There was a plenty of optimism swirling around Westoba Place Tuesday night.
One of the reasons was the debut of Marcus Kallionkieli, who missed the first part of the season rehabbing from an injury.
Kallionkieli had 29 goals and 24 assists last year with the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Muskateers. He registered four shots on goal Tuesday.
In the end, the Wheat Kings did earn a point, but dropped a 2-1 shootout loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets.
In a game where the goaltenders stole the show, making a combined 57 saves, both teams capitalized on the power play during regulation time.
Kelowna made Brandon pay when they had a power play late in the first period. Kaeden Korczak and Pavel Novak set up Matthew Wedman who scored his seventh goal of the season with just 16 seconds left in the frame to give Kelowna a 1-0.
Roman Basran made 11 stops in the first for Kelowna, while Jiri Patera made six for Brandon.
The second period brought another goal, but this time it was for the home team. On a power play of their own, Ridly Greig scored his ninth goal of the campaign to tie the score. Chad Nychuk and Ben McCartney drew the assists.
From there, Patera and Basran shut the door. Basran made 13 more saves in the second while Patera had to make just five.
In the third, Patera saved 10 shots and Basran stopped seven attempts. Nothing was solved in overtime as Patera had a single save and Basran made two.
That meant the second point would be decided in the skills competition.
Matthew Wedman, who scored Kelowna’s only regulation goal, also scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Rockets skated off with the extra point.
Kelowna is now 17-8-1-2 and have won the first three games of their road trip. They play in Winnipeg tomorrow before games in Regina on Friday and Moose Jaw on Saturday.
Brandon, meanwhile, dropped to 13-15-1-2. The Wheaties still have a six-point cushion for the second spot in the Eastern Conference wild card.
Wheat Tips…Kelowna went 1-for-4 on the power play while Brandon was 1-for-3…Wedman was solid all over the board. He scored a goal in regulation and he also scored the shootout winner. He also went 12-of-16 in the faceoff circle…Dating back to Nov. 16, the Rockets are 8-0-0-1 as they prepare to host the Memorial Cup.