The late-game debacles the Brandon Wheat Kings thought they had put behind them reared their ugly head again on Wednesday night in Swift Current, Sask.
The host Broncos scored twice with their goalie pulled late in the third period, then got a penalty-shot goal from Graham Black in overtime to beat Brandon 4-3, snatching sole possession of first place in the Western Hockey League’s East Division away from the Wheat Kings.
Nathan Burns, who scored with 2:14 to go, and Coda Gordon, who tied the game with 25 seconds left to force overtime, both had a goal and two assists for the Broncos (25-18-1-5).
The Wheat Kings (25-17-5-0) have lost five games this season after having a lead with less than four minutes to go, and they’ve lost in overtime after giving up the tying goal with less than 30 seconds to play three times.
Head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings needed to win more faceoffs late in the game, but after getting third-period goals from Tim McGauley and Rihards Bukarts for a 3-1 lead, he felt his team was playing the way they wanted.
"There was nothing that happened in the third period to make you think that you were going to have trouble holding the lead late," he said. "We had played a real solid third period, we hadn’t given a lot up and just weren’t able to make plays when we needed to with their goaltender out."
In overtime, the Broncos built on their strong finish to the third with Black being hooked by Colton Waltz after getting behind the Brandon defence, setting the stage for his shootout goal 1:43 into the extra frame.
Black had a goal and an assist for the Broncos, while Jake DeBrusk also scored.
Chad Robinson replied with a goal and an assist for the Wheat Kings, who played without their top defenceman, with captain Ryan Pulock sick, while leading scorer John Quenneville left the game after being injured in the first period.
Despite the disappointment, McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings now have to focus on their Saturday home game versus the Prince George Cougars.
"We’ve won lots of hockey games here in the last couple of months and it’s a setback tonight, but it is a point for our team," he said. "We’ll take the point and get ready for Saturday’s game against Prince George."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon G Curtis Honey made 39 saves, while Swift Current G Eetu Laurikainen stopped 32 shots … The Wheat Kings were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off both Bronco chances … Brandon also scratched LW Brett Kitt and LW Braylon Shmyr.