For most of the two days the Brandon Wheat Kings spent in the Gas City between games, they were treated to bright sunshine and mild November temperatures.
However, as the Wheaties approached the Canalta Centre Tuesday to face the Tigers, snow was falling and a cold prairie wind was blowing hard. But just in case the Medicine Hat Tigers were whipping up a cool reception, it became apparent the visitors were having none of it.
Medicine Hat entered the contest as the highest scoring team in the Western Hockey League, but the Wheat Kings played a perfect road game, coming away with a 4-0 victory.
After a scoreless opening frame, Brandon got on the scoreboard midway through the second stanza.
Chad Nychuk hit Lynden McCallum in full flight with a pass through the neutral zone, the Wheaties winger blew past a Tigers defender and drove the net. Mads Sogaard denied McCallum but Ridly Greig chipped the rebound into the open net for his fifth of the season.
Sogaard was playing in front of his father, step-mother and two young siblings, who have made the trek to Medicine Hat from their home in Denmark.
Greig from Lethbridge, also has WHL family ties. He is the son of Mark Greig, a veteran of 227 WHL games as a member of the Hurricanes.
When defenceman Neithan Salame took a feed from Duncan Pierce at the Tigers blue line, he walked in all alone on Sogaard and beat the Danish goaltender at 14:06. Salame’s tally, his second of the season, came while the Wheaties had an extra attacker on the ice, with a delayed penalty call coming against the Tigers.
Medicine Hat’s penalty troubles led to the Wheat Kings third goal of the game.
Brandon began the final frame with 28 seconds remaining in a power play, courtesy of Nick McCarry’s delay of game penalty late in the second period. Just 22 seconds after McCarry’s minor expired, Medicine Hat rearguard Daniel Baker was sent off for interference.
At 1:11, 21 seconds into Baker’s minor, Luka Burzan drifted a one-timer through Sogaard’s pads to make it 3-0.
At 17:49, Brandon tallied another power-play goal, when Burzan added his second. The play required review from the video official, but after a quick look, the puck clearly had crossed the goal line behind Sogaard.
Medicine Hat actually carried the play for much of the third period, out shooting Brandon 18-8, but they couldn’t solve Ethan Kruger. The Wheat Kings netminder earned his second shutout of the campaign, and for only the second time this season Brandon won back-to-back games.
Brandon now has a 9-3 record in games when leading after 40 minutes, while the Tigers drop to 4-6-1 when trailing after two periods.
Brandon (11-13) improved its penalty killing numbers, which were already among the WHL’s best coming into the game at third best with 86.7% proficiency through its first 23 games.
The Tigers entered the affair with the top producing power play in the league, along with the Portland Winterhawks, at 25.3% through 21 games.
Around the WHL…Other Central Division teams in action Tuesday were the Swift Current Broncos (5-11-1-2), which earned a 2-1 verdict in Regina over the Pats in a game that was re-scheduled from Nov. 8 by the WHL after a maintenance issue at the Brandt Centre resulted in the ice surface becoming unsafe and unplayable. The Pats are 3-13-2…The Edmonton Oil Kings (14-4-3-2) played in Prince George and beat the Cougars 3-2, to inch ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes (14-6-0-3) atop the Central Division standings.
Ice Chips…The Tigers were also shut out of the three star selections on home ice, as the awards went in order to Kruger, Burzan and Salame…Nychuk is on a four-game point scoring streak for the Wheat Kings…Greig also added an assist…Gutenburg collected a goal and an assist…The Tigers were 0-for-3 on the power play, while Brandon went 2-for-5…The Tigers (14-7-1) outshot Brandon 32-30…Medicine Hat scratched C Bryan Lochner, who was nicked up against Red Deer Friday…The Tigers have played nine of its 22 games on home ice…According to Tigers legendary play-by-play man Bob Ridley, both the Wheat Kings and Tigers have accumulated more than 1,800 wins over the course of their respective tenures as member teams in the WHL…Next home game for the Tigers is Friday when the Moose Jaw Warriors make their first visit to Canalta Centre. Puck drop is 7:00pm.
Tigers Tales…A terrific opinion piece by Bob Ridley during the broadcast. The legendary play-by-play voice spoke to an oft asked question about his favourite and non-favourite WHL arenas…While speaking about Canalta Centre, Ridley said, “I wonder how long it will take to develop its own personality and will it eventually have the same exuberance as the old (Medicine Hat) Arena?”…Prospera Place in Kelowna garnered a thumbs-down, due to the placement of cameras that hinder the view of the visiting broadcasters. “You almost have to make up half the game,” he opined…Another non-favourite? Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum because “you are placed in an open booth among the fans. They can be merciless on visiting broadcasters with bad language and items being tossed your way, like popcorn and pop.”
Penalties: BRN McCartney (holding) 3:12; BRN Greig (tripping) 5:37; MH Sillinger (boarding) 14.39; MH Van Impe (tripping) 19:47
1. BRN Greig 5 (McCallum, Nychuk) 9:37. 2. BRN Salame 2 (Pierce, Thorpe) 14:06
Penalties: MH McCarry (delay of game) 18:32
3. BRN Burzan 11 (Gutenberg, McCartney) 1:11 (PP). 4. Burzan 12 (Greig, Gutenberg) 17:49 (PP)
Penalties: MH Baker (interference) :50; BRN Salame (interference) 12:04; MH Van Impe (interference) 17:06
Shots on Goal: MH: 5/9/18: 32. BRN: 9/13/8: 30.
Goaltenders: MH: Sogaard (60:00) 26/30. BRN: Kruger (60:00) 32/32.