Taylor Cooper of the Brandon Wheat Kings, left, fires a shot on
Vancouver Giants goalie Payton Lee during Western Hockey League action at Westman Place on Friday evening. The Wheat Kings won 4-3.
(TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon’s Jayce Hawryluk battles for the puck with Vancouver’s Shaun Dosanjh Friday night at Westman Place. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon Wheat Kings are powering up on home ice.
The Wheat Kings got two goals on the power play, and another just as a Vancouver penalty expired, on their way to a 4-3 Western Hockey League victory over the Giants Friday night at Westman Place.
Brandon now has six power-play goals in the first two games of a five-game homestand and head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings’ play with the man advantage has been a key to those wins.
"(The Giants) had only given up one (power-play) goal so far this season so for us to score twice, and really effectively three times because the second goal of the game was scored just as the penalty expired, I thought was important and a big part of our victory," said McCrimmon, whose team is clicking at a 25 per cent success rate on the power play this season.
"When you look at our last two games, it’s been pretty instrumental in terms of our offence."
John Quenneville scored both power-play goals for the Wheat Kings (4-2-0-0) on Friday, while Richard Nejezchleb potted Brandon’s first two goals, helping the team recover from a sluggish first period. Ryan Pulock and Rihards Bukarts each had two assists.
Dalton Thrower had a goal and an assist, while Jackson Houck and Anthony Ast also scored for the Giants (1-4-0-0) on the first stop of their six-game East Division road trip.
The Wheat Kings failed to create much offence in a tight-checking first period and found themselves outshot 12-6 and trailing 1-0 as Houck deflected in Thrower’s point shot.
Nejezchleb jump-started Brandon’s three-goal second period, scoring two minutes into the frame off the rush on a setup from Bukarts.
"It was our first shift in the second period, so it was a wakeup for us," Nejezchleb said. "And we just got another one and I think we finished up pretty good."
Nejezchleb gave Brandon its first lead midway through the second while covering the point for rushing defenceman Kord Pankewicz, and Quenneville added his first of the night to make the score 3-1.
Thrower and Quenneville traded goals in the third period as Brandon ran its record on home ice to 3-0 this season in front of a crowd of 3,205.
"We’ve been a team over the years that’s always had good home-ice records," McCrimmon said. "The last two years not as much, and that’s one of our goals this year is to be a good team on home ice and be excited about playing here and really use it to our advantage."
In addition to their work on the power play, McCrimmon gave his team credit for playing a strong physical game.
"We had some guys that I thought stepped up physically, not just the guys that fought," he said. "Taylor Green fought a real tough guy from their team (Mason Geertsen) and Rene Hunter I thought was a warrior all night, not just the two fights that he got in, but he was physical.
"I think it becomes contagious and you need everybody contributing to that part of the game. and I think when your whole team is committed that way it adds a lot more effect."
Making his first home start of the season, rookie goalie Jordan Papirny made 27 saves for the Wheat Kings, while Payton Lee of the Giants stopped 20 shots.
With three games remaining on their homestand, Quenneville said the Wheat Kings have some things to clean up in their game, but he’s confident they’ll be able to do that.
"We obviously didn’t have the start we wanted to have," the second-year forward said. "We talked about having a good start again and again and we didn’t do that once again, but you know what, we found a way to win and it’s just a great feeling."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon D Eric Roy (upper body, day-to-day) missed the game, ending his streak of 110 consecutive regular-season and playoff games played … The Wheat Kings also scratched D Dominic Thom, LW Tyler Coulter, LW Brett Kitt and RW Braylon Shmyr … Vancouver’s new captain, D Dalton Thrower, made his debut with the Giants after being returned by the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs this week … Vancouver had five players out with injuries, including C Dalton Sward … The Wheat Kings reach the middle of their five-game homestand tonight against the Red Deer Rebels.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 5, 2013