BRUCE BUMSTEAD / BRANDON SUN
Wheat Kings John Quinneville tried to sneak the puck under Regina Pats' goaltender Nick Schneider as Jesse Zqraggen ties him up during Friday night's WHL game at Westman Place.
The Western Hockey League’s Christmas break didn’t rob the Brandon Wheat Kings of any momentum.
Rolling into their 12-day break with a 5-1-2-0 record in their last eight games, the Wheat Kings picked up right where they left off on Friday, scoring four times in the first period on their way to an 8-0 pasting of the Regina Pats at Westman Place.
"I liked our first period, I really liked our energy," Wheat Kings head coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon said. "You’re never sure when you come off the Christmas break what exactly your team is going to look like, but I thought we were real good early in the game."
Jet lag was no problem for the Wheat Kings imports, who returned from Europe on Christmas Day and combined for six points, with Rihards Bukarts scoring two goals and adding an assist, while Richard Nejezchleb scored a goal and set up two others.
"I get a really good Christmas break back home, and I was not thinking about hockey," said Bukarts, a first-year WHLer from Latvia, "and I just came back to Brandon a couple days, get two practices and I was feeling real excited this night."
Peter Quenneville had a goal and an assist, while Ryley Lindgren, Ryan Pulock, John Quenneville and Tim McGauley also scored as the Wheat Kings (19-14-3-0) leaped over the Pats (18-15-2-2) and into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Eric Roy assisted on three Brandon goals.
Obscured by all the offence was a fine performance from rookie Jordan Papirny, who made 30 saves for his first WHL shutout and the first by any Wheat King goalie since Curtis Honey blanked the Kootenay Ice on Jan. 24, 2012.
"For me back there, (the shutout is) obviously in the back of my head," said Papirny, who had the comfort of playing with a large lead most of the night, but had to make some big stops in the second and third periods to keep his shutout intact. "But the mission doesn’t change. I’m just there to stop the puck and that’s what I did."
Bukarts struck twice in the first period on breakaways as Brandon scored its fourth goal at a time when Regina had recorded only five shots on net. Leading 5-0 going into the third period, the crowd of 3,749 picked up its intensity when Pulock made it 6-0 in the third period, then erupted when John Quenneville scored midway through the frame, triggering a promotion where fans get free breakfast for the first time this season.
All four lines hit the scoresheet for the Wheat Kings and McCrimmon said contributions across the board is something he is looking for as the team enters a busy stretch of four games in five nights and six in nine days.
"Every player was plus (in plus/minus), so that’s a great sign for our team," said McCrimmon, whose team visits the Pats tonight (6:30, CKLQ) in Regina. "We did play four lines and I thought that we got pretty good contributions from up and down the lineup. And again, coming off the break where your legs are bound to be a little bit heavy, we thought playing four lines was going to be important and I think it was."
The Pats used both of their goalies with Dawson MacAuley starting and finishing the game, stopping 27 of the 34 shots he faced. Nick Schneider made four saves on five shots.
ONE-TIMERS:Brandon RW Jayce Hawryluk, who served a two-game suspension earlier this month, could face another after he was given a boarding major and ejected in the third period for a hit on Regina D Jesse Zgraggen, who left the game and did not return … The Wheat Kings scratched LW Jesse Gabrielle (Team West) and LW Braylon Shmyr (Team Pacific), who are both at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, along with D Kord Pankewicz and local midget call-ups C Duncan Campbell and C Tanner Kaspick … Regina scratches included LW Morgan Klimchuk (hip flexor), LW Max Kammerer (German national junior team) and D Brady Reagan (Team Pacific) … D Kale Clague, a Brandon prospect, scored three straight goals to help his Lloydminster Bobcats come from behind and tie the Calgary Buffaloes 3-3 Thursday on the first day of the Mac’s Midget AAA tournament in Calgary. He added three assists Friday in a 6-5 loss to the Battlefords Stars.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 28, 2013