Curtis Valk’s goal only 32 seconds into the game signalled the start of a long night for the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday in the Western Hockey League.
The Wheat Kings tied the game shortly afterward, but it was all downhill from there as they fell 6-1 to the host Medicine Hat Tigers, missing out on a chance to grab a share of the East Division lead.
Miles Koules had two goals and two assists as the Tigers (33-20-3-0) beat the Wheat Kings (28-22-5-1) for the second time in a week. Anthony Ast also had two tallies, while Steven Owre rounded out the Medicine Hat scoring. Richard Nejezchleb replied for Brandon after Valk’s goal, but the Tigers used four first-period power plays to gain a goal and loads of momentum as they took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
"I think just the start to the game was real poor," Wheat Kings head coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon said. "And yet we did manage to tie the game shortly after, which I thought was real key, but then penalty trouble. We took four straight penalties, killed all of it but the final two seconds of the Eric Roy penalty, which allowed them to build what was a 2-1 lead to a 3-1 lead by the 10-minute mark of the first period. We never recovered over the course of the night."
McCrimmon gave the Wheat Kings’ penalty killers credit for holding them in the game, as well as some big saves by Curtis Honey, who stopped Cole Sanford on a second-period penalty shot while the Tigers were short-handed. But the Wheat Kings failed to cash in on that power play and Koules scored late in the second to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead that they would continue to extend in the third.
"We had a minute and 45 seconds left on that power play, what was our first power play of the night, and to me that would have been a time to step up and be counted and make that a 3-2 game and we didn’t execute the plays," said McCrimmon, whose team was 0-for-2 with the man advantage, while Medicine Hat was 1-4. "We aren’t finishing many plays right now, as one goal on this trip would support."
Now 0-2 on their trip after falling 3-0 to the Broncos on Sunday, the Wheat Kings visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes tonight (7:30, CKLQ) with another chance to catch Swift Current for the division lead.
ONE-TIMERS: Honey stopped 29 shots, while Medicine Hat G Marek Langhamer made 20 saves … The Wheat Kings scratched LW Rihards Bukarts (upper-body injury, day-to-day), LW Braylon Shmyr and D Kord Pankewicz … Former Wheat King RW Jordan DePape of the University of Manitoba Bisons was named the Canada West athletic conference’s second star of the week after posting three goals and three assists in two games.