There was little evidence on Wednesday night of the flu that kept Curtis Honey and Jens Meilleur out of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ practice a day earlier.
Both played starring roles — Honey with 36 saves and Meilleur with two goals — as the Wheat Kings downed the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-1 at Westman Place to start their seven-game Western Hockey League homestand with two straight victories.
"It’s nice to win two in a row again and I think we’ve got to build from it and hopefully start a winning streak here," Honey said.
Meilleur combined with linemates Taylor Cooper (one goal, two assists) and Tim McGauley (three assists) on an eight-point night. John Quenneville also scored as the Wheat Kings (20-31-2-2) moved into a tie for 11th place in the Eastern Conference with the Regina Pats, nine points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers, who hold the final playoff spot. Jayce Hawryluk added two assists to stretch his point-scoring streak to four games.
"We had different guys at different times kind of come up big for us," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said. "I thought Curtis Honey held his own and really closed the door for us when we weren’t as good as we wanted to be."
Axel Blomqvist scored for the sixth-place Hurricanes (25-24-1-7), while former Wheat King goaltender Ty Rimmer made 29 saves in the Lethbridge net.
The Wheat Kings managed to sneak one past Rimmer — fresh off a 48-save, 5-2 win in Regina on Tuesday — midway through the first period. Meilleur scored on a wraparound, with the puck bouncing off Rimmer’s pad and into the net.
The Hurricanes got that back with only 13.2 seconds left in a period just after a Brandon penalty expired as Blomqvist parked beside the Wheat Kings’ net and redirected the puck past Honey.
The Hurricanes carried the play during much of the second period, but it was the Wheat Kings who came out of the frame with the lead, thanks to a Quenneville shot from the slot.
"It was a big momentum swing for us," Gylywoychuk said. "It enabled us to kind of get our head above water and get back on our toes and realize that there’s a game here and there’s two points out here and we haven’t been good, but we’ve got to find a way.
"There’s been games here where we’ve been tied at the halfway mark or we’ve been in the game and we haven’t realized the opportunity that we have and tonight we did and we found a way."
Cooper gave the Wheat Kings some breathing room, finding the top corner behind Rimmer on a power play, before Meilleur wrapped up the scoring on a scramble in front of the Lethbridge net for his first multi-goal game since Sept. 26.
"(Assistant coach Darren Ritchie) always tells me to go to the net; I’m not going to be scoring any highlight-reel goals anytime soon," Meilleur said. "I just try and go to the net and hopefully they go in for me."
The Wheat Kings’ next challenge is a big one. On Friday (7:30 p.m., Westman Place) they host the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings, who carry a nine-game winning streak into a meeting with the Pats tonight.
Honey said the key for the Wheat Kings in Friday’s game is to continue to improve defensively.
"Just like any winning team, it starts in the ‘D’ zone," he said. "You play good defence and you’re going to play good offence."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 2,901, the Wheat Kings’ first crowd under 3,000 this season … Brandon played one skater under the limit, scratching D Tyler Yaworski (first game of his six-game suspension), G Corbin Boes (knee), LW/RW Richard Nejezchleb (hand), C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) and C Chad Robinson (ill) … Lethbridge scratches included D Daniel Johnston (upper body) and LW Graham Hood (upper body) … Ex-Brandon C Brenden Walker, now with Saskatoon, played his 250th WHL game on Wednesday … NHL great Marcel Dionne will be the guest speaker at the CKLQ Wheat Kings Sportsman’s Dinner tonight.