The Brandon Wheat Kings have some tweaks to make as they try to wrap up their Alberta road trip with a winning record tonight.
The Wheat Kings are 1-1 on the trip after being thumped 6-2 on Monday night by the Eastern Conference leaders, the Edmonton Oil Kings. With a battle tonight (7:35, CKLQ) against another one of the conference’s top teams in the Calgary Hitmen, Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk is urging his team to stick closely to a simple game plan.
"We have an opportunity to get four out of a possible six points on the road trip," he said. "It’s going to be a good challenge for us. It’s a hard building to go into against a very good team. We’re going to have to keep our game simple and take away as many opportunities as we can from (the Hitmen) and create some offence on our specialty teams, our power play."
The Wheat Kings (14-21-2-2) have struggled on their specialty teams in the three games since returning from the Western Hockey League’s Christmas break, going just 1-for-12 on the power play and killing off only 11 of their 17 opponents’ chances. Against the Oil Kings (25-8-2-3), the Wheat Kings gave up two power-play goals and were 0-for-6 with the man advantage, including two early chances that could have could have given them some momentum and two five-on-threes.
"First and foremost, I think the biggest (issue with special teams) that we’ve seen after the break has been our discipline," Gylywoychuk said. "I think our discipline has got to be corrected and taken care of right away. We had eight minors in Red Deer (a 6-5 victory over the Rebels on Sunday), we took a lot of minors again (Monday) night. … When you give teams like Red Deer and Edmonton power plays, they’re going to score some goals against you, so that’s a concern. And I think our power play’s got to be able to find some offence for us. It’s got to seize opportunities, it’s got to find a goal here for us and it’s got to be able to get some momentum in games for us."
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period in Edmonton, the Wheat Kings got back to within a goal on a Tim McGauley marker late in the frame. Gylywoychuk thought his team played well after getting on the scoreboard, but lost momentum when the Oil Kings started the second period on the power play, and Edmonton went on to score the next four goals.
"Coming out in the second, we killed off a penalty and I think Edmonton really took advantage of momentum off that power play," he said. "And then we were back on our heels for the rest of the period and I really felt that we could never get back on top again."
Richard Nejezchleb, who assisted on McGauley’s goal, scored one of his own in the third period. Henrik Samuelsson led the Oil Kings with three goals, while defenceman Keegan Lowe scored twice and Mitchell Moroz rounded out the Edmonton scoring.
Corbin Boes made 30 saves in the Brandon net, while Edmonton goaltender Laurent Brossoit stopped 21 shots.
ONE-TIMERS: Wheat Kings LW Mike Ferland left the game in the second period with what the team is terming an upper-body injury, and Gylywoychuk said he will be a game-day decision for the Calgary contest … Brandon D Ryan Pulock has not had a point in five games, his longest slump since October 2010 during his rookie season … Wheat Kings LW Nick Buonassisi sat out his second straight game due to the overage limit on Monday, while the team’s other scratches were LW Alessio Bertaggia (Swiss junior team), C Jayce Hawryluk, C/LW John Quenneville (both at the Under-17 Challenge), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion), D Rene Hunter (personal) and RW Tyler Coulter.