Saturday, 29 January 2011

Wheat Kings Push Into Playoff Spot

The Brandon Wheat Kings picked up their fourth win in five games on Friday night and, in the process, moved into a playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Mark Stone snapped a 3-3 tie with 8:49 left in the third period to lift Brandon to a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen, the Wheat Kings’ second straight road victory after a seven-game road losing streak.

Brandon emerged from a shaky first period with a 1-0 lead on Shayne Wiebe’s team-leading 27th of the season with 47 seconds left in the opening frame.

Calgary outshot Brandon 18-7 in the first but were stymied by Brandon goaltender Liam Liston.

“I thought Calgary were the much better team in the first period and Liam Liston really was solid in the first period,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Good that Liam gave us a chance to still be in it and good for our team respond with the opportunity.”

Liston finished with 28 saves for the Wheat Kings to collect his 13th win of the season while Calgary product Matt MacKay added a goal and two assists, giving him 11 points during a five-game point scoring streak.

Rene Hunter also scored for the Wheat Kings while Kris Foucault, Alex Roach and Brooks Macek scored the goals for Calgary.

The win for Brandon moved them one point ahead of Lethbridge and Prince Albert and into sole possession of eighth-place in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s been a good stretch for us, and we’ve talked many times that when you’re in the area of the standings where we are, if you can get winning some games you can really make up some ground,” added McCrimmon, who’s team was seven points out of playoff spot just eight days ago.

The Wheat Kings are also three points back of Swift Current and Edmonton, who are tied for sixth in the Conference.

Brandon concludes their Central Division road trip on Saturday night when they visit the Medicine Hat Tigers (8:00 p.m., CKLQ).

Chaff…Brandon D Brodie Melnychuk (ankle) sat for the third time in four games while F Brenden Walker (illness), F Dominick Favreau (ribs) and F Paul Ciarelli (charleyhorses) were Brandon’s other scratches…the Wheat Kings returned F Dakota Conroy to the SSAC Athletics of the AMHL following Friday’s games…Newdale product John Lawrence was a healthy scratch for the Hitmen.

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