Lights. Camera. Inaction!
Playing in front of hockey fans across Western Canada on a Shaw cable TV broadcast on Friday night, the Brandon Wheat Kings appeared to miss their cue, falling behind 4-0 in the first period on their way to a 6-0 loss to the Prince Albert Raiders at Westman Place.
"It leaves a pretty bitter taste in your mouth to lose to a division rival like that," Wheat Kings centre Chad Robinson said. "And to put on the display that we did tonight, it was pretty embarrassing in front of our own fans."
Playing without four key veterans and forced to dress one player short of the maximum, the Wheat Kings were undermanned and overwhelmed against the Western Hockey League’s East Division leaders.
Among the missing were Brandon’s top two scorers, Alessio Bertaggia, who is out with a lower-body injury, and captain Ryan Pulock, who has what the team is now calling an upper-body injury.
But Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said last night’s game was more about what Prince Albert did and what the players in the Brandon lineup didn’t do.
"We got taught a lesson in work ethic. We got taught a lesson in compete level and also how you play a good team game," Gylywoychuk said. "P.A. came in and taught us a lesson in our own building and we’ve got to be held accountable for it."
Davis Vandane scored a goal and set up two others for the Raiders (17-7-0-2). Mark McNeill and Josh Morrissey had a goal and an assist each, while Brandonite Carson Perreaux, Zach Hodder and Logan McVeigh also scored.
Raiders goalie Luke Siemens made 18 saves for the shutout, while Corbin Boes made 38 stops for the Wheat Kings (10-12-2-1).
Boes made a number of big saves in the game, but was also victimized by some soft goals.
"I’m sure if you asked Corbin, he’d want a couple of those goals back or probably all of them," Gylywoychuk said. "He competes and he’d want all of them back but I think at certain times we left him out to dry back there and I don’t think it was fair to him at all."
The Raiders outshot the Wheat Kings 18-4 in the first period and had a 3-0 lead 8:41 into the contest, with Perreaux notching the second Prince Albert goal on a scramble in front of the Brandon net. Former Wheat King Dakota Conroy also got in on the act, assisting on McVeigh’s goal with 34 seconds left in the first period that made it 4-0.
"I’ve said it before … you’re going to face adversity in a game, it’s just the way you handle it," Robinson said. "We haven’t faced adversity very well thus far and that’s something we need to work on."
The Wheat Kings had their moments, with some strong shifts and quality scoring chances scattered here and there — Kord Pankewicz was robbed of what would have been his first goal by Siemens in the third period, while Taylor Cooper hit a post moments later.
But the momentum never lasted for long and the Raiders scored twice more in the third period to ice the victory.
The teams meet again tonight in Prince Albert, Sask., and they’ll have plenty to think about it on the long bus ride there.
"We owe them now and we need a better showing (tonight)," Robinson said.
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 3,870 … Brandon D Ryley Miller will face a league review after receiving a kneeing major for his hit on Prince Albert RW Mark McNeill late in the game. McNeill played on the ensuing power play … With RW Jens Meilleur (lower body) joining D Ryan Pulock (upper body) and LW Alessio Bertaggia (lower body) on the sidelines, the Wheat Kings were missing three of their top six scorers … Brandon also scratched C Tyrel Seaman (upper body) and D Colton Waltz (personal) … LW Richard Nejezchleb returned to the Wheat Kings’ lineup after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury … Pulockhas been ranked as the eighth-best prospect for next year’s NHL Entry Draft in the latest edition of the Red Line Report. Brandon D Eric Roy is ranked 89th.