Saturday, 9 May 2015

Wheat Kings Fall Behind 0-2

Brandon's Nolan Patrick and Kelowna's Leon Draisaitl
set for the start of Game #2
  The Brandon Wheat Kings find themselves in a two-game hole in the Western Hockey League's Championship Series.

  Nick Merkley had two goals and an assist to lead Kelowna to a 5-3 victory over the Wheat Kings Saturday night, giving the Rockets a two games to none lead in the series.

  Merkley delivered a death blow to the Wheat Kings' momentum with a shorthanded goal midway throughk the third period after Brandon had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game on a pair of Peter Quenneville goals earlier in the final frame.

  "I think everybody was anticipating us taking the lead.  We had a great look coming in off the wing.  Jayce (Hawryluk) had the puck on his forehand, he's a shooter we're completely comfortable with him making that shot and it didn't happen at that end and they came back down, got a step on our defender, went in on a breakaway shorthanded and scored," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on CKLQ's post-game show, "It was that close to being 4-3 for our team and, within seconds, it was 4-3 for Kelowna."

  "When it came down to it in the third period, I think we definitely deserved a better result but, unfortunately, we failed to get that 4-3 goal and instead gave up the 4-3 goal," said Brandon captain Peter Quenneville, "I think if we get that next one, it could be a different story."

  Brandon jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Tim McGauley 1:20 into the contest but the Rockets came back with back-to-back goals from Rourke Chartier and Merkley, who scored with 3.3 seconds left in the opening frame to give Kelowna 2-1 lead.

  Gage Quinney made it 3-1 27 seconds into the second period and then the Wheat Kings controlled most of the rest of the middle frame, pouring 19 shots on Kelowna netminder Jackson Whistle, who stopped them all en route to a 38-save performance.

  "I also think it came down to lack of focus in key situations and key chances," added Quenneville, "In the second period, we had a lot of chances to score and even in the third, we had some chances that we needd to put by him so, unfortunately, we didn't get it down."

  Jordan Papirny made 26 saves for the Wheat Kings, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since January 6th and 10th.

  The WHL Final now moves to Kelowna, with the next three games scheduled for Prospera Place beginning with Game #3 on Monday (8:35 p.m. CDT, 880 CKLQ).

Chaff...both teams dressed the same lineups as they did for Game #1, with Brandon scratching D Mark Taraschuk, D Mark Matsuba, D Kale Clague, F Reid Duke, F Quintin Lisoway and F Stelio Mattheos...Brandon went 1-for-4 on the power-play while the Rockets did not have a power-play chance...attendance for the second straight game was a sellout crowd of 5,502.

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