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Cooper burns Wheat Kings

Cooper: OT winner

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Cooper: OT winner (FILE PHOTO)

The Brandon Wheat Kings saw how dangerous Taylor Cooper can be on a breakaway early this season when he was a teammate.

On Wednesday, they got an unwelcome reminder.

Cooper, now a Lethbridge Hurricane, scored a breakaway goal only 20 seconds into overtime as his team shocked the visiting Wheat Kings 3-2.

"He had had a quiet night to that point, but he’s sure capable of making that play," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "We pressed on offence early on and that’s sometimes how four-on-four goes: the best chances teams have are after they’ve had chances against, and that was the case.

"We had an early look and they took the rebound and sent it up the ice."

The Wheat Kings (28-22-6-1), who went winless on their three-game road trip, needed a Quintin Lisoway goal late in the third period to force overtime and salvage a single point as they fell into a tie for sixth place in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference with the Regina Pats. Richard Nejezchleb also scored for Brandon, which returns home to host the Kootenay Ice on Friday and Saturday.

The Hurricanes, the last-place team in the conference at 12-41-2-3, got a goal and two assists from Brady Ramsay. Cooper, who was traded to Lethbridge in November, and Riley Sheen each had a goal and an assist.

The Hurricanes, who fell behind 1-0 on Nejezchleb’s first-period power-play marker, did all of their damage in the final nine minutes of the game, with Sheen and Ramsay scoring 3:03 apart to put Lethbridge ahead. Lisoway capitalized on a neutral-zone turnover to tie the game 2-2, but that was the last time the Wheat Kings would beat Hurricanes goalie Teagan Sacher, who had 25 saves, two more than Brandon’s Jordan Papirny.

"Our best chances tonight, we missed the net," said McCrimmon, whose team scored only three times on the trip. "We had a couple of looks, particularly in the second, where we had empty nets and weren’t able to capitalize. That’s going to happen, and we just have to work our way through it."

ONE-TIMERS: Brandon was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Lethbridge was 0-for-1 … Wheat Kings C John Quenneville left the game early … Nejezchleb’s 29th goal set a new mark for a Brandon import in the WHL … The game marked the first time that Cooper, Hurricanes D Nick Walters and Wheat Kings D Ryan Pilon faced their former teams since they traded places … Brandon scratched LW Rihards Bukarts (upper body, day-to-day), LW Jesse Gabrielle and LW Brett Kitt.


Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 13, 2014

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