Brandon, MB. – Fresh off a season high seven game Western Hockey League road trip, the Brandon Wheat Kings returned home to the friendly confines of Westoba Place Friday night and scored a 6-3 victory over the Central Division leading Red Deer Rebels.
Captain Stelio Mattheos scored his 100th career WHL goal and rookie netminder Jiri Patera turned aside 40 shots as the Wheat Kings improved to 9-4-3-2 before over 4,100 enthusiastic fans.
A Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect, Patera was excellent Friday, especially in the first when he stopped seven shots as Brandon successfully killed off a 5-minute major to Linden McCorrister, as well as in the third when he turned aside fifteen of 16 Red Deer shots.
The 19-year old netminder, who has started fifteen of Brandon’s 18 games this season, improved his record to 8-4-2-1. He remains among the league leaders with an impressive 2.85 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
For Mattheos, who was the club’s TELUS Player of the Month for September / October, Friday’s 3-point effort gives him 213 points in 206 career games as a Wheat King. The 19-year old Winnipegger, who represented the Wheat Kings at this week’s CIBC Canada-Russia Series, continues to lead Brandon in scoring with seventeen goals and 31 points in eighteen games.
After a scoreless first period Red Deer opened the scoring early in the second with two goals, 11 seconds apart but the Wheat Kings responded with three unanswered to take a one goal lead into the third.
Brandon added to its lead in the third and after the Rebels made it 5-3 with three minutes to play, the Wheat Kings added an empty net insurance marker to close out the scoring.
Luka Burzan, Ben McCartney, Marcus Sekundiak, Lynden McCallum and Neithan Salame – with his first ever WHL goal – rounded out the scoring for the Wheat Kings, who played without veteran Connor Gutenberg as he served a one game suspension for a controversial 5-minute major that he received last Saturday night in Kelowna.
Having to play without Gutenberg and McCorrister, who was assessed a charging major five minutes in the first period, Wheat Kings coach David Anning was happy to see his club battle hard for this one.
“Once we did get going, I thought we played a fast game,” he told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “I thought we started to take over in the second, we drew three penalties as a result…we played in the offensive zone and scored three goals in a row to get back on track. It was a good response by our bench. We stuck with it.”
Friday’s game was the first of a 6-game home stand for the Wheat Kings, who not only sent the fans home happy, two of their special ticket promotions kick in on Saturday. Not only will ticket holders have the chance to order pizza online at Dominos for 50% off (using the Promo Code WK5), fans can save 6 cents off per litre at Heritage Co-op.
Brandon returns to the ice Sunday afternoon when the Tri-City Americans pay their first visit to Brandon in two years. The Americans had their six game winning streak snapped Friday night when they fell 5-1 to the Pats in Regina.
Tickets to Sunday’s annual Remembrance Day game, which will feature a special salute to Manitoba Minor Hockey – presented by Koch Fertilizer – go back on sale at 10am Saturday at the Keystone Centre box office.
Fans are encouraged to get their tickets early for this one as the box office won’t open until 1pm Sunday, with puck drop scheduled for 2:30pm.
Tickets can also be ordered online at keystonecentre.com or by calling (204) 726-3555.