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Wheat King winless skid hits six games

Kootenay’s Jagger Dirk (right) watches the puck hit Brandon’s Jens Meilleur in the skate Saturday at Westman Place.

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Kootenay’s Jagger Dirk (right) watches the puck hit Brandon’s Jens Meilleur in the skate Saturday at Westman Place. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)

The Brandon Wheat Kings’ offensive woes continued on Monday afternoon in Regina as they extended their longest skid of the Western Hockey League season.

Dyson Stevenson scored a pair of goals and set up another for the host Regina Pats as they shut out the Wheat Kings 4-0. The loss was Brandon’s sixth straight, although two of those six came in overtime or in a shootout. Brandon was playing its fifth game in seven days during a particularly gruelling stretch of schedule.

The Wheat Kings played the game one player short of a full lineup and were again without their top two scorers as centre Jayce Hawryluk was out with a lower-body injury, while centre John Quenneville has what the team has labelled an upper-body injury. They were sorely missed as Brandon’s power play went 0-for-5 and didn’t create many opportunities.

"Our power play hasn’t been good for us," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said via telephone from Regina. "That’s where we’ve generated offence all season, which is part of it. We’re not getting the shots and scoring chances in the last eight days that we were previously."

Discipline issues didn’t help Brandon either on Monday. The Wheat Kings (28-24-6-2) gave the Pats (31-22-3-3) four power plays in the first 21:08 of the game, but managed to kill them all off.

However, Stevenson put the rebound from Boston Leier’s point shot in the net on Regina’s fifth man advantage of the game to open the scoring. Braden Christoffer and Stevenson both struck before the second period closed as the Pats took a 3-0 lead, and the Wheat Kings couldn’t battle back.

"The first period was pretty evenly played. We had too many penalties to kill," McCrimmon said. "We killed our first four and they scored on their fifth one and that gave them momentum in the second period, where the game was won or lost. They were better than us."

Regina finished 1-for-8 on the power play.

It appeared that Tim McGauley opened the scoring for the Wheat Kings in the first period when his shot was dropped by Pats goaltender Daniel Wapple and trickled into the net, but a quick whistle negated the goal.

Morgan Klimchuk rounded out the scoring in the third period for the Pats, who got 23 saves from Wapple.

Jordan Papirny stopped 35 of the 39 shots he faced for the Wheat Kings.

With the win, the Pats took over sole possession of first place in the East Division and moved four points up on the struggling Wheat Kings.

Meanwhile on Saturday night, Jaedon Descheneau had a goal and three assists as the Kootenay Ice (33-22-2-2) beat the Wheat Kings 5-2 in front of 3,626 fans to sweep back-to-back games against Brandon at Westman Place.

Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist, while Luke Philp and Austin Vetterl also scored in Kootenay’s four-goal first period, which was highlighted by Descheneau’s power-play marker and Vetterl’s short-handed tally.

"Obviously we’re missing some key aspects of our team but … I thought guys still showed up and worked pretty hard," said Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock, who scored the game’s first goal. "The special teams was the difference tonight, and we’ve got to be better there."

Jens Meilleur also scored for the Wheat Kings.

Brandon starting goalie Curtis Honey was pulled after making 17 saves in the first period and was replaced by Papirny, who stopped all 22 shots he saw. Kootenay’s only goal after Papirny entered the game was an empty-netter by Tim Bozon.

Kootenay’s Westman defencemen both hit the scoresheet Saturday. Virden native Landon Peel had two assists and a plus/minus of +1, while Brandonite Landon Cross assisted on one goal and was +2 in the victory.

Mackenzie Skapski made 28 saves for the Ice (33-22-2-2).

Brandon will try to get back on track on Wednesday when it hosts the Victoria Royals at Westman Place at 7 p.m.

ICINGS: The Wheat Kings also scratched LW Rihards Bukarts (upper-body injury) and D Rene Hunter (upper body) on Monday, while RW Richard Nejezchleb returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday night.

» Brandon Sun

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 18, 2014

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