Thursday, 16 February 2012

Short-Staffed Wheat Kings Double 'Canes

Brenden Walker had a natural hat-trick for Brandon
on Wednesday
For the Brandon Wheat Kings, less was more on Wednesday night.

Brandon dressed just 15 skaters because of injury but still emerged with a 4-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the final game of their three-game Central Division road trip.

Brenden Walker’s natural hat-trick had the Wheat Kings in front 3-0 before the game hit the 32-minute mark, an important lead considering the short-staffed lineup Brandon iced.

Michael Ferland also scored for the Wheat Kings with Corbin Boes stopping 39 shots including 20 in the third period.

“I thought it was a great effort by our guys. We had a lot of guys step up and just do little things, and that’s what you have to do when you have a short bench,” said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You have to block shots, just get everything out, clear the net and then get some goaltending, and Corbin was excellent as the game went along.”

The game played out perfectly for the shorthanded Wheat Kings, with a combined three power-play opportunities for the two teams which meant Brandon didn’t have to overuse any of their top players with a lot of special teams duty.

Mark Stone added a pair of assists to increase his league-leading total to 94 points, with the Stone-Walker-Ferland line combining for 15 goals, 33 points and a +28 rating during the last six contests.

“They could be one of the top lines in the league when they’re at the top of their game, and the last two games they’ve been just excellent and not just offensively,” said Ritchie, “They’ve worked to get back and play defensively, and they’ve shown some leadership. We’re short-staffed and they’ve taken it on their own to lead guys and they’ve done an excellent job by doing that.”

Brody Sutter and Graham Hood scored for Lethbridge while former Wheat King Liam Liston stopped 28 shots in the Hurricanes’ net.

The win moves Brandon eight points ahead of ninth-place Red Deer and leaves the Wheat Kings still three points behind seventh-place Regina in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Brandon’s next action is Friday night when they host the Prince Albert Raiders (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

Chaff…F Jason Swyripa (lower body) missed the first game of his two-year WHL career, ending his consecutive games played streak at 130 games…Mark Stone extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games (6 G, 13 A). The Wheat Kings’ captain is still two points ahead of Regina’s Jordan Weal for top spot in the WHL scoring race…Brandon goaltender Corbin Boes is now 4-2 with a 2.70 GAA and .925 SPCT in his last seven appearances...Ryley Miller's third period minor pushed his career penalty minute total past the 400 mark.

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