Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon, MB. — An outstanding goaltending performance from Brandon Anderson wasn’t enough Friday night as the Saskatoon Blades salvaged the back half of this week’s 2-game Western Hockey League series with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.
Anderson made 43 saves and gave Brandon an excellent opportunity to win back to back games for the first time since early December but it wasn’t to be as the Wheat Kings record slipped to 23-21-1-2 on the season.
After a first period that saw both teams trade goals, Michael Burns powerplay goal in the second gave the home team a 2-1 advantage through forty minutes of play.
In the third, Kyle Schmidt scored what turned out to be the game winner with just over three minutes remaining in regulation time – only to see Michael Ferland pull the Wheat Kings back to within a goal 37 seconds later.
Winnipeg’s Nick Zajac scored Saskatoons other goal while Brandon captain Mark Stone fired his 31st of the season in a losing cause.
Rookie Alex Moodie turned aside 33 shots for the win, after giving up six in a 6-4 loss to Brandon on Wednesday night.
Despite the loss, assistant coach Darren Ritchie was encouraged by what he saw from the Wheat Kings this week.
“It shows our guys care, the care about each other, they want to win for each other. Our bench has been excellent that last two nights, just the emotion with the guys and keeping thing positive,” Ritchie told CKLQ’s Bruce Luebke on Friday night’s post-game show. “It’s progress, and right now we’re going the right way.”
The Wheat Kings, who have not won two straight games since beating Vancouver and Red Deer on November 30th and December 2nd, have now lost eight of their last ten games and currently sit six points up on the Rebels for the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Division. Red Deer also has three games in hand on the Wheat Kings, who have compiled a 2-6-0-1 record in the month of January.
Brandon returns home Saturday night to play their fourth and final home game of the month, against the defending WHL Champion Kootenay Ice at Westman Communications Group Place. Following that game, the Wheat Kings will go back on the road for four straight games, beginning Tuesday night in Cranbrook.
Tickets to Saturday’s game go back on sale Saturday morning at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at ticketmaster.ca. Saturday is also another $48 Wheat Kings Source for Sports-Subway Family Night. The Wheat Kings’ Family Packages are available only at Brandon Source for Sports.