Sporting their Pink the Rink jerseys, members of the Brandon Wheat Kings celebrate a second-period goal during Saturday night’s Western Hockey League game against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers at Westman Place. The game-worn jerseys were auctioned off through the night, with the proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The Brandon Wheat Kings will be packing a busload of confidence with them when they leave on their West Coast road trip this week.
The Wheat Kings celebrated their last home game for nearly three weeks with a 6-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday night at Westman Place. With their next five games against teams in the Western Hockey League’s highly competitive U.S. Division, forward Richard Nejezchleb said the victory over the Tigers will give the Wheat Kings a boost for the trip.
"We talk about it’s the last home game and we try to win and send the guys in the States a message and it worked good," said Nejezchleb, who had a goal and an assist, as did teammates Jayce Hawryluk and Rihards Bukarts.
John Quenneville scored an empty-net goal and added two assists, while Ryan Pulock and Braylon Shmyr also tallied as the Wheat Kings (7-5-0-0) handed the Tigers (7-2-2-0) only their second loss in regulation time this season.
"They’re the top team out there and we wanted to prove that we can be better than them and we showed it (Saturday), so that was pretty good for us," said Shmyr, a 16-year-old rookie whose goal was his first of the season.
Tigers star Hunter Shinkaruk set up Jacob Doty for the opening goal, only 34 seconds into the game, and later scored himself.
The hiccup at the start of the game did little to slow the Wheat Kings, who scored the game’s next four goals, taking a 4-1 lead into the third period. The Tigers bared their teeth in the final frame, firing 20 shots at Wheat King goalie Curtis Honey. But goals by Shinkaruk and Markus Eisenschmid were countered by Quenneville’s empty-netter and a highlight-reel coast-to-coast rush by Bukarts, who finished it off by deking netminder Daniel Wapple.
While happy with his team’s performance over the first half of the game, Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Brandon’s defence was spotty after that, perhaps due in part to protecting a large lead. The margin of victory matched the Wheat Kings’ largest of the campaign — an opening-night 6-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors — but that was a one-goal game until Brandon scored twice late in the third period.
"We haven’t had a lead like that … this season," McCrimmon said. "You learn something from every game regardless if you win or if you lose, and I think (Saturday) we needed to be little more business-like once we had the lead. ... And really, the way the third period played out, the Bukarts goal was a big goal for us to give us that cushion."
<Bt-5>ONE-TIMERS: Saturday’s Pink the Rink game raised nearly $25,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, largely due to the auction of the special pink jerseys worn by the Wheat Kings … Honey made 43 saves, while Wapple stopped 30 shots … Hawryluk left the game after being hauled down and sliding heavily into the boards late in the second period … The Wheat Kings went 2-for-3 on the power play and killed all four Tiger opportunities, including a 45-second two-man advantage in the second period … Attendance was 3,707 … The game was the 200th of <B>Chad Robinson’s career … The Wheat Kings scratched D <B>Kord Pankewicz, D <B>Dominic Thom, LW <B>Tyler Coulter, LW <B>Brett Kitt and LW <B>Jesse Gabrielle … The Tigers played without C <B>Trevor Cox and RW <B>Miles Koules, two of their six highest-scoring forwards … With a six-game road trip starting on Friday in Spokane, the Wheat Kings don't play at home again until they host
the Saskatoon Blades on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 21, 2013