The Brandon Wheat Kings got a first-hand look at one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League on Friday night and saw that they have some work to do to get to that level.
Curtis Lazar scored two goals as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 11 games with a 6-2 victory over the Wheat Kings at Westman Place.
The Wheat Kings certainly had their moments, but against an Oil Kings squad that came at them in waves, Brandon captain Ryan Pulock said his team’s effort needed to be more consistent.
"I thought we played OK," he said. "There’s times I think we could have been better that we just weren’t moving our feet and teams like that, with the skill and the speed they have, they’re going to hurt you."
Dylan Wruck had a goal and two assists, while Trevor Cheek, Travis Ewanyk and Henrik Samuelsson also scored for the Eastern Conference leading Oil Kings (41-11-2-3). Pulock and Eric Roy replied for the Wheat Kings (20-32-2-2), who share last place in the conference with the Regina Pats.
Brandon goalie Curtis Honey made 38 stops, while Edmonton netminder Tristan Jarry came up with 24 saves.
The teams came out of the gate and were closely matched until Cheek opened the scoring 7:18 in. The Oil Kings grabbed the momentum from there and took a 2-0 lead on Wruck’s power-play goal off of a precision passing play, but the Wheat Kings got that back on their own man advantage as Pulock blasted a point shot off the post and in.
That boost was undone only 12 seconds into the second period when Ewanyk netted what turned out to be the winner.
Roy scored on a point shot to get Brandon back within a goal, but again Edmonton responded, with Samuelsson converting Wruck’s 2-on-1 feed.
"I thought the first shift in the second period really hurt us where they scored," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "And then we battled back, found Eric Roy’s goal and I thought that we were just kind of there on the verge all night and we needed a line to step up for us or we needed somebody to kind of take charge when we were given the opportunity."
Lazar scored both of his goals in the third period, the last one coming with the man advantage with just 37.5 seconds left after a three-man scrum between Brandon defenceman Colton Waltz and Edmonton forwards Stephane Legault and Mitch Moroz turned into an Oil Kings power play.
That was only one of a number of calls that drew disapproving roars from the crowd of 3,903, but the Wheat Kings themselves said they needed to be better disciplined.
"We talked about it all day long, when we’re preparing for a team that’s got a power play as good as them, we’ve got to be disciplined," said Gylywoychuk, whose team went 1-for-2 on the power play, which Edmonton was 2-for-5.
Now 2-1 on their seven-game homestand, the Wheat Kings are back in action tonight against the Pats and Brandon forward Jayce Hawryluk said this game is vital.
"It’s the defining game of our season (tonight)," said Hawryluk, who had two assists. "We need a win."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon D Ryan Pulock’s first-period marker was his first goal since Dec. 11 … Wheat Kings C Jayce Hawryluk extended his point-scoring streak to five games including four straight multi-point games … Brandon scratched D Tyler Yaworski (Game 2 of six-game suspension), G Corbin Boes (knee, indefinite), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand, indefinite) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion, indefinite).