Wheat Kings rally to beat Pats


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Vincent Iorio scored twice and added three assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings came back to beat the Regina Pats 6-4 in Western Hockey League action at Brandt Centre on Friday.

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Vincent Iorio scored twice and added three assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings came back to beat the Regina Pats 6-4 in Western Hockey League action at Brandt Centre on Friday.

Nate Danielson also scored twice, with singles coming from Trae Johnson and Landon Roberts for Brandon (19-14-2-2), with Borya Valis sniping twice for Regina, and former Wheat Kings defenceman Neithan Salame and Easton Armstrong also scoring for Regina (16-18-0-1) in front of a crowd of 3,921.

Brandon head coach Don MacGillivray said his team’s start wasn’t what he wanted, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected from a club that hasn’t played since Jan. 16.

Perry Bergson/The Brandon Sun Vincent Iorio

“I wasn’t sure how we were going to be because we were off for 11 or 12 days,” MacGillivray told broadcaster Branden Crowe. “We were a little bit slow to the game and the pace was fast. When the other team was playing with that pace and physicality, we had to get adjusted. We were dipping our toes in a little bit but our power-play got us some goals and that got back us in the game, and then I thought we did a real good job in the third period. We got a big goal to start the third period and then basically shut her down.”

It took Regina just 74 seconds to take the lead. Young star Connor Bedard carried the puck into Brandon’s zone, whipped a no-look backhand pass into the slot and Stanislav Svozil set up Valis at the corner of the net for a tic-tac-toe goal past a helpless Brandon goalie Ethan Kruger.

The Pats widened the lead midway through the period on the first power play of the game, when Valis deflected a shot to make it 2-0, and Brandon kept it that close only because Kruger made a sensational save on Connor Bedard on a two-on-one, and then thwarted a Pats breakaway soon after.

Brandon was given its first power play near the end of the period, and managed just two shots while surrendering another two-on-one that Kruger turned aside.

Iorio finally put Brandon on the board 4:02 into the second period after a chippy start to the middle frame when the big defenceman’s shot from the point on the power play found its way through Regina goalie Matthew Kieper’s glove.

But just 18 seconds later, Salame’s shot went through Kruger’s legs on the ice to restore Regina’s two-goal lead at 3-1. Salame, who spent three years with the Wheat Kings, also had an assist on Regina’s second goal.

Brandon drew back within a goal 9:31 into the period when Iorio scored another power-play goal with a shot from the high slot past Kieper’s blocker, but Regina once again responded, with Armstrong beating Kruger through the legs again six minutes later to give the host their third two-goal lead.

It was all Brandon after that.

Johnson finally got his first WHL goal in his 16-year-old season and it came in highlight fashion. The youngster carted the puck up the ice, put it between the legs of a Regina defender and then flicked it into the top of the net 18:49 into the period. The puck hit the back bar and came out so quickly that play briefly continued, although a video review conclusively proved it was a goal.

The Pats promptly sent the Wheat Kings back to the power play, and Danielson completed the comeback on a one-timer that he buried with six seconds remaining in the middle frame that tied the game 4-4.

Brandon continued the onslaught 53 seconds into the third period when Danielson deflected in a firm pass from Ridly Greig, giving the visitors three goals in just over two minutes.

Kruger turned aside all seven shots by the Pats in the third period and made 23 saves overall, and Roberts sealed the deal for Brandon with 29 seconds remaining.

Kieper stopped 17 shots for the Pats. Brandon went 3-for-5 on the power play, with Regina scoring once in two chances.

Iorio’s five-point game impressed his coach, especially with veteran Mason Ward out of the lineup day to day with a lower-body injury.

“He was real good tonight and had to play lots of minutes,” MacGillivray said. “I think without Mason in there, (Chad Nychuk) and Vinny play a little bit more. He did a real good job on the power play. He shot the puck twice from the top and both shots found their way in. I thought he got back for pucks, he moved the puck, he got to his net, he made the right plays and made the game easier for his teammates.”

ICINGS: Brandon also skated without F Jake Chiasson (upper-body, indefinite), and healthy scratches Jesiah Bennett and Zach Turner … The Wheat Kings won’t be heading to Prince Albert for today’s scheduled game with the Raiders as P.A. struggles with a COVID outbreak. They return to action against the Saskatoon Blades on Sunday … With Sunday’s game in Saskatoon, the Wheat Kings will play six in a row on the road … Danielson led the Wheat Kings with four shots on net … The game took two hours, 32 minutes to play … In the faceoff circle, Regina won 39-26.


» pbergson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @PerryBergson


Wheat Kings 6, Pats 4

First Period

1. Regina, Valis 6 (Svozil, Bedard) 1:14.

2. Regina, Valis 7 (Svozil, Salame) 12:29 (pp).

Penalties — Iorio Bdn (interference) 10:45, Salame Reg (tripping) 16:21.

Second Period

3. Brandon, Iorio 5 (Ritchie, Ginnell) 4:02 (pp).

4. Regina, Salame 1 (Bedard, Valis) 4:20.

5. Brandon, Iorio 6 (Hyland, Polshakov) 9:31 (pp).

6. Regina, Armstrong 3 (Michaels, Svozil) 15:34.

7. Brandon, Johnson 1 (Iorio) 18:49. 

8. Brandon, Danielson 10 (Iorio) 19:54 (pp).

Penalties — Johnson Bdn (fighting major) 2:18, Carrier Reg (fighting major) 2:18, Nychuk Bdn (roughing) 3:03, Bateman Reg (cross checking) 3:03, Dubinsky Reg (roughing) 3:03, Bateman Reg (cross checking) 8:03, Ginnell Bdn (fighting major) 11:35, Brook Reg (fighting major) 11:35, Feist Reg (holding) 16:35, Evans Reg (cross checking) 19:23.

Third Period

9. Brandon, Danielson 11 (Greig, Iorio) 0:53.

10. Brandon, Roberts 6 (unassisted) 19:31 (en).

Penalties — Hyland Bdn (tripping) 10:42, Harris Bdn (roughing) 13:32, Armstrong Reg (roughing) 13:32.

Shots on goal by

Brandon     6     9     8     —     23

Regina     9     11     7     —     27

Goal — Brandon: Kruger (W, 13-7-2-2). Regina: Kieper (L, 14-12-0-0).

Power plays (goals-chances) — Brandon: 3-5; Regina: 1-2.

Referee — Adam Bloski, Mike Langin. 

Linesmen — Sean Dufour, Tarrington Wyonzek.

Attendance — 3,921 in Regina.

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