The minefield that is the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division has lived up to its billing so far in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ road trip.
The Wheat Kings slipped to 0-2 on their West Coast swing, falling 4-1 to the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night after being on the wrong end of a 7-1 decision to the Spokane Chiefs on Friday.
The loss dropped the Wheat Kings to the .500 mark at 7-7-0-0, while the Americans — the last-place team in the U.S. Division, which features four of the WHL’s top five teams — improved to 8-8-0-1.
With a couple of days to regroup between games, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he wants his team to refocus on burying their offensive chances when they face the 10-3-0-2 Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday (8:35 p.m., CKLQ).
"We need to build on some of the things that we’re doing well and continue to work on certain aspects of our game," McCrimmon said.
"I think that we have to capitalize on opportunities better than we have. We’ve had a lot of scoring chances in two nights to have scored two goals. I think that’s part of it and I think working to play with the lead would be real important for our team as well."
The Wheat Kings fell behind in the first period of both games, including Saturday’s contest in Kennewick, Wash., where the Americans got power-play markers from Michal Plutnar and Lucas Nickles in the opening frame.
After Jessey Astles made the score 3-0 in the second period, Taylor Cooper was sent on a breakaway by Quintin Lisoway and potted his seventh goal of the season for Brandon.
The third period started with two fruitless power plays for the Wheat Kings, before Brian Williams scored for the Americans to put the game out of reach.
The Wheat Kings ended up 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Americans were 2-for-5.
"I thought five-on-five we played pretty well throughout," McCrimmon said.
"It was a pretty even game, but the two goals in the first period were a big part of it. And then in the third, when we had a pretty good push, the fourth goal obviously was the insurance that they needed."
ONE-TIMERS: After being pulled in the third period on Friday, G Curtis Honey got the start on Saturday and made 25 saves, the same number as Tri-City G Eric Comrie … Wheat Kings C Tim McGauley, who left Friday's game in the first period with an injury, started Saturday's game, but again left in the opening frame … Brandon scratched D Kord Pankewicz, LW Jesse Gabrielle, LW Tyler Coulter and LW Brett Kitt … D Eric Roy scored the Wheat Kings’ lone goal on Friday against the Chiefs, while Spokane D Reid Gow of Killarney dished out four assists.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 28, 2013