Guided by leading scorer Tim McGauley, the Brandon Wheat Kings sent four pucks into the Kootenay Ice cage in the third period to score a come-from-behind 5-3 victory at Western Financial Place Friday night.
“We were playing our game at the start of the first two periods and we sort of sat back in the third and let them play their game,” said Kootenay Ice forward Levi Cable Friday night. “Tomorrow, we need to come out and play our game all throughout the whole game.
“We had a strong start. Everyone was going. Our passing was on and we were getting pucks to the net in the first two periods. We need to continue that and keep going to the net. Good things will happen.”
Trailing 3-1 heading into the final 20 minutes of play, Quintin Lisoway kickstarted the Wheat Kings come back 4:15 into the third period with his eighth goal of the season.
But it was Eric Roy and McGauley doing the deepest damage that ultimately killed the Kootenay Ice.
Roy tied the game 3-3 with his fourth goal of the season after grabbing a rebound out of the air, dropping it to his stick and quickly finding twine behind a helpless Wyatt Hoflin at the 7:33 mark of the third period.
On the ensuing face-off, the Wheat Kings controlled the puck and carried into Kootenay Ice territory. From there, defenceman Colton Waltz let go of a long point shot and a cruising McGauley redirected it past Hoflin for a 4-3 Brandon Wheat Kings lead. It was the first time the Wheat Kings led in the game.
The two tallies from Roy and McGauley came over the course of a lightning-quick 15 seconds.
A double-minor penalty to Ice defenceman Troy Murray was the final dagger in the home team. Murray’s discretion came with 4:39 remaining in regulation, leaving the Ice to play shorthanded for all but the final 39 seconds of regulation.
McGauley added an empty-net tally, his 33rd of the season, to finish the night off.
The third period collapse came after a strong 40 minutes of play from the Ice.
In the first period, Tim Bozon and Luke Philp gave the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
After Braylon Shmyr got the Wheat Kings on the board, cutting the Ice lead to 2-1, Cable responded with his 23rd of the campaign to restore the two-goal edge. But that’s all the scoring the Ice would do on the night.
Hoflin made 28 stops in a losing effort, while Wheat Kings goaltender Jordan Papirny finished with 23 stops to earn his league-leading 32nd victory of the season.
McGauley finished the night with two goals and an assist. Roy also had a multi-point effort with a goal and an assist. Kale Clague and Waltz both tallied two assists for the Wheat Kings.
Ice forward Jaedon Descheneau tallied the 250th point of his WHL career, assisting on Philp’s first-period marker.
Ice defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky was the only skater from the home team to record a multi-point night, tallying two assists.
The Prince George Cougars did the Ice a favour Friday night, defeating the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-2, keeping the Ice one point up on the Oil Kings for the first wildcard seed in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
“Every two points matter a lot now — they always did all season — but now they’re magnified if you win or lose,” Cable said. “These next 20-some games we’ve got are going to be huge for us.”
The Kootenay Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings go head-to-head again Saturday night, with puck drop set from 7 p.m. at Western Financial Place.
“We want to redeem ourselves,” Cable said. “We know we can beat these guys, as we showed through the first two periods. It’s going to be exciting coming out [Saturday] and getting a chance to do it again.”
Notes: The Kootenay Ice scratched D Bryan Allbee, D Dylan Overdyk, F Austin Wellsby and D Tanner Faith (shoulder, four to six months) Friday night…the Brandon Wheat Kings went without G Alex Moodie (upper body), D Mark Taraschuk, F Jayce Hawryluk (upper body), F John Quenneville (upper body) and D Mark Matsuba…Wheat Kings D Macoy Erkamps skated in the 250th game of his WHL career on Friday