The Brandon Wheat Kings (11-2-1-0) added two points to their first place ranking atop the Western Hockey League East Division on Wednesday night, beating the Swift Current Broncos (3-10-1-0 ) 3-1 at Regina’s Brandt Centre.
The Wheat Kings got the first goal of the game on the power play courtesy of Nate Danielson. The 16-year old forward carried the puck down the right side of the offensive zone and shot a sharp angle shot that ricocheted off Isaac Poulter’s pads and in at 14:55 in the first period.
At 9:40 in the second period, Jake Chiasson built on the lead when he was the beneficiary of a beautiful tic-tac-toe play by Danielson and Chad Nychuk.
“It was a bit of a broken play, I broke up the play and just sort of joined in on the rush,” said Nychuk. “Danni found me in the slot there and I just passed it back door to Chaser and it was a good goal”.
It took the Broncos less than a minute to respond, Aiden Bulych scoring on a 3 on 2 the other way splitting Swift Current’s deficit in half.
With 3:21 left in the second period, Ottawa Senators prospect Ridly Greig sprung a 2 on 1 rush with rookie forward Tyson Zimmer and flicked a pass to Zimmer underneath the stick of the remaining defender. Zimmer put one past a sprawling Poulter for his second goal of the season and a 3-1 Wheat Kings lead.
Zimmer played on a line with Danielson and Rylen Roersma on Wednesday, three 16-year old players drafted in the first round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft by Brandon. The trio showed a great deal of poise for such a young line, Danielson finishing the game with a goal and an assist and Zimmer a goal.
Nychuk scored an empty netter for his second goal of the season to round out a 4-1 final.
“I liked how we played the game tonight,” said Wheat Kings head coach Don MacGillivray. “We had a lull in the second period when they took the play to us and we turned some pucks over but we played with lots of energy and we had lots of chances. Their goalie played outstanding, he played great and gave them a chance to stay in the game.”
Poulter saved 33 of 36 shots in the loss, 16 of which he saw in the first period. He made some key saves along the way that kept the Wheat Kings lead in check, earning him the game’s second star. At the other end of the ice, Connor Ungar earned his third win this season for the Wheat Kings saving 20 of 21 shots.
“Those are tough games to play sometimes,” said MacGillivray. They’re at the bottom of the standings and we’re at the top but they’ve really improved, they’ve got some good players that are starting to come around and they’re going to be a good team down the road. But right now we’re just a little bit ahead of the curve when we play Swift Current”.
The win is the Wheat Kings’ eighth-straight victory dating back to March 24th when they beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 8-2. Jake Chiasson says the team is happy to be winning but they aren’t content yet.
“We have a little funny thing going, we say eight’s a fluke but nine’s a streak. Until we can get the ninth it’s just a fluke right now,” he said with a smile.
Nychuk said the streak is something the team is aware of but they still just appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to play a season of hockey this year, given everything that has gone into making the East Division hub possible.
“It’s obviously more fun when you’re winning but I think everyone really likes it here, it’s a lot of fun, it’s an amazing experience, we’re really lucky to be playing hockey and when we’re winning it’s that much better”.
The Wheat Kings take a day off before looking for their ninth-straight win against the hometown Regina Pats on Friday at 5 PM. The game will be Pats rookie Connor Bedard’s last game of the season before he joins the Canada U18 team for the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas. Bedard has been on top of the league leaderboard for points so far this season.
“He’s a really good player obviously, he’s young,” said Nychuk. “I know our d-core is really motivated to shut him down so we’ve just got to stay on top of him and make him play through you”.
The Wheat Kings have played the Pats twice so far this season, winning 3-2 on March 20th and 7-2 on April 1st.
The game will be available to stream online via WHL Live at www.watch.chl.ca or fans can listen to Brandon Crowe call the game on Q Country 91.5 FM, 880 on the AM dial.