The Brandon Wheat Kings opened the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night.
Jacob De Serres stopped 33 shots in the Brandon net including 15 in the third period, including back-to-back stops in tight on Tyler Shattock and Jimmy Bubnick that preserved what was then a 2-1 Brandon lead.
“I tried to follow the puck and made the first save,” said De Serres on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Then, it made a weird bounce to the right, and then I picked it up and I saw (Bubnick) shoot and I just tried to follow it and I kicked my pad and I got it.”
Travis Hamonic, Brayden Schenn and Matt Calvert all had a goal and an assist each for Brandon while Toni Rajala also scored for Brandon.
Zac Stebner and Rajala exchanged first period power-play goals before Hamonic’s breakaway goal 2:37 into the second period gave the Wheat Kings their first lead – a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night.
Hamonic came out of the penalty box and took a lead pass from Scott Glennie, break in alone on Calgary netminder Martin Jones and beat him with a low shot.
Schenn padded the Wheat Kings lead to 3-1 9:03 into the third period just moments after De Serres had made the big back-to-back stops on Shattock and Bubnick.
Joel Broda got Calgary to within a goal with 2:19 left but Matt Calvert salted the win away with an empty-net goal with just one second remaining.
The victory improved to a perfect 6-and-0 on the road so far in the post-season.
“There’s a lot more structure on the road, that could be a reason why,” offered De Serres, “I think we’re just a good team. I don’t know if there’s too much explanation for it, we’ll play on the road as well as we play at home. I think another reason is that we’re such a well-rounded team that the match ups don’t play too big of a difference for us.”
The Wheat Kings look for a seventh straight road victory on Saturday night when Game #2 takes place at the Saddledome (7:38 p.m., CKLQ).
Chaff…Brandon scratched D Ryley Miller, D Darren Bestland, D Jordan Fransoo, F Jesse Sinatynski and G Liam Liston…Brandon went 1-for-3 on the power-play while Calgary was 1-for-2…Brandon took two of five minor penalties that were dished out in Game #1...Brandon's win and Vancouver's 4-2 victory over Tri-City in Game #1 of the Western Conference Final on Friday night leaves road teams with a 40-30 record so far in the 2010 WHL playoffs.