Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Wheat Kings Clinch Conference Pennant

  The Brandon Wheat Kings are Eastern Conference pennant winners for the second straight year.

  Brandon clinched first-place in the Conference with a 6-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos Tuesday night, scoring the game's final five goals after falling behind 2-1 five minutes into the second period.

  John Quenneville had two goals and an assist for Brandon, sparking the Wheat Kings' offence with the game-tying goal six minutes into the second period -- just 45 seconds after the Broncos had taken their second one-goal lead of the night.

  Reid Duke followed with Brandon's third goal 25 seconds later to give the Wheat Kings their first lead of the game.

  "We're a team that thrives on momentum and anytime we get a goal or something big happens, we're really good on capitalizing on those situations and keeping it coming," said Quenneville had CKLQ's post-game show, "Having four lines and six 'D' really gives you an opportunity to come at the other team in waves, and that's what we kind of did in that stretch."

  Stelio Mattheos and Jayce Hawryluk added a goal and an assist each for Brandon, with Hawryluk extending his goal-scoring streak to seven games with his 44th of the season in the first period.

  Tim McGauley also scored for the Wheat Kings while Ivan Provorov had three assists, making him just the third defenceman in the last 20 years with 70+ points and a plus/minus above +60 (72 points, +63).

  The victory was Brandon's seventh in a row, and improved the Wheat Kings' record to 46-18-4-2.

  More importantly, in guaranteed a first-place finish for a Brandon team that was six points behind Lethbridge for top spot on February 1st.

  "We've gone through a lot of adversity," said Quenneville, "For our team to battle like we did, string together hockey games and manage to put up points all the time, it's huge for us.  Hard work pays off, and it's great to see us at the top."

  "When you look at our location in the league and then, this year, having a much less favourable schedule, it took a lot of work to get to the top in terms of points in the Conference," added Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "It's not that long ago we were six or seven back so our guys are proud of that accomplishment and nice to do it here on home-ice in front of our fans."

  The victory also moved the Wheat Kings to within two points of the Victoria Royals for first-place in the WHL's overall standings.

  The Royals do have a game in hand, which they'll play Wednesday night in Kelowna.

  Brandon closes out their regular season by hosting Moose Jaw Friday and Regina Saturday while Victoria has a home-and-home series with Everett on Friday and Saturday.

Chaff...F Connor Gutenberg returned to the Wheat Kings' lineup Tuesday after missing 25 games with a lower body injury...F Tyler Coulter (lower body) is listed as day-to-day but didn't play Tuesday, snapping his consecutive games streak at 148...other Brandon scratches Tuesday with F Ty Lewis (upper body), F Linden McCorrister (upper body) and F Jaeger White (upper body)... Brandon is 23-6-2-0 since a 10-0 loss in Red Deer on January 2nd, and 15-3-2-0 since February 1st...Quenneville's third period goal was Brandon's league-leading 15th shorthanded goal this season.

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