Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MacKay, Wiebe lead Brandon to 2-1 Series Lead

The Brandon Wheat Kings used their home away from home-ice advantage Monday night, downing the Medicine Hat Tigers 6-3 before 5,063 fans at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

Former Tiger Matt MacKay and captain Shayne Wiebe had a goal and two assists each to pace the Wheat Kings offence as Brandon took a 2-1 lead in the WHL’s Eastern Conference Quarter-Final.

It was likely Brandon’s poorest performance of the series to date but the club will still take the win.

“I thought we really struggled, and I don’t know if it was nerves being in front of friends and family for some of our guys, but it had the same feeling that a home opener has where you’re never quite sure if you’re going to be able to stick with it long enough,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Fortunately, in the third, we did settle down a little bit and got a real big win for our team.”

David Toews, Mark Stone, Brenden Walker and Hampus Gustafsson all had a goal and an assist each for the Wheat Kings while Liam Liston stopped 32 shots in his first career WHL playoff start.

“Overall, we didn’t come out with the two strongest first and second period,” added Wiebe, “But, in the third period, we found a way to bear down and Liston played really well, and we found a way to get the win.”

It was a game that the Wheat Kings never trailed in after Toews gave Brandon a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal just 1:33 into the opening frame, the only goal of the first 20 minutes.

The teams exchanged goals throughout the second period, with Brandon emerging with a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes. Brenden Walker’s power-play goal 2:54 into the third gave the Wheat King stheir first two-goal lead of the game and while Medicine Hat crept back to within one on Alex Theriau’s first career playoff goal three minutes later got the Tigers back to within one, they couldn’t find the equalizer and Brandon got that all-important next goal from former Tiger Matt MacKay with 6:26 left on the clock.

Gustafsson added an empty-net goal for the Wheat Kings.

Game #4 of the series is Thursday night at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, Medicine Hat could be looking at the second suspension of the series.

Brandon forward Brenden Walker had to leave Monday’s game with an apparent head injury after taking a blind-side hit from Medicine Hat’s Hunter Shinkaruk midway through the third period.

Walker did not play for the remainder of the game, but was on the ice following the contest to celebrate the victory with his teammates.

The WHL office may take a further look at the hit depiste the fact no penalty was assessed on the play.

The Tigers played Monday’s game without forward Kale Kessy, who was suspended for one game for the checking-from-behind double minor he got in Game #2 on Saturday.

Chaff...Monday’s victory improved Brandon’s all-time record at the MTS Centre to 10-2 while the attendance of 5,063 was the largest ever crowd for a Wheat Kings’ game that in building, which opened in 2005...Brandon went 2-for-3 on the power-play Monday and is now 6-for-17 (35.3%) in the series...Medicine Hat’s top five scorers from the regular season (Linden Vey, Emerson Etem, Wacey Hamilton, Kellan Tochkin and the injured Tyler Pitlick), have combined for just two goals and three points in the first three games of the series...the Tigers’ leading scorer through three games is Cole Grbavac, with two goals and five points after scoring just 28 points in the regular season.

Medicine Hat Tigers 3 vs. Brandon Wheat Kings 6
(at MTS Centre, Winnipeg)

First Period
1. Brandon, Toews 2 (Gustafsson, Walker) 1:33 (pp)

Penalties: Tochkin MH (high-sticking) 0:44, MacKay Bdn (tripping) 7:40, McKay MH (holding) 15:03.

Second Period
2. Medicine Hat, Coyle 1 (Shinkaruk, Grbavac) 3:21 (pp)
3. Brandon, Stone 1 (Wiebe, MacKay) 5:41
4. Medicine Hat, Grbavac 2 (Petryk, Bredo) 6:30
5. Brandon, Weibe 2 (Stone, MacKay) 11:36

Penalties: Fransoo Bdn (hooking) 1:26, Ferland Bdn (roughing) 12:31.

Third Period
6. Brandon, Walker 2 (Ferland, Roy) 2:54 (pp)
7. Medicine Hat, Theriau 1 (Grbavac, Carr) 5:54
8. Brandon, MacKay 1 (Wiebe, Toews) 13:34
9. Brandon, Gustafsson 2 (Glennie, Melnychuk) 19:31 (en)

Penalty: Theriau MH (holding) 1:07.

Shots on goal by
Medicine Hat 11 13 11 - 35
Brandon 7 10 12 - 29
Goal: Medicine Hat: Dubyk (L,1-1); Brandon: Liston (W,1-0).

Power plays (goals-chances): Medicine Hat: 1-3; Brandon: 2-3.

Referees: Brett Montsion, Derek Zalaski; Linesmen: Dustin Deck, Darrell Surminski.

Attendance: 5,063.

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