Saturday, 28 January 2012

Brandon Can't Beat Oil Kings

The Brandon Wheat Kings suffered their tenth loss of January on Friday night, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Eastern Conference leading Edmonton Oil Kings.

Henrik Samuelsson scored a pair of goals for Edmonton while Michael St. Croix had a goal and an assist, upping his season total to 79 points and establishing an Oil Kings’ record for most points in a single season.

It was a game that got away from the Wheat Kings in the second period.

Brenden Walker’s power-play goal 1:04 into the middle frame tied the game 1-1, but St. Croix’s goal 1:10 late allowed the Oil Kings to retake the lead and Edmonton added three more goals before the end of the second period for a 5-1 advantage through 40 minutes.

“After one, I thought we were fine…I thought we were right with them,” said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “We get the early goal there, the nice power-play goal to start the second, and they came right back the next shift and scored. We gave up 17 shots in the second period and, right now, our second period’s killing us.”

Brandon has been outscored 31-10 in the second period and has trailed through 40 minutes in 10 of 13 games so far this month.

The Wheat Kings did have a fairly strong first period Friday and I asked Ritchie what he liked about his team’s game in the opening 20 minutes.

“I thought we didn’t turn the puck over. I thought we got pucks in deep and played with some pace,” said Ritchie, “What happens when you start trailing, you start trying to do too much yourself and then we start turning pucks over and when you’re playing a first-place team, they’re just going to feast on that.”

Another possible positive for Brandon on Friday was the play of Corbin Boes, who stopped 14 of 15 shots in the third period after relieving Wheat Kings’ starter Curtis Honey.

“I’d say the first three minutes of that period, they could have scored four,” said Ritchie, “He made four great saves for us and, hopefully, that helps him with his confidence and gets him feeling a little more comfortable between the pipes.”

Michael Ferland scored Brandon’s other goal Friday, an inconsequential goal late in the third period with the club already trailing 6-1.

The loss drops Brandon to .500 on the season (24-24-1-2) and leaves the Wheat Kings just two points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and eight points ahead of tenth-place Swift Current for the final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

The Rebels came back from a 2-0, third period deficit to beat the Tri-City Americans 3-2 in overtime on Friday night.

Brandon concludes their Central Division road trip Saturday night when they visit the Rebels (8:00 p.m., 880 CKLQ or http://www.cklq.com/)

Chaff...the last time Brandon lost 10 games in a single month was January of 2000...of the Wheat Kings’ 11 losses since the Christmas break, six have been by four or more goals...Mark Stone's assist on Brandon's second goal was the 250th point of his Wheat Kings' career...Brandon product Carson Perreaux scored his first career WHL goal for Prince Albert in the Raiders’ 7-6 shootout win over Kootenay on Friday night...the Western Hockey League unveiled an ‘Ask the Commish’ feature on Friday. Tweet a question mentioning @TheWHL and using the hashtag #AskTheCommish or ask a question via the league facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WHLHockey.  WHL Commissioner Ron Robison will ask selected questions on weekly basis.

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