Nick Buonassisi has scored nicer goals in his Western Hockey League career, but what his third-period marker lacked in beauty, it made up for in timeliness.
Buonassisi scored the go-ahead goal with 4:50 to play as the Brandon Wheat Kings battled from behind to beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 3-2 Friday night at Westman Place.
Trailing 2-1 in the third period, Brandon tied the game on a goal by Jayce Hawryluk setting the stage for Buonassisi, who fired a shot that hit Moose Jaw goalie Justin Paulic and trickled up and over him and into the net.
"It was a little greasy," Buonassisi admitted. "I just shot as hard as I could. It hit the goalie in the head, bounced over and went in. I’ll take it.
"It was just kind of the theme of the game. It was kind of a battle, lots of fights, lots of big hits and some greasy goals."
Hawryluk also had an assist, while Tim McGauley rounded out the Brandon scoring. Goaltender Corbin Boes was sharp as well, making 40 saves as the Wheat Kings improved to 8-6-2-1, playing their first home game in three weeks in front of a crowd of 3,821.
"Corbin was very good for us," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, whose team was outshot 42-30. "He made some big saves on the penalty kill for us at times and when we were having trouble getting our feet underneath us he made some big saves. And then at the end, when we need him, he made the big save for us."
Justin Kirsch and Jordan Messier replied for the Warriors (7-7-2-1).
The Wheat Kings started well and were outshooting the Warriors 7-3 early in the first period when Geordie Maguire was called for a high-sticking double minor. That was followed shortly afterward by a Buonassisi tripping penalty and Moose Jaw cashed in on the five-on-three power play as Kirsch wired a one-timer from the high slot past Boes.
The intermission seemed to do the Wheat Kings some good as they got back on their game to start the second period and evened the score on a power play as Hawryluk managed to get control of an Alessio Bertaggia pass that hit him in the knees and bounced high, getting a shot away before McGauley picked up the puck and scored off the rebound.
Specialty teams continued to be key in the third period as the Warriors capitalized on another power play, with Messier tipping in Travis Brown’s point shot.
Hawryluk was the first player to score an even-strength goal, fighting off a Warriors defenceman one-on-one and wristing the puck past Paulic.
It wasn’t until Buonassisi’s goal that the Wheat Kings got their first lead and, backstopped by Boes, they managed to make it stick.
After playing seven games during their West Coast road trip, Friday’s game was the first of five straight at home for Brandon. The next one comes tonight against the Calgary Hitmen, and Hawryluk said last night’s game will give the team plenty of momentum to roll into the rest of the homestand.
"It feels great," he said. "Especially after a couple of losses on the road, coming into our home barn to get that win is a huge step going into that five-game homestand."
ONE-TIMERS: After scoring in the first period, Kirsch left the game in the second with an injury … RW Riley Lindgren, who shared the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League scoring lead with the Winnipeg Thrashers entering Friday, was called up by Brandon and got an assist. Lindgren played an MJHL game for Selkirk on Thursday in Virden … Brandon D Tyler Yaworski finished serving his three-game suspension, while RW Jason Swyripa (wrist, week-to-week), LW Richard Nejezchleb (shoulder, one week), C John Quenneville (illness) and D Rene Hunter (lower body, day-to-day) were also scratched … Moose Jaw scratches included their captain, D Kendall McFaull (sick) and veteran D Reid Jackson (upper body). … Brandon has announced a ‘2 for Tuesday’ promotion for Tuesday’s home game against Seattle, with fans getting a free ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket, plus discounted concession prices ... Saskatoon has acquired LW Nathan Burns, 19, from Vancouver for C Travis McEvoy, 18, a 2014 first-round pick and a 2013 third-rounder.