The Wheat Kings trail the Rockets three games to none and will be facing elimination for the first time in the 2015 playoffs Wednesday.
The big picture is that Brandon will need four straight wins to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time since 1996 but the Wheat Kings are looking at the much smaller picture, which is to simply register a win on Wednesday.
“We can only worry about winning the first game and we’ve yet to be able to do that. That’s where our focus and our attention needs to be,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon on Tuesday, “If you look at the big picture of having to win four in a row to be a league champion, that’s going to look daunting to a lot of people but, internally, we’re going to worry about the first one.”
“In order to get four wins, which is what we need to do, you have to get the first one and that’s the most important thing right now,” added Brandon centre John Quenneville, “We’re just worried about Wednesday night’s game...that’s all that’s on our minds right now.”
The Rockets have prevailed in the first three games of the series thanks in large part to getting out to a relatively early lead on Brandon.
The Wheat Kings have trailed 3-1 by the early part of the second period in each of the first three games, which has left the team little margin for error as they attempt a comeback in those contests.
“You’re then left with just under 40 minutes where you’re trying to climb back in the game, which leads you to press and force things a little more than what you do if you’re playing with the lead than if you’re playing in a one-goal game or a tie game,” said McCrimmon.
McCrimmon add they haven’t had the puck as much as they’re used to in the first three games of the series and have been playing a lot more defence than they’ve had to in the regular season or in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
He says they’ll need more patience with the puck on offence, better puck protection and more emphasis on zone time is something they’ll need to have happen in order to have success moving forward.
“That’s things a lot more positive for everybody. We all feel we’re more than good enough and it’s just some strange things have happened,” said Quenneville, “We’re a real good hockey team, we’ve done some great things this year and beaten some great hockey teams and Wednesday night isn’t any different.”
Another key for Brandon to prolong this series will be trying to control the Rockets’ line of Leon Draisaitl, Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier.
The threesome has combined for eight goals and 17 points in the first three games of the series while also being a combined +18.
The rest of the Kelowna team has combined for six goals and 20 points so far.