Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wheat Kings Pushed to Brink

The Brandon Wheat Kings find themselves on the verge of being eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs.

Edmonton dominated the final 40 minutes in a 5-1 victory over Brandon Tuesday night, giving the Oil Kings a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Ryan Pulock power-play goal midway through the first period gave Brandon a 1-0 lead after the opening frame but the cracks were already starting to show, with the Oil Kings recorded the period's last five shots.

Things bubbled over in the second, with Edmonton getting goals from Travis Ewanyk and Curtis Lazar while outshooting Brandon 19-2 in the middle frame.

T.J. Foster and Mitchell Moroz then added back-to-back power-play goals early in the third period to erase any doubt about the eventual outcome.

"We got the early lead that we wanted. It seemed when they turned the level up in the second period, we started turning pucks over and didn't respond properly," said Brandon coach Cory Clouston, "We had a couple of guys banged up that didn't help matters but, no excuses, we have to have a better effort. I thought the early power-play goal in the third really deflated our bench."

The Oil Kings outshot Brandon 33-13 over the final 45 minutes of the contest and consistently hemming the Wheat Kings into their own zone.

"We had a good first there...we didn't generate a whole lot in the 2nd and, luckily, it was 2-1 heading into the third," said Brandon netminder Corbin Boes, "We ran into penalty trouble, some bad penalties, selfish penalties and it is what it is. We have to play for our lives (Wednesday) and play for some pride."

Game #4 of the series goes Wednsday night at Westman Communications Group Place and, to make matters worse, the Wheat Kings could be missing a couple of key players.

Brandon captain Mark Stone did not play in the third period of Game #3 because of an upper body injury while Michael Ferland did not see the ice after taking a bad penalty early in the third period but that was also because of an injury concern.

"He's got upper body as well and was questionable to start the third," said Clouston, "That was just a matter of the way the game was going, the score of the game and, hopefully, he'll be ready (Wednesday) and we're not sure about Stone as well."

Chaff...attendance Tuesday was 3,651 but, as bad as that sounds, it's actually 315 higher than the average for first playoff games at Westman Communications Group Place the last six years...Winnipeg Jets' general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was among those in attendance at Tuesday's game, and he guested with me during the second intermission of our broadcast on CKLQ.

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