COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ayrton Nikkel and Moose Jaw Warriors forward Sam Fioretti tangle during the final home pre-season game before next week's Western Hockey League season opener on Friday night at Westman Place.
The Brandon Wheat Kings had one of those ‘welcome to the Western Hockey League’ moments on Friday night.
A young Wheat Kings squad got a good look at what the consequences can be for teams that show up with less than their best, being blasted 7-1 by the Moose Jaw Warriors in a pre-season game at Westman Place.
"I think it’s a valuable lesson that we learned for everybody, from our young guys to our veterans, that you’ve gotta be able to come and compete every night," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "… It’s a stepping stone that we have to take and make sure that we learn from it and correct it right away, before there’s two points on the line."
Friday’s first lesson: Stay out of the penalty box.
The Wheat Kings were short-handed 10 times and the Warriors scored twice on the power play. Moose Jaw got another goal two seconds after a Brandon penalty expired and yet another on a 4-on-4 after the Wheat Kings took a minor that brought their own power play to a premature end.
Overall, it was a respectable performance by the penalty killers, but the time in the sin bin simply took too much momentum away from the Wheat Kings.
"You can kill off so many penalties before you start shooting yourself in the foot," said Gylywoychuk, whose team wraps up the pre-season tonight in Moose Jaw, Sask. (7:30, CKLQ). "I think that’s what happened tonight. I think there were times where we killed some penalties off and then we’d get caught in our end (and) we couldn’t get pucks out. … As it went on, they found ways to score on their power play. They’ve got a very talented back end and, give them credit, they found some ways to shoot some pucks in our net and we gave them lots of opportunities."
Defenceman Travis Brown scored twice for the Warriors (2-1-1-0), with Carter Hansen, Brayden Point, Bryson Gore and Torrin White adding singles. Andrew Johnson dished out three assists.
Eric Roy, the only player that Brandon dressed on Friday to put up more than 20 points last season, scored for the Wheat Kings (1-2-0-0).
Spencer Tremblay made 22 saves for the Warriors, while Curtis Honey stopped 17 of 19 shots in the first 33 minutes in the Brandon net before giving way to Jordan Papirny, who stopped 12 of 17.
"We’ve gotta protect our goalies a little bit more," Roy said. "We were kinda playing soft today and hopefully tomorrow we can have a better work ethic."
The Wheat Kings penalty killers got a test early on back-to-back penalties by Richard Nejezchleb and Ryley Miller. The stats say they killed them both, but just after Miller’s minor expired, Hansen shovelled a rebound into the Brandon net for a 1-0 Moose Jaw lead.
The second period was where it really fell apart as Moose Jaw got six power plays and blitzed Brandon for four goals in a span of 3:42 — two of them with the man advantage, and Brown’s second of the night while the teams were playing 4-on-4.
Brandon finally broke through on a power play of its own, with Roy netting his first of the pre-season, with 2:07 left in the second period.
White and Uhrich both added to the lead in the third, leaving the Wheat Kings with little to do but figure out how to reverse their fortunes tonight.
"Good thing it’s not regular season," Roy said. "Hopefully we’ll learn from this and it will never happen again."
@:ONE-TIMERS: Three veterans — D Ryley Miller, RW Jens Meilleur and LW Dominick Favreau — made their pre-season debuts for the Wheat Kings, along with rookie RW Kyler Hehn … Brandon scratched C Tyrel Seaman (one-game suspension), C Jayce Hawryluk (concussion), G Corbin Boes, D Ryan Pulock, D Tyler Yaworski, LW Alessio Bertaggia, C Nick Buonassisi, RW Hunter Smith, LW Taylor Cooper, LW Geordie Maguire and C Quintin Lisoway … C Brayden Cuthbert, a Brandonite, remains with the Warriors, but has yet to play in the pre-season while recovering from a concussion that has sidelined him since January 2011 ... Attendance was 891 ... A number of former Wheat Kings were assigned to the AHL Friday in advance of today’s expected NHL lockout. Among those sent down were LW Michael Ferland (Calgary), C Kevin Sundher (Buffalo), C Scott Glennie (Dallas), C Brent Raedeke (Detroit), LW Matt Calvert (Columbus) and D Travis Hamonic (New York Islanders). D Colby Robak (Florida) and D Nolan Yonkman (Florida) were re-assigned Thursday, while C Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia) and RW Mark Stone (Ottawa) were also expected to be sent to the AHL.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 15, 2012