Brandon Wheat Kings Jayce Hawryluk is checked off the puck by Swift Current’s Richard Nedomiel as teammate Daniel Dale, left, gives chase during Saturday night’s WHL game at Westman Place. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon Wheat Kings head into the final week of the Western Hockey League season coming off a couple of strong efforts, but with not much to show for them.
After pushing the Eastern Conference leading Edmonton Oil Kings to a shootout before losing on Friday, the Wheat Kings had two strong periods undone by a weak second frame in a 3-2 loss to the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday at Westman Place.
"Give the guys credit. We’ve competed hard over the weekend," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, whose team sits last in the Eastern Conference at 22-39-4-4.
"And the last (about) 10 days, I thought the guys have really competed hard and given ourselves a chance. There’s just been some lapses that have hurt us and those we just can’t let happen."
The Wheat Kings opened and closed the scoring on Saturday. Eric Roy scored in the first period, while Geordie Maguire tallied in the third period for Brandon, which outshot Swift Current 28-18, including 11-3 in the final frame.
It was the middle period that was the Wheat Kings’ undoing, however, as the Broncos (34-29-3-4) got goals from Reece Scarlett, Dillon Heatherington and Adam Lowry.
"Guys got a 1-0 lead and in the second period they just got too loose and we got away from our structure and our game plan," Roy said. "It’s something that you can’t do in this league."
Defencemen Scarlett and Heatherington scored goals 1:51 apart — Heatherington’s on a power play — early in the period, followed by Lowry netting the winner on a nice feed from Jay Merkley, with only 34.8 seconds to go before the second intermission.
Maguire’s goal gave the Wheat Kings life in the third and they came close to tying the game on a furious late push, with Jayce Hawryluk hitting the crossbar as the final buzzer sounded.
Out of the playoff picture, the Wheat Kings will wrap up the season with three games this week — Wednesday against the Prince Albert Raiders (7 p.m., Westman Place), and a weekend home-and-home set with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
"Everyone’s playing for a spot (on next year’s team) right now," Maguire said. "And I think we’ve all got to play has hard as we can and play to win, because why else are you on this team?"
ONE-TIMERS: Broncos G Eetu Laurikainen made 26 saves, while Wheat Kings G Curtis Honey stopped 15 shots … Heatherington had a goal and an assist but left the game after taking a hard hit from Hawryluk late in the second period … Merkley had two assists … Maguire's goal was his first in 24 games … The Broncos were 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Wheat Kings were 0-for-3 … Attendance was 4,202 … Brandon scratched C/LW John Quenneville (lower body), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion), RW Marek Kalus (sick) and recently arrived 15-year-old LW Jesse Gabrielle.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 11, 2013