The Brandon Wheat Kings trusted Curtis Honey with back-to-back starts over the weekend, and he repaid them with a pair of wins.
Honey made 19 saves on Saturday night as the Wheat Kings clipped the Regina Pats 2-1 at Westman Place to improve to 2-0 since Thursday’s Western Hockey League trade deadline.
"We were kinda going through a bit of a skid here and especially against two division rivals, it’s always nice to pick up four points there," said Honey, who got back-to-back starts for only the second time this season after making 32 stops on Friday as the Wheat Kings broke a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 road win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
"We haven’t counted ourselves out at all for this playoff run and I think we played well (against the Pats). These are the kind of games we’ve got to win, these division games."
Chad Robinson’s power-play goal and Tim McGauley’s short-handed marker allowed the Wheat Kings to vault two spots, from last place up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 16-25-2-2 record.
The Pats’ 20 shots were the fewest allowed by the Wheat Kings in any game this season and Regina could muster only four shots in the third period as Brandon protected the 2-1 lead they built in the middle frame.
"Especially heading into the third period when we had the lead, we haven’t been very good at that," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said.
"And it was good to see that we got that job done and how we got it done as well."
Robinson opened the scoring shortly after the midway point of the game, with McGauley later adding the winner short-handed. Carson Smoridny scored 38 seconds after McGauley’s goal on the same power play.
With the win, the Wheat Kings moved to within four points of the ninth-place Pats (18-24-2-2) as they try to claw back into the top eight and a playoff position.
Nick Buonassisi, who assisted on both Brandon goals, believes games like Saturday’s will help teach the Wheat Kings what they need to do to win tight battles down the stretch.
"When the games get really important, you’re going to have to win some 2-1 or 1-0 and I think that’s a good learning experience for us," said Buonassisi, who also put his body on the line defensively for the Wheat Kings, dropping to block a couple of shots, "because those kind of games, they come by at the end of the season when you’re trying to fight for a playoff spot or even in the playoffs."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Regina was 1-for-3 … Attendance was 3,445 … The Wheat Kings scratched D Ryan Pulock (wrist), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) … McGauley’s goal was his 13th of the season. The rookie became Brandon’s goal-scoring leader after LW Alessio Bertaggia was traded to the Spokane Chiefs on Thursday … Brandon’s next game is Friday at 7:30 p.m., when the Prince Albert Raiders visit, but Wheat Kings D Eric Roy will see action on Wednesday when he plays in the CHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax (6 p.m., Sportsnet).