Elkhorn’s Travis Sanheim had the first multi-point game of his Western Hockey League career to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Thursday night.
The 17-year-old rookie defenceman scored the opening goal, then assisted on the winner for the Eastern Conference leaders and was named the game’s first star.
The game was tied 1-1 with two minutes to go in the second period, but the Hitmen netted the go-ahead goal late in the frame and three penalties in the third period conspired to keep the Wheat Kings from making much headway against the Eastern Conference’s stingiest defence.
“The second goal hurt us, but I think being down 2-1 after two periods isn’t so daunting … but we killed three penalties in the third,” said Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon, whose team killed the last six Hitmen power plays after giving up a goal on Calgary’s first opportunity. “Our penalty kill was excellent, but just cost us too much time killing penalties.”
Jake Virtanen assisted on two goals, then scored into an empty net for the Hitmen (25-8-2-3). Ben Thomas and Chase Lang had the other Calgary markers.
Peter Quenneville scored for the Wheat Kings (20-16-4-0), who return home to host the Regina Pats on Saturday after going 1-2-1-0 on their road trip.
The Wheat Kings outshot the Hitmen 9-7 in the first period, but gave up the opening goal with Jayce Hawryluk — back in the lineup after serving a three-game suspension — in the penalty box for goaltender interference. On the power play, Sanheim got the puck at the blue-line and wristed a shot that found its way through traffic and past Brandon goalie Curtis Honey.
The Wheat Kings tied the game in the second period with a power-play goal of their own as Quenneville deposited the rebound of a Ryan Pulock shot, but the Hitmen went back on top late in the frame, with Thomas scoring on a slap shot from the point.
Lang added an insurance marker midway through the third, with Virtanen wrapping up the scoring.
ONE-TIMERS: Honey made 32 saves, while Hitmen G Chris Driedger stopped 23 shots …Quenneville is on a five-game point scoring streak (3 goals, 5 assists) ...The Wheat Kings were 1-for-2 on the power play … Sanheim has two goals and five assists in his last 11 games. His twin brother Taylor is now on Calgary’s protected list after going to training camp with the Wheat Kings this season … Brandon RW Jens Meilleur played his 200th career WHL game on Thursday … The Wheat Kings scratched D Colton Waltz (upper body), LW Jesse Gabrielle (Team West) and LW Braylon Shmyr (Team Pacific), who are both at the World Under-17 Challenge, as well as their midget call-ups, D Kale Clague, LW Duncan Campbell and LW Tanner Kaspick, who scored in his WHL debut on Tuesday … Edmonton sent a second-round pick in this year’s WHL bantam draft to Vancouver for D Blake Orban, 19, on Thursday.