The Portland Winterhawks are no doubt the hottest team in the Western Hockey League. On Friday night, the team extended its point streak to an incredible 20 games by scoring eights goals in an 8-2 thumping of the Tri-City Americans.
Nearly 1,400 miles from Portland is where you will find Brandon, Manitoba — a city that is home to the Brandon Wheat Kings and the second hottest team in the league.
Entering Friday’s game against the Victoria Royals, the Wheat Kings were in search of their 10th straight victory. It wouldn’t come easy as the Royals came in as one of the best teams in the league, but nothing was stopping Brandon.
Scoring four goals in less than five minutes to end the first period, the Wheat Kings ended up skating to a 6-3 win against Victoria to pick up their 10th straight win.
Jiri Patera continued his dominance in net for Brandon as he made 45 saves to secure the win.
“We were very lucky to be up after the first period. Our goaltender was very good and he allowed us to stick around in the game,” said Dave Lowry, head coach, after the game courtesy of wheatkings.com. “We tried giving the game away at times, but we ended up locking things down and getting it done.”
Ridly Greig opened the scoring with his 16th of the season at the 15:23 mark. That goal was the start of a magnificent remainder of the period offensively. Just 30 seconds later, Lynden McCallum also scored his 16th of the season as Brandon went up 2-0.
With 1:31 left in the first, Cole Reinhardt tallied his 23rd of the season to give the Wheat Kings a 3-0 lead. They weren’t done.
With just five seconds left in the first, Luka Burzan notched his team-leading 25th of the season to put Brandon up 4-0 after 20 minutes of play.
“I think we did a really good job of getting pucks deep and getting in on their defence,” said Luka Burzan.
Patera was a perfect 12-for-12 in the opening frame. In the second, things were different as play favoured Victoria.
15:27 in, Gary Haden scored his 16th as Victoria got within three. Just 2:12 later, Kaid Oliver trimmed the deficit in half with his 14th of the season as the Royals trailed 4-2 after 40. Tarun Fizer had an assist on both goals.
Patera was still solid in the second as he made 18 saves. Shane Farkas started the game for Victoria, but he was pulled with 1:31 left in the first. Adam Evanoff ended up making 23 saves on 26 shots during his time.
Brandon got right back on the offence in the third and sealed things in the process. 7:34 into the frame, Vincent Iorio scored his second of the season to put Brandon up 5-2. Luka Burzan then scored his second of the game to give Brandon a 6-2 lead at the 13:16 mark.
Brayden Tracey notched his 18th of the season at the 14:27 mark, but it wasn’t near enough for Victoria who dropped a 6-3 game.
The win improved Brandon’s record to 25-17-1-2. Their 53 points are three behind Prince Albert for the East Division lead.
Victoria, meanwhile, dropped to 25-16-3. However, they are still second in the B.C. Division, six points up on Kelowna for the spot, and they’re 12 behind Kamloops for the top spot.
Brandon remains at Westoba Place on Saturday for a game against Lethbridge. Victoria, meanwhile, continues its trip with a stop in Winnipeg to play the ICE.
- Victoria was very efficient on the man advantage, going 3-for-6. Brandon, meanwhile, went 1-for-5.
- Of goalies that have played 25 or more games, Patera is fourth in save percentage with a very solid .928.