Brandon Wheat Kings

Brandon, MB. — The Brandon Wheat Kings closed out their pre-Christmas Western Hockey League schedule Friday night with a disappointing 3-2 loss to the B.C. Division leading Kamloops Blazers.

Colin Smith’s shorthanded goal at the 3:29 mark of the third period stood up as the game winner as the Blazers improved their record on this week’s 6-game tour of the Eastern Division to 3-2-0.

The Blazers, who close out the trip Saturday night in Moose Jaw, opened the scoring midway through the first period, only to see Wheat Kings left-winger Michael Ferland tie things up two minutes later.

In the second, Kamloops grabbed a 2-1 lead when Brendan Ranford scored a breakaway goal with just over five minutes remaining. But just like the first period, the Wheat Kings bounced back to tie it with less than a minute to play when Darian Dziurzynski’s redirected shot beat Blazers’ netminder Cole Cheveldave to even the score at two through forty minutes of play.

J.C. Lipon scored the first period goal for the Blazers, who have now won ten of their last 12 games.

Wheat Kings’ netminder Brandon Anderson, who was making his fourth straight start in the Brandon goal, made 36 saves including 28 through the first two periods as Kamloops dominated the scoring chances. Since assuming the club’s number one goaltending job from Corbin Boes, who went down last week with a broken hand, Anderson has posted a 3.25 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

With the loss, the Wheat Kings close out the first half of the regular season with a record of 20-14-1-1, good for 42 points and second place in the WHL’s Eastern Division. Brandon is currently six points behind the front running Moose Jaw Warriors and one point ahead of the third place Saskatoon Blades.

Moose Jaw doubled up on the Blades 4-2 in one of the other eight WHL games on Friday night’s menu.

The Wheat Kings will now enjoy a ten day break before returning to action on Wednesday, December 28th against the visiting Regina Pats.