The Brandon Wheat Kings had no trouble getting up for their early game with the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday, controlling the first period against the top team in their conference.
The second period, however, was another matter.
The Oil Kings, the first-place team in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, scored three times in the middle frame on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Wheat Kings.
Brett Pollock scored twice for the Oil Kings, who drew a crowd of more than 11,000 fans — most of them school kids — for their annual Hockey Hooky game, which started at 11:30 a.m. in Edmonton.
Despite the unusually early puck drop, Brandon head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings were doing exactly what they wanted to until they gave up goals 40 seconds apart midway through the second period.
"We scored, we played with the lead and really the first half of the game I thought we played well," said McCrimmon, whose team opened the scoring on a Jayce Hawryluk power-play goal and outshot Edmonton 14-7 in the first period. "We (allowed) the power-play goal and then gave up a goal the next shift, which I thought put us on our heels for the second half of the second period and then really needed to get to the intermission down a goal, and gave up the late goal to make it 3-1, which hurt us."
Pollock and Riley Kieser, who scored on a rush after the Wheat Kings turned the puck over trying to carry it into the Oil Kings’ zone, provided the rapid-fire goals to give Edmonton its first lead of the game. Mitch Moroz finished off the strong second frame for the Oil Kings (35-13-0-1) by scoring with only 46 seconds left before the intermission.
Pollock scored again early in the third, and although Peter Quenneville responded quickly for the Wheat Kings (26-18-5-0), the damage had already been done by the sluggish second period.
"We were right there the rest of the night," McCrimmon said. "… It was a pretty good effort in a lot of respects and yet you can’t have the lapse that we did in the second against a first-place team. That was the difference in the hockey game."
Curtis Honey made 25 saves for the Wheat Kings, who continue their road trip against the Red Deer Rebels tonight (7:30, CKLQ) after failing to earn at least a point for the first time in six games.
Tristan Jarry made 27 stops to help the Oil Kings win their sixth game in a row.
ONE-TIMERS: Quenneville’s goal gave him points in five straight games (four goals, five assists), while Brandon D Ryan Pulock assisted on the marker, extending his point streak to six games (two goals, seven assists) … Wheat Kings C Tim McGauley had a five-game streak snapped … Brandon was 1-for-3 on the power play, while Edmonton scored on its only chance … The Wheat Kings played without C John Quenneville, who is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury, while D Kord Pankewicz and LW Braylon Shmyr were also scratched … The Oil Kings’ scratches included C Reid Petryk, who completed a two-game boarding suspension.