EDMONTON, AB — The Edmonton Oil Kings gave everything they had in Game 5 versus the Brandon Wheat Kings but ultimately fell short losing 5-2 Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 5,149.
The Oil Kings goals came from Dario Meyer and Tyson Gruninger and Payton Lee was excellent stopping 28 of 31 shots but the Wheat Kings started fast and held on from there to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals best-of-seven.
“Our first period we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” said head coach Steve Hamilton. “Then we caught a little traction in the second period. We got more physical and got more involved. Certainly puck possession changed a little bit. Our face-offs have been something that’s struggled this series. It’s tough to get things started when you have to chase the puck all the time.”
John Quenneveille, who has been a thorn in the Oil Kings side this series, opened the scoring 4:01 into the game. On a mad scramble in front of Lee he was able to bang in his 4th of the playoffs.
Edmonton started the game rather slow again as they took to the midway mark of the opening frame to register a shot on goal. They put four more on net on their only powerplay of the period but were unable to solve Jordan Papirny.
Brandon jumped to a 2-0 lead when Stelio Mattheos scored his first of the playoffs but the Oil Kings answered back with the Swiss winger Meyer taking a nice Colton Kehler feed and beating Papirny. Meyer’s goal, his first of the postseason, was on the powerplay.
Defenceman Jordan Thomson also got his first this postseason when his wrist shot from the point found its way past a crowd in front of Lee. That would prove to be the insurance goal of the game as Gruninger dances his way in and buried one top shelf midway through the third, but that’s as close as they would come as Brandon shut the door from there. Reid Duke and Jace Hawryluk would score with an empty net in the final minute to make it 5-2.
The Oil Kings were perfect on the penalty kill going 4/4. They fired 24 shots on Papirny but the Edmonton product turned aside all but two leading Brandon to their third straight victory over Edmonton. Lee had to stop over 30 shots, many of them of a difficult nature.
“Payton was good for us tonight,” said Hamilton. “He gave us a solid outing. Early we were floundering a bit then we got better and he gave us a chance to do that so credit to him.”
“Our guys are resilient. This is a tall order, but what the heck, we have nothing else going on Tuesday so let’s show up and play hard and see if we can’t take it to 7.”
The series shift back to Manitoba for Game 6 (Tuesday, 7pm MT, TSN 1260) where the Oil Kings will be in a must-win situation. Game 7, if necessary, will be Wednesday at 7pm MT in Brandon.