Brandon Wheat Kings

Calgary, AB. — The Brandon Wheat Kings hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference is down to just a four point lead on the Red Deer Rebels following a 7-2 loss in Calgary Wednesday night.

Brooks Macek scored three times and set up another as the red hot Hitmen won for the 11th time in their last twelve games.

The Wheat Kings meanwhile are now 3-8-0-1 in their last twelve and have been unable to win back to back games for the past two months. Brandon kicked off this week’s 4-game western road trip with a 1-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook.

To make matters worse for the Wheat Kings, who have qualified for post season play for eleven straight years, the Rebels doubled up on the visiting Vancouver Giants 4-2 on Wednesday. After facing the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday, Brandon will close out this week’s excursion with a date with the Rebels on Saturday night.

“I thought after (Tuesday’s) game, we’d be really good again today but it just wasn’t our night,” Brandon assistant coach Darren Ritchie told Bruce Luebke on CKLQ’s post-game show, “We had an early power-play, got nothing on it, didn’t generate anything and from there on, we weren’t very good at all.”

Victor Rask scored once and set up two others for the winners, who led 3-0 and 6-0 at the period breaks. In fact, Calgary took a 7-0 lead four minutes into the final frame en route to the one-sided win.

Alessio Bertaggia and Kevin Sundher – with his second goal in as many nights – replied for the Wheat Kings, who were outshot 3110-25 including 17-8 in the second period when the Hitmen wound up chasing starting netminder Corbin Boes from the net. An 18-year old Saskatoon product, Boes was back in goal for the first time since early December when he broke his hand. The Brandon netminder, who began the game with a goals against average of 2.110110, surrendered five goals on 21 shots before being lifted in favor or rookie Curtis Honey.

Brandon has now given up 11104 goals in fifty games, fifth worst in the WHL. Only Everett, Victoria, Lethbridge and Prince Albert have allowed more.

As a result of Wednesday’s loss, the Wheat Kings record slips to 24-23-1-2.