The Brandon Wheat Kings couldn’t leave Medicine Hat soon enough.
After the first two games of what was anticipated to be a tightly played best-of-seven opening Eastern Conference playoff series, the Medicine Hat Tigers have out-gunned the Wheat Kings by a combined score of 14-5.
The latest blow ended up being 7-3, as the Tigers held serve on home ice to take a 2-0 series lead.
Game 2 was delayed one day to accommodate Jeff Dunham’s Perfectly Unbalanced Tour.
After getting shelled for six goals on 18 shots in Game 1, Logan Thompson was back between the pipes. The extra time away from the rink didn’t appear to do him any favours.
The Wheat Kings and Thompson didn’t get off to an ideal start in Game 2 Sunday afternoon at the Canalta Centre, as the Calgary product allowed three of the first nine shots to sneak by him.
The other Thompson, Baron, was suspended for his knee-on-knee hit on Dylan MacPherson in Game 1. Neither player’s return has been determined.
NHL Entry Draft eligible prospect Ryan Chyzowski broke the ice for the Tigers when he bombed down the right wing, threw on the brakes and rifled one the glove of Thompson and in.
Seven minutes later, Mark Rassell found a loose puck in front of the net but was denied. His rebound kicked all the way out to David Quenneville at the point, who unleashed his patented clapper past Thompson to give the Tabbies a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers finished 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 1 after finishing the season with the 12th best unit a 22.02 per cent.
They struck again on their first opportunity when Ty Lewis got called for high sticking. Rassell finished off a pretty high-low-high passing play, by sniping one from the top of the right faceoff circle.
It was the fourth line that finally got the Wheat Kings and their seventh-ranked offense going in the second.
Jordan Hollett was back in net for the Tabbies and had trouble tracking the puck in tight. Marcus Sekundiak and Ben McCartney were whacking away, as the puck went behind the net. Hollett dove to the far post to try and cover the puck, but the biscuit squirted out to Sekundiak for the tap in.
The good feeling didn’t last long, as the Tiger’s top offensive producer in the playoffs, Mark Rassell, took over.
A goalmouth scramble 19 seconds later saw the captain find the puck in tight a roof it over the 20-year-old goaltender for his third of the postseason.
Thompson got into a grove in the second as the Wheat Kings continued to march to the box.
After killing three-straight penalties, highlighted by a couple quick saves on a pair of Ryan Jevne one-timers, the Tigers broke through once again on the man advantage.
Cole Reinhardt was escorted for roughing at the 16:43 mark of the second stanza, when Elijah Brown was one the receiving end of a seeing-eye pass from Jaeger White that ducked under James Shearer and Daniel Bukac, and tapped in his first of the playoffs.
The Tigers have now cashed in on 5-of-11 power play opportunites.
Brown, who is filling in on the top line for the injured James Hamblin, now has four points in the first two games of this best-of-seven series.
Entering the third period, the top three Wheat King scorers from the regular season — Ty Lewis, Stelio Mattheos and Evan Weinger — had only combined for one assist in the two games.
Things finally clicked for the leading Wheat King sniper when Quenneville bobbled a puck at the blue line and fell down, allowing Lewis to strut in all alone on Hollett and sniped low blocker.
Regrouping on another power play, Jaeger White was looking for Brown on the other post, but his centring pass went off Chase Hartje and past Thompson to make it 6-2.
Not every bounce went the Tigers way. Playing in second-career playoff game, the 18-year-old Gary Haden had the puck stripped from him leaving his own zone by McCartney, who found Sekundiak in the slot, who wired one five-hole for the fourth line’s second goal of the game.
Thompson was minimizing the damage each period and at no point in the first two games of this series showed any signs of ailments in his leg that kept him out of the final few weeks on the regular season.
With just under five minutes remaining in regulation, a scramble in front of the net sent his body in several directions to keep the puck out, but cost him the game. After the next whistle, Thompson left the game and did not return. Dylan Myskiw once again replaced him.
The Tigers had no problem foiling the backup, as Bukac threw a blind backhand pass out from his own corner into the slot. Waiting for the free puck was Josh Williams, who pumped in his first of the post season.
Myskiw finished up the final 4:47 with a pair of saves.
Now heading home, it’s a good news, bad news scenario now for the Wheat Kings.
The good news is that they have a long bus ride home to regroup and formulate a plan to get back into this series in front of their home fans.
The bad news is that the next two games won’t take place at the Keystone Centre.
The annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair invades the Wheaties home rink March 26-31.
The series will shift two hours north, to the Credit Union Place in Dauphin, the home of the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 in the Mountain Time Zone.