|Quintin Lisoway scored Brandon's only goal Saturday|
Jackson Whistle stopped 31 shots in the Kelowna net and, without a doubt, was the game’s #1 star. Whistle was at his best in the first period, denying the Wheat Kings’ Jesse Gabrielle on a penalty shot 58 seconds into the contest, stopping Nolan Patrick on a breakaway chance and making a diving glove save on Rihards Bukarts on a late first period Brandon power-play.
He also made a flurry of saves right before the end of the second period including a point-blank stop on Tim McGauley that preserved a 2-1 Rockets’ lead.
“Really well played game. We gave up hardly any shots against (8 in the 2nd, 5 in the 1st),” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ’s post-game show, “You couldn’t have asked for a better two-way game than we played in the first 40 minutes.”
The battle between two of the top teams in the Western Hockey League proved to be a fast-paced affair and, prophetically by both coaches, was decided by special teams.
Brandon went 0-for-5 on the power-play and surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals, the most costly of which was Nick Merkley’s marker 59 seconds into the third period that allowed Kelowna to extend their lead to 3-1, the first of four unanswered goals for the Rockets in the final frame.
On the other side, the Rockets’ league-leading power-play scored three goals in the contest with two of those coming in the third period when Brandon’s discipline seemed to wane as the deficit grew.
“Definitely a case of our special teams, for me in particular, our power-play not being as good as it needed to be, not rising to the occasion in any way, shape or form and, in fact, putting us in a hole,” said McCrimmon.
McCrimmon also said on CKLQ’s post-game show that they can take a lot of positive out of the contest and that, through 40 minutes, certainly proved them can compete with the best in the WHL.
However, he also says they need to learn from what they didn’t do well in the third period.
The loss dropped Brandon to 10-3-1-0 on the season, still atop the East Division but two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon will continue their road trip Tuesday when they visit the Victoria Royals (8:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).
Chaff...Whistle’s father Dave played four seasons with the Brandon Univeristy Bobcats...Brandon scratches F Richard Nejezchleb (suspension), F Ty Lewis (upper body), F Braylon Shmyr (healthy), D Mark Matsuba (healthy) and D Mark Taraschuk (healthy)...F Rihards Bukarts saw his nine-game point streak end Saturday while Peter Quenneville’s seven-game streak, Tim McGauley five-game streak and Ivan Provorov four-game goal streak also all ended...Rockets’ coach Dan Lambert will coach the Canada-Red team, whose roster includes Wheat Kings’ F Nolan Patrick, at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that begins next weekend...former Wheat Kings Wade Redden was among those in attendance at Saturday’s game. Redden is involved in a new venture that gives tips to grassroots coaches. You can check it out online at www.prosamartsports.ca.