The Brandon Wheat Kings built up some momentum for this week’s tough road trip by downing the Prince George Cougars 6-3 in the Western Hockey League on Saturday night at Westman Place.
The Wheat Kings were far from perfect, watching an early 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit in the second period, but by the end of the night they’d moved to within a point of the East Division-leading Swift Current Broncos, having earned nine of a possible 10 points in their last five games.
"These are games we have to win," said Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock, who scored the winning goal midway through the third period and added an assist. "At home before going out on a trip we’ve got to start building some momentum here to lead into our games on the road, and I think we can take a lot from this game, to be more ready and have a better first half. But overall it was a good win."
While the Wheat Kings (26-17-5-0) have three games in hand on the Broncos, they’ll burn two of those on this four-game trip, which includes games against the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen, who have the top two records in the Eastern Conference, as well as the surging Red Deer Rebels.
"This is going to be a tough trip, but I think we’re gelling pretty well and we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey," Wheat Kings forward Quintin Lisoway said.
Saturday’s game was a mix of good and bad. After Lisoway and Peter Quenneville scored early goals, the Cougars (18-26-2-5) were lifted by the line of Todd Fiddler (one goal, two assists), former Wheat King Klarc Wilson (one goal, one assist) and rookie Jansen Harkins (one goal, one assist), who notched the next three markers, including first-period tallies 47 seconds apart from Fiddler and Wilson.
Eric Roy scored on a power play late in the second frame for Brandon. That gave them a boost going into what would prove to be a three-goal third period, which started with Pulock’s winner on a blast from the point, followed by Ryan Pilon’s power-play insurance marker and an empty netter from Quenneville.
"With the tie game at the intermission we talked about making the third period our best period and tonight it was our best period by a wide margin," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said.
McCrimmon and Lisoway both gave the Cougars credit for the way they bounced back after an 8-0 loss to the Regina Pats a night earlier.
"We came out a little soft I think, didn’t expect our opponent to come out that strong, and you know we should have because they had a tough loss the other night," Lisoway said. "I thought Prince George played well, and lately our third periods have been going pretty good, so I think we took advantage of that again."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 3,814 … The Wheat Kings were 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Cougars were 0-for-3 … Edmonds and Brandon G Curtis Honey both made 25 saves … Pulock and Wheat Kings C Tim McGauley, who assisted on two goals, are both on five-game point-scoring streaks. Pulock's return on Saturday was a gametime decision after he missed Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Broncos due to illness … Brandon scratched its leading scorer, C John Quenneville (lower-body injury) as well as LW Brett Kitt and D Kord Pankewicz … Prince George played without three of its top eight scorers in C Zach Pochiro, LW Chase Witala and C Alex Forsberg … The Wheat Kings start their trip with a Tuesday matinee (noon, CKLQ) in Edmonton, which will feature a large crowd of school kids for the Oil Kings’ annual ‘hockey hooky’ game.