Nolan Patrick had three goals and two assists as the Wheat Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels 5-2 to win the Eastern Conference Final four games to one.
The Wheat Kings overcame a 2-1 deficit with three unanswered second period goals, with Patrick completing his first career WHL playoff hat-trick and John Quenneville scoring a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the middle frame.
Kale Clague added further insurance with his sixth goal of the playoffs in the third period, while Jordan Papirny made 24 saves in the Wheat Kings’ net.
“There are a lot of guys in our room that are leaders that stepped up and helped the guys out and told the guys what we need to do to get things done,” said Patrick on CKLQ’s post-game show, “Kelly (McCrimmon) was great between periods as well, telling us we needed to get our feet moving here. I think everyone stepped up and it was huge to get the win here.”
Red Deer opened the scoring for the fourth time in the series on a goal by Jake DeBrusk 7:16 into the contest.
Patrick tied it less than three minutes later, but Evan Polei restored Red Deer’s one-goal lead by scoring at 14:23 of the opening frame.
Patrick tied the game 1:26 into the second period on a setup from Jayce Hawryluk, and then gave Brandon their first lead of the contest by converting a feed from John Quenneville at 16:19.
Quenneville made it 4-2 with 48 seconds left in the second period and Clague completed the scoring at the 12:08 mark of the third period.
Red Deer’s best chance to come back in the third period came on a Luke Philip breakaway when it was still 4-2, but the Rebels’ captain was stopped by Papirny.
The Wheat Kings are now into the WHL Final for the second straight year, hoping to finish off what eluded them a year ago.
“I think we’re all just excited to be back. After losing in the final last year, a lot of guys had a sick feeling in their stomach,” said Patrick, “This is a day we’ve been working for all year, to get back to the Western Hockey League Final, so we’re excited to turn the page and get things going here.”
Brandon will face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with the opening two games to be played in Brandon next Friday and Saturday (May 6-7).
Tickets for those first two games will go on sale Monday at 11:00 a.m. at the Keystone Centre box office.
Chaff...Brandon dressed the same lineup for the 10th straight game, scratching D Schael Higson, F Garrett Armour, F Caiden Daley and F/D Mark Matsuba...the Wheat Kings have now won 14 straight games when having a chance to close out an opponent in the WHL playoffs...Brandon F Tim McGauley had his 10-game point-scoring streak end on Friday...both teams were 0-for-4 on the power-play in Game 5...attendance was 5,605, Brandon’s largest crowd of the season.