The first two games of the post-season were a nightmare for the Brandon Wheat Kings. They gave up 14 goals and saw their overage netminder leave Game 2 with an injury.
Home ice would seem like would be a nice balm for the Wheat Kings, but due to the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, they had to make the trek to play Game 3 in Dauphin, Manitoba instead.
Being in Manitoba seemed like it was enough to get Brandon’s highest scoring players going on Tuesday night and that was enough for them to take Game 3 by a 5-3 score and cut down the Tigers series lead to 2-1.
Ty Lewis, who had just one point through the first two games, scored twice, Linden McCorrister had two assists and Dylan Myskiw stopped 30 of 33 as Brandon ensured that the series will head back to Medicine Hat.
Lewis was not the only top-six forward to start producing more in Game 3. The team’s top-six scoring forwards in the regular season had combined for just four points through the first two games of the series. Five of those players got on the score sheet and combined for seven points in Game 3.
The Tigers opened the scoring just over five minutes into the first with a goal from their leading sniper. A broken stick off a shot from a Brandon point shot and no ensuing coverage on the point, led to Mark Rassell storming the other way on a 2-on-1. Braden Schneider, the lone defenseman back, elected to go hard at the non-puck carrying player and Rassell took that as an invitation to walk in and score.
Brandon tied the game up later in the first with a nice goal from their own leading scorer. Ty Lewis corralled a Kristians Rubins outlet pass and spun around on his way to the right faceoff dot, before wiring a shot by Tigers goalie Jordan Hollett’s blocker.
The Tigers were without Dylan MacPherson and Linus Nassen still on the back end as they both suffered injuries off of hits delivered by Baron Thompson of the Wheat Kings. Thompson is set to return to the ice for Game 5 after being suspended for three games for the hit on MacPherson.
Logan Thompson meanwhile was completely scratched after appearing to try to battle through something over the first two games. Dylan Mskiw got the start for the first time this series. Ethan Kruger was dressed to back up Myskiw.
In the second, the Wheat Kings used some slick passing to take their first lead of the series. Connor Gutenberg took a feed off some tic-tac-toe passing from Schael Higson and Linden McCorrister and fired a shot that eluded Hollett. The goal was his first of the playoffs.
Gary Haden then knotted the score up at two as he tracked a bouncing puck and batted home his second of the playoffs.
In the third, the desperate Wheat Kings were put on their heels when the Tigers took the lead 5:41 in. Jaeger White put the Tigers up 3-2 with a shot that sneaked through Myskiw’s pads and over the goal line. It was his second of the post-season.
Just 42 seconds later, the Wheat Kings proved they were ready to make this a series as they tied the game back up. McCartney flew around the Medicine Hat net and tucked home a wraparound that Hollett could not get over in time to stop.
Just 18 seconds after that, Brandon finally saw one of their most dangerous forwards notch a goal in the post-season. Evan Weinger flew in behind the Medicine Hat defense and poked home a nice feed from McCorrister for his first point in what has been a quiet post-season for the speedy overage winger who scored 31 goals and had 26 assists for 57 points in 64 regular season games.
Lewis then sealed the win for Brandon as he drove the net and took advantage of Luka Burzan blowing by the Tigers defense to tap in his second of the game.
With the Tigers depleted on the back end and some of their most potent forwards starting to find the score sheet, Brandon looks ready to make this a longer series – one where Tigers blue liners like Rubins and David Quenneville may start feeling all of those minutes they have been logging.
The game took place in Dauphin, Manitoba due to the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair taking place at the Keystone Centre.
The Tigers scored seven times in both Games 1 and 2. The 14 goals were spread throughout 11 players.
Mark Rassell leads the way with three goals and four assists for seven points.
Elijah Brown has stepped into James Hamblin’s spot on the top line and has a goal and three assists for four points.
Medicine Hat’s defense is depleted with Dylan MacPherson out after sustaining a knee injury.
Jordan Hollett had stopped 55 of 60 shots and has taken a hold of the Tigers net after returning from an injury.
The Tigers are 5-for-11 on the power play for 45.5 percent.
Brandon us 1-for-10 on the power play.
Baron Thompson was suspended for three games for his hit on MacPherson. He will not return until Game 5 (if that happens).
Brandon is lead by Marcus Sekundiak (two goals) and Ben McCartney (two assists).
The team’s top-six scoring forwards in the regular season have combined for just four points through the first two games of the series.
Logan Thompson has tried to play in the first two games. He has given up 12 goals on 51 shots.
Dylan Myskiw has stopped eight of 10 in two appearances over the first two games.