for a successful weekend. Instead, it was the feeling of accomplishment shared by a group of close friends. He believes the team’s closeness may be Brandon’s biggest strength this year.
"It feels like my first year again when it was a family setting and it feels good to go out there and trust the guys you’re playing with and just go have fun," he said.
"After winning that game, it just felt great because you’re with your friends and I think that’s just key to our season is being a family."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 22, 2012