Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Wheat Kings Earn Much-Needed Win

Jesse Gabrielle opened the scoring for Brandon on Tuesday.
  The Brandon Wheat Kings got goals from eight different players in an 8-5 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday night.

  Ryan Pulock and Richard Nejezchleb had a goal and two assists each for Brandon as the Wheat Kings moved two points ahead of Prince Albert and Red Deer in the three-team race for the final two playoff spots in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

  The Raiders and Rebels both have a game in hand, and both of those teams will be in action Wednesday.

  "We needed a win.  Compared to the alternative, it would have been pretty disappointing," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "It gives us something to build on to start our week, which is a big week for our team.  We talked earlier about making sure we got through this one and got our two points, which we did."

  Brandon had a 3-1 lead after the opening period and extended that lead to 5-1 on goals by Nejezchleb and Braylon Shmyr in the opening 2:31 of the second period.

  From there, the game deteriorated into an exchange of scoring chances, defensive zone miscues and turnovers.

  "For the week to play out, we needed to win tonight.  I would have liked us to have won a little bit cleaner," added McCrimmon, "We were the better team, we built a lead and we did some of those things.  We know we have to be better in some areas and we will be on Friday."

  Jesse Gabrielle, Rene Hunter, Rihards Bukarts, John Quenneville and Tim McGauley also scored for the Wheat Kings.

  Rookie Jordan Papirny was outstanding in net despite giving up five goals, making 40 saves including at least a half-dozen spectacularly.

Nolan Patrick made his
WHL debut Tuesday.
  The game also included the WHL debut of 15-year Nolan Patrick, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft.

  Patrick played a regular shift on a line with John Quenneville and Jesse Gabrielle and finished +2 on the night.

  He thought he had scored his first WHL goal in the third period, but the whistle had blown milliseconds before the puck went into the net to access a penalty.

  Next up for the Wheat Kings is a crucial home-and-home series with the Regina Pats, with Friday's game in Regina and Saturday's at Westman Comunications Group Place.

Chaff...Ryan Pilon had three assists for Brandon for the first three-point game of his WHL career...Bukarts' second period goal extended his goal-scoring streak to four games while McGauley shorthanded marker in the third period extended his current point streak to six games...Wawanesa product Jordan Thomson of the Blades played in Brandon for the first time in his WHL career and earned an assist...former Wheat King Ayrton Nikkel was out of the Blades' lineup and will miss the rest of the season with a lower body injury.

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