Brandon, MB. – A quick start and a 47 save performance from goaltender Jiri Patera wasn’t enough Tuesday night as the visiting Portland Winterhawks edged the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-3 on a cold and miserable Tuesday night.
Ben McCartney scored twice in the opening four minutes to give the Wheat Kings a quick 2-0 lead but Portland scored on two of 22 shots in the first to even the score and after grabbing its first lead of the game in the second, went ahead 4-2 on a shorthanded goal midway through the third.
Defenceman Braden Schneider’s goal with just over five minutes remaining pulled the Wheat Kings to within a goal but despite pulling Patera, who was making his third straight start since returning from the World Junior Hockey Championship, the home side was unable to score the equalizer.
Jaydon Dureau had a goal and an assist to pace the winners with singles coming off the sticks of Joachim Blichfeld, Seth Jarvis and Michal Krasnica.
With the loss – Brandon’s sixth in seven games since the Christmas break – the Wheat Kings record slipped to the .500 mark at 16-16-3-3.
Portland meanwhile improved to 24-11-3-2 and remains second in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division.
Brandon’s Ben McCartney says losing another on home ice was a tough pill to swallow.
“I thought we had a really good start and then we got loose as the game went on,” McCartney told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun following the game. “We had times when we were tight and then we weren’t and it cost us. I thought our team played pretty well, just little mistakes cost us.”
For the second straight game, the Wheat Kings were unable to ice an overage player as Linden McCorrister was out with the flu.
The game was also played less than two days before the WHL Trade Deadline, which comes up at 4pm Manitoba time on Thursday.
The Wheat Kings next action is Friday night – Enns Brothers Salute to 4-H Night – when the Red Deer Rebels pay a visit.
Tickets to the game go back on sale Wednesday morning at the Keystone Centre box office, online at keystonecentre.com or by calling (204) 726-3555.
Photo Courtesy of Brandi Pollock