Wheat Kings fall 5-1 to Warriors
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Ryder Korczak and Harper Lolacher each scored twice as the Moose Jaw Warriors rallied from a tough first period to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-1 in Western Hockey League action at Moose Jaw Events Centre on Friday.
Atley Calvert also scored for Moose Jaw (29-15-0-3), with Calder Anderson replying for Brandon (19-21-5-0) in front of a crowd of 2,806.
Brandon head coach and general manager Marty Murray said his team had an ideal start but the mistakes began to add up as the game went on.
“You probably couldn’t ask for a better start,” Murray said. “In the first 10 to 12 minutes, we were creating, we were winning races to pucks, and had some good chances. We scored on the second shift of the game and had some real good looks after that but you could kind of see it coming a little bit.
“We got a little lazy and didn’t manage the puck well and kind of left Barney (goaltender Carson Bjarnason) out to dry a little bit. They’re too good of a team, when you give them that many chances, they’re eventually going to start to go in.”
It took Brandon just 83 seconds to open the scoring, with Nolan Ritchie making a no-look backhand pass from the end boards into the slot, where Anderson fired a quick shot past Moose Jaw goalie Connor Ungar. Brett Hyland drew an assist in his first shift after missing five games with a lower-body injury.
It was Anderson’s third goal to go with three assists in six games this season against his former team.
After being outshot 14-7 in the first period, the Warriors pressed for the equalizer to start the second period, holding Brandon without a shot for seven minutes while managing several chances but failing to beat Bjarnason.
The Warriors finally went to their only man advantage with eight minutes remaining in the middle frame, and their potent power play pinned the Wheat Kings in their zone. With one second remaining on the man advantage, the puck popped into the slot and Lolacher lifted a shot over Bjarnason to knot the game 1-1.
It was Moose Jaw’s fifth power-play goal in their last three games against Brandon.
The hosts nearly took their first lead in the dying seconds of the middle frame, but Bjarnason made a pair of sensational saves after Luke Shipley was stripped of the puck in the low slot.
At the other end, the former Wheat King Ungar was terrific as well, denying Brandon forward Zakhar Polshakov on a breakaway six minutes into the third period.
The game was ultimately lost in a nine-minute span in the third period when the Warriors struck for four goals.
Brandon struggled to deal with Moose Jaw’s speed and persistence at times, and repeated pressure by the Warriors finally paid off when Calvert tipped a shot by Denton Mateychuk past Bjarnason to give the hosts a 2-1 lead with 12:24 remaining in regulation.
The back breaker came with seven minutes left when Logen Hammett’s pass up the middle bypassed a teammate and landed on the stick of Maximus Wanner, who sent the puck over to Korczak. The New York Rangers prospect quickly blasted a shot into the Brandon net, and just 59 seconds later, tipped in another shot to give Moose Jaw a 4-1 lead with 6:02 remaining.
Lolacher finished up the scoring when he elected to shoot on a two-on-one.
“The one thing that we talk about probably more than anything is how to manage the puck, and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” Murray said. “Some resulted in goals but a lot didn’t and Barney made some big saves. That changes the momentum of the game and was kind of a turning point.”
Bjarnason made 28 saves for the Wheat Kings, with Ungar stopping 32 shots for the Warriors. Brandon went 0-for-2 on the power play, with Moose Jaw scoring on its only chance.
ICINGS: Brandon skated without forward Ben Thornton (upper body, week to week) and defenceman Eastyn Mannix (upper body, day to day), along with healthy scratches Zach Turner and Matt Henry … On a new line, Nate Danielson skated with newcomers Nolan Flamand and Dawson Pasternak. Rylen Roersma played with Polshakov and Evan Groening on the third line, and youngsters Caleb Hadland, Roger McQueen and Tony Wilson were together on the fourth line … Polshakov was guided into the padded barrier between the benches on a heavy hit by Warriors forward Robert Baco. He was in some discomfort on the bench but returned to the game soon after … Defenceman Quinn Mantei was also shaken up by a hit in the neutral zone but didn’t leave the game … Anderson led the Wheat Kings with five shots on net … Mateychuk, Eric Alarie and Logan Dowhaniuk each had a pair of assists for Moose Jaw … The game took just two hours, 13 minutes to play … In the faceoff circle, Moose Jaw won 32-24 … Keegan Slaney of the Calgary Hitmen received a one-game suspension for his actions following a 4-2 loss to the Wheat Kings last Friday … Brandon returns to action Tuesday when the Saskatoon Blades visit Westoba Place. The puck drops at 7.
» Twitter: @PerryBergson