The Brandon Wheat Kings have their captain firing on all cylinders again.
Ryan Pulock had five assists as the Wheat Kings beat the visiting Regina Pats 5-2 on Saturday night at Westman Place to break a four-game Western Hockey League losing streak.
Pulock had six assists in the weekend home-and-home series, matching his point production from December and January combined.
"It was a monkey off my back for sure," said Pulock, who missed time during those previous two months with wrist and facial injuries. "The last stretch, with the injuries and coming back, (the points) haven’t really been happening for me and hopefully throughout this last stretch (of the season) they can keep coming."
Jayce Hawryluk scored two goals as the Wheat Kings (19-31-2-2) remained last in the WHL’s Eastern Conference but moved to within 11 points of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who hold the eighth and final Eastern playoff spot. Hawryluk opened the scoring on a power play, threw a scare into fans by limping back to the dressing room after going feet first into the boards in the second period, then returned in the third to clinch the win with an empty-net marker. John Quenneville added a power-play goal and an assist as the Wheat Kings went 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
After going through an 0-for-29 slump, Brandon’s power play was 3-for-9 on the weekend, with two more goals coming within two seconds after Pats penalties ended. Although the Wheat Kings gave up an Adam Brooks power-play goal in the third period, penalty killing proved to be just as pivotal on Saturday as the Wheat Kings killed off a Tyler Yaworski major in the second frame that preserved a two-goal lead.
"(Killing) the five-minute major really gave us a lot of life," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "It was a turning point in the game, which I though was a really good credit toward the guys. They beared down and they got it done."
Marek Kalus and Eric Roy rounded out the scoring for the Wheat Kings, while Braden Christoffer had the Pats’ other goal. Brandon netminder Curtis Honey made 31 saves, five more than his Regina counterpart, Matt Hewitt.
The win kicked off a seven-game homestand for the Wheat Kings and Quenneville believes it also gave the club a shot of confidence.
"It’s been a tough stretch," he said. "I think we’ve been improving every day, but we just haven’t been able to seal the deal in our games and tonight I thought we had a full 60-minute effort from all 20 of our guys."
ONE-TIMERS: Hawryluk's first-period tally gave him a hand in seven straight Wheat Kings goals (five goals, two assists). The streak was broken on the Kalus goal … Yaworski is facing a possible suspension for his open-ice hit that knocked Regina D Luke Fenske out of the game … Brandon scratched G Corbin Boes (knee, indefinite), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand, indefinite), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite) and D Kord Pankewicz … Attendance was 3,656 … The Wheat Kings’ next game is Wednesday, when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes (7 p.m., Westman Place).