Wheat Kings finish trip with 2-0 win


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Nate Danielson scored and set up a second goal and goalie Carson Bjarnason made 19 saves to earn his third shutout as the Brandon Wheat Kings topped the Edmonton Oil Kings 2-0 in Western Hockey League action at Rogers Place on Sunday.

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Nate Danielson scored and set up a second goal and goalie Carson Bjarnason made 19 saves to earn his third shutout as the Brandon Wheat Kings topped the Edmonton Oil Kings 2-0 in Western Hockey League action at Rogers Place on Sunday.

Brandon (19-20-5-0) received its other goal from Rylen Roersma, with Edmonton falling to 6-35-3-0 in front of a crowd of 6,439.

In the previous meeting between the two clubs, Edmonton won 5-3 on Nov. 18.

Brandon head coach and general manager Marty Murray said it was a good end to the three-in-three trip in which his team earned five of a possible six points with a 4-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Friday and a 2-1 overtime loss to the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday.

In addition to a demanding schedule, illness swept through the Wheat Kings dressing room after Friday’s 4-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen, with several players and staff affected.

“It was a real quick turn-around from last night and to face the adversity with the illness we had going through the room here this weekend, I’m real happy with the guys and proud of them,” Murray said. “They really dug in and battled. To allow four goals in three games is quite impressive. We got really good goaltending in all three games and guys paid the price. It was good to see.”

On Sunday afternoon, Brandon’s power play, which went 0-for-7 a night earlier in Red Deer, finally struck exactly four minutes into the game when Danielson fired a shot over Edmonton rookie goalie Logan Cunningham.

The Wheat Kings took a penalty soon after and only a tremendous pad save by Bjarnason on Edmonton forward Marshall Finnie’s one-timer kept the visitors in the lead.

Brandon made it a two-goal game 12:33 into the opening frame when Danielson forced a turnover near the net and fed his linemate Roersma across the crease for a tap-in goal.

After a scoreless second period, the game took a scary turn with 12:32 remaining in the third period when Oil Kings player Rilen Kovacevic collapsed with a bad cut on his leg in the tunnel after leaving the Edmonton bench. Players from both teams quickly gestured for help and the play was immediately whistled down.

After an eight-minute delay, the game resumed.

“It’s tough,” Murray said. “Obviously everybody’s thoughts are with the player. When something like that happens, obviously that’s more important than a hockey game. The guys just quietly sat there and waited for instructions on when and how we were going to finish the game.

“Those are tough. Hockey becomes secondary. The message (to the players) was just to reset and finish the game out. I think we got the word the young man was OK so that’s the news we have. The guys were relieved to hear that.”

Four minutes after the stoppage, Brandon defenceman Eastyn Mannix was sent face-first into the end boards by Loick Daigle, and was helped off the ice, while Daigle was assessed a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct.

On the ensuing power play, Edmonton rookie forward Gavin Hodnett, who had a hat trick the last time the teams met, had a partial shorthanded breakaway that was stopped by Bjarnason. The Oil Kings pulled Cunningham, who made 42 saves, late in the game but weren’t able to muster any great chances.

“I think was a real growing weekend for a lot of guys,” Murray said. “… I thought (Evan Groening) had a real good weekend and has been playing some real good hockey. It’s nice to see guys like that take strides. (Caleb) Hadland came back and gave us a jolt. It was his first weekend back (from a lower-body injury) and he played real good hockey.

“For me it’s encouraging to get contributions from those guys who we need. It’s nice to have that depth, and guys took advantage of an opportunity.”

The Oil Kings visit Westoba Place on Feb. 10 and March 11 to finish up the four-game season series.

ICINGS: On Sunday, Brandon skated without injured forwards Brett Hyland (lower body, day to day) and Ben Thornton (upper body, week to week), along with Tony Wilson, Zakhar Polshakov and Zach Turner … Prospect Carter Klippenstein was called up for his second game of the season … The Wheat Kings had their first look at former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player Daigle, who was claimed on waivers by Edmonton. He is the son of former National Hockey League player Alexandre Daigle, and will almost certainly face a suspension for his hit on Mannix … Former Wheat Kings defenceman Jacob Hoffrogge was in the lineup for the Oil Kings. He also spent time with the Everett Silvertips this season … Nolan Ritchie led the Wheat Kings with seven shots on net … Brandon went 1-for-6 on the power play, with Edmonton unsuccessful in five chances … The game took two hours, 25 minutes to play … In the faceoff circle, Brandon won 37-17.

» pbergson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @PerryBergson

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