From December 30 up until January 25, the Brandon Wheat Kings went 10-0-1-0. The lone overtime loss came when the team was up 3-0 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on January 25, before they lost 6-5.
That was the first time Brandon gave up four or more goals since December 27, so it’s safe to say the team was on fire.
Fresh off that defeat against Lethbridge, the Wheat Kings spent a good chunk of time on their charter bus as they made their way out to Alberta for a tough four-game road swing.
Game number one was on Tuesday night and it was perhaps the toughest game of the trip. The Edmonton Oil Kings, who lead the Central Division by a sizeable margin, were set to welcome Brandon to Rogers Place, the home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
It was a game in which Brandon went up 1-0. However, the Oil Kings dominated the majority of the rest of the game as they skated off with a 6-2 win in front of more than 5,000 fans.
“We made some mistakes tonight,” said assistant coach Don MacGillivray courtesy of QCountry post-game show. “We didn’t move the puck well from the back end and we didn’t forecheck as well as we can. They are a good hockey club and they made us work for everything we got.”
As mentioned above, Brandon opened up the scoring. Macdonald, Manitoba’s, Ben McCartney lit the lamp with his 18th marker of the season at the 9:40 mark.
It didn’t take the Oil Kings long to strike back, and when they did, they opened up the flood gates. 13:26 into the contest, Riley Sawchuk sniped home his 21st of the season and the game was deadlocked at one.
With 2:30 left in the first, Sawchuk beat Patera again for his 22nd of the season.
Fun fact Wednesday:
Sawchuk played the first 218 games of his Western Hockey League career with the Tri-City Americans. His best season was last year when he recorded 53 points (20G) in 67 games. On Thursday night against Brandon, Sawchuk netted two goals and added an assist to bring his total on the season to 62 points (22G). That’s an increase of nine points from last year and the Prince Albert native still has more than a dozen games to improve that.
12:00 into the period, Vladimir Alistrov potted his 14th goal to give Edmonton a 3-1 lead and he wasn’t done. Just 4:57 later, he added another marker to put the Oil Kings up 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Brandon did cut into the deficit early in the third. Jake Chiasson beat Beck Warm as Brandon got within two. However, that was as close as the Wheat Kings could get on the evening.
Matthew Robertson and Dylan Guenther scored for Edmonton as they skated to a 6-2 win.
“We can and we have executed much better than we did tonight,” added MacGillivray. “There are lots of areas to improve on. Our guys have played extremely hard to put themselves in this position in the division and we aren’t going to just sneak up on these teams in Alberta.”
Fun fact Wednesday Round Two:
In his first season with Edmonton last year, Guenther had three goals and one assist in eight games. The Edmonton native has clearly continued to thrive off the momentum he built last season. In 44 games this year, Dylan has 41 points (19G).
Edmonton improved to 33-8-6-3 on the season, good for 75 points. They are now tied with the Portland Winterhawks for the most points in the WHL. Portland is 19-0-1-1 in its last 21 games while Edmonton is 7-1-1-1 in the last 10.
Brandon, meanwhile, dropped to 25-18-2-2 and is now just two points ahead of Saskatoon for the third spot in the East Division.
- Edmonton went 1-for-4 on the power play while Brandon went 0-for-3.
- Six Edmonton players had at least two points on the night, led by Sawchuk and Alistrov who both had two goals.
- Beck Warm won his 14th game of the season while Patera dropped his eighth game in regulation.