Sunday, 27 January 2013

Hitmen Blank Wheat Kings

  The Brandon Wheat Kings closed out a three-game Alberta road trip with a 5-0 loss to the Clagary Hitmen on Sunday night.

  Brady Brassart and Jake Virtanen had a goal and an assist each for the Hitmen while Mack Shields had to make just 16 saves to record the shutout.

  The Wheat Kings barely mustered an offensive attack in the contest, being outshot 32-5 in the opening 40 minutes while Curtis Honey was under siege for the most of the night at the other end, finishing with 43 stops in the Brandon goal.

  “Guys started to do their own thing, and you can’t do that when you’re playing your third game in three nights,” said Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You need to have short shifts to have that energy, and we definitely didn’t have that tonight.”

  It was a disappointing end to the weekend for the Wheat Kings, who collected their fourth win in six games Friday night in Red Deer but faltered badly in their back-to-back meetings against Eastern Conference powerhouses Edmonton and Calgary.

  “I think we need to sit down, re-assess things and really look in the mirror.  This is the time of the year where we should be getting better,” said Ritchie, whose team was blanked for the fifth time this season “We need to take a step here and, right now, we haven’t.”

  Brandon went 0-for-6 with the man advantage on Sunday, leaving them goalless in their last 25 power-play chances and dead-last in the WHL with an overall success rate of 14.3 per cent this season.

  It also means the Wheat Kings have achieved the rare double – last in the league in both special teams categories.

   It was the fifth straight game the Wheat Kings had allowed 40 or more shots, with the club having surrendered 235 shots against in that span or an average of 47 shots against per game.

  The loss leaves Brandon 11 points out of a playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

  The Wheat Kings’ next action is Wednesday when they host the Saskatoon Blades (7:05 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).

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