The Brandon Wheat Kings moved back into top spot in the Western Hockey League's East Division with a 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades Wednesday night.
Brenden Walker's goal exactly eight minutes into the third period snapped a 3-3 tie and helped move Brandon one point ahead of the Blades, though Saskatoon still does hold a game in hand.
The game-winner Wednesday night was easily the biggest of Walker's WHL career to date.
"It felt really good," said an excited Walker on CKLQ's post-game show, "That puck just came out to me and I just poised out the goal and the net was empty and I scored."
Walker was an unlikely hero considering he didn't start the game on one of Brandon's top three lines but got bumped up to right-wing with Brent Raedeke and Shayne Wiebe in the third period.
"Kelly (McCrimmon) gave me a chance there. He told me between the second and third that I'd be going up on that line and, sure enough, we started clicking and had some good shifts together," says Walker, who has seven goals and 17 points on the season, "It just came, I think, and we came out strong."
Wiebe added a goal and two assists for Brandon while Aaron Lewadniuk, Matt Calvert and Brayden Schenn, into an empty-net, also scored for the Wheat Kings.
Calvert's goal early in the second period gave Brandon a 3-1 lead but Saskatoon was able to rally with goals from Josh Nicholls and Derek Hulak later in the middle frame as the Wheat Kings were back in the heals for much of the second period.
However, the club responded with a strong third period.
"Coming off a period where I didn't think we played well, in the second, and credit to our guys because we pushed back," says Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "We had a little more jump in the third and were a little bit better offensively even though there weren't a lot of shots either way."
Jacob De Serres made 22 saves in the Brandon net including a couple of key stops late in the second period to keep the game tied 3-3.
Steven Stanford stopped 19 shots for Saskatoon with Gaelen Patterson scoring the other goal for the Blades.
The victory not only allows the Wheat Kings to leap-frog over Saskatoon, it also moves Brandon to within one point of Calgary for first-place overall.
Brandon's next action is Friday night, when they finish a five-game home stand by hosting the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Chaff...F Michael Ferland returned to the Brandon lineup Wednesday after missing 10 games with a hand injury...F Paul Ciarelli (thumb) is also close to returning but was scratched Wednesday along with F Mark Stone (concussion), D Mark Schneider (concussion) and D Ryley Miller (jaw).