COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Curtis Honey, making his third straight start, stops a shot from Prince Albert Raiders forward Anthony Bardaro in first-period Western Hockey League action on Friday night at Westman Place.
The Brandon Wheat Kings didn’t earn any points on Friday night but they did gain some confidence against a rival that’s been troublesome this season.
Specialty teams were the difference as the East Division leading Prince Albert Raiders edged the Wheat Kings 3-2 in a Western Hockey League game at Westman Place.
Outscored 14-2 in their previous three meetings with the Raiders this season, the Wheat Kings controlled the play for much of the night, but Mark McNeill scored two first-period power play goals for the visitors and Prince Albert never trailed.
"I thought five-on-five we were the better team," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, whose team went 1-for-7 with the man advantage and killed off three of the five Raiders power plays on the night.
"I thought we carried the play … and it came down to specialty teams."
Jonas Knutsen scored the winning goal, while Leon Draisaitl had three assists for the Raiders (27-15-1-3).
The Wheat Kings (16-26-2-2) fell nine points out of a playoff spot, despite two goals from Czech newcomer Marek Kalus — both assisted by Taylor Cooper.
The Wheat Kings started strongly but fell behind 2-0 on the McNeill markers. Brandon used a power play of its own to get back within a goal late in the first period.
Kalus, acquired last week from the Spokane Chiefs, got his first goal as a Wheat King —and first of the season — skating into the slot and scoring on a give-and-go play with Tim McGauley.
Kalus struck again for the lone goal in the second period, picking up a pass flipped by Cooper and finding the net behind Prince Albert netminder Luke Siemens.
The Raiders retook the lead in the third period on a bad break for Brandon as Knutsen fired a shot that deflected off of diving Wheat Kings forward Jack Palmer — who was attempting to block the shot — and bounced past goaltender Curtis Honey.
The Wheat Kings pushed down the stretch, pulling Honey to play the final minute of the third period with a 6-on-3 advantage in skaters due to two Raiders penalties, but were unable to find the tying marker.
"I think we had a chance," Cooper said. "We could have capitalized and we could have tied up the game. Even before (the late Raiders penalties), too, we could have buried a few chances."
Siemens finished the game with 33 saves, while Honey stopped 25 for Brandon.
Now 2-1 since last week’s WHL trade deadline, the Wheat Kings visit the Saskatoon Blades tonight (6:35 p.m., CKLQ).
If the Wheat Kings continue to play like they did against the Raiders last night, Kalus believes there are more wins waiting down the road for his new team.
"I think (the Raiders are) a pretty good team," he said. "But I think we can have a chance against everybody and if we keep working hard like today, I think we can beat some pretty good teams."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 3,693 … Brandon scratched D Ryan Pulock (wrist, two weeks), RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand, two weeks), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite) and C/LW John Quenneville (groin, day-to-day) … Brandon dressed RW Tyler Coulter of the Midget AAA Wheat Kings as an affiliate player … Tri-City has announced that G Eric Comrie will have hip surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 19, 2013