The Brandon Wheat Kings will try to finish a tough road trip with a winning record tonight.
The Western Hockey League club is 1-1-0-1 so far on its trip after overcoming a three-goal deficit before falling 5-4 in overtime to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday.
“We’ve played some good hockey,” Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said from Calgary, where his team faces the Hitmen tonight (7:30, CKLQ). “I thought in Red Deer we were pretty solid start to finish (in a 4-3 win). (Tuesday) night there were certainly some positives in terms of being able to come back and in Regina we weren’t as good (in an 8-4 loss). The game (tonight) is against the first-place team in the conference and it will be a real good test for our team, but a win would make this a real successful trip.”
Henrik Samuelsson scored twice in the New Year’s Eve game to give the Oil Kings (24-12-0-1) a 4-1 lead by the midway point of the second period, with Luke Bertolucci and Brandon Ralph also scoring for Edmonton, while captain Ryan Pulock replied for the Wheat Kings (20-15-4-0).
Rihards Bukarts started the Brandon comeback late in the second frame, before Peter Quenneville and 15-year-old midget call-up Tanner Kaspick got the Wheat Kings back on even ground in the third, with Kaspick’s goal at 10:04 forcing overtime in the Brandonite’s WHL debut.
“Tanner played real well,” McCrimmon said. “He was able to score a real big goal, his first which was real exciting for him, but it was also a real important goal for our team. So it was a good first game in the league for Tanner. He played regular shifts throughout the game and held his own.”
Although Edgars Kulda netted the winner 1:47 into overtime, McCrimmon was pleased his team mounted the comeback they did, playing their fourth game in five nights.
“We weren’t very good to start,” he said. “… But it was a good effort by our guys to come back and probably you’d have to look at it as a big point.”
The Wheat Kings enter tonight’s game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two ahead of the Pats and the Prince Albert Raiders. The Hitmen are 24-8-2-3, including an 11-1-1-0 mark in their past 13 games.
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon G Curtis Honey made 33 saves, while Edmonton G Tristan Jarry stopped 22 shots … The Wheat Kings were 2-for-4 on the power play, while Samuelsson scored on the Oil Kings’ lone opportunity with the man advantage, only 2:31 into the game … Brandon gets RW Jayce Hawryluk, who is tied for the team scoring lead, back tonight as he concluded his three-game suspension on Tuesday … The Wheat Kings’ other scratches Tuesday included D Colton Waltz (upper-body injury), LW Jesse Gabrielle (Team West) and LW Braylon Shmyr (Team Pacific), who are both at the World Under-17 Challenge, and a pair of midget call-ups, C Duncan Campbell and D Kale Clague … After beating Swift Current 6-3 on Wednesday, the Saskatoon Blades announced they had traded their second-leading scorer, C Nathan Burns, 20, plus a seventh-round pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft to the Broncos for RW Connor Sanvido, 20, the rights to midget LW Wyatt Sloboshan, 16, a second-round pick in 2014 and a conditional third-rounder in 2015 … Kootenay and Spokane made a deal on New Year’s Eve, with the Ice getting D Tyler King, 18, while the Chiefs received LW Hudson Elynuik, 16.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 2, 2014