The Brandon Wheat Kings opened their 2016 Memorial Cup experience with a 5-3 loss to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in a battle of the Western Hockey League champions versus the champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
John Quenneville had a goal in the loss, played at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta.
Brandon actually grabbed the early lead when Reid Duke scored (assists to James Shearer and Tim McGauley) at 2:44 of the first period.
But from there, the Quebec champions opened the flood gates. The Huskies tied things up when Anthony-John Greer beat Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny off assists to Jeremy Lauzon and Jacob Neveu. Rouyn-Noranda would triple up their lead before the first period expired.
First, Gabriel Fontaine scored from Denis Bruno-Carl and Alexandre Fortin at 18:33 to move it to 2-1. Then, one minute and three seconds later, Timo Meier scored his first of two from Allan Caron and Francis Perron to make it 3-1.
The second period would see Brandon get into some penalty trouble. Jordan Thomson was nabbed for roughing at 7:36 and the Wheat Kings were able to kill that off. But then, at 10:09, Jayce Hawryluk received a double minor for high sticking that would lead to the Huskies netting the game winner at 13:29. That goal came off the stick of Philippe Myers (with Perron and Nikolas Brouillard getting the assists). It was now 4-1, Huskies.
But the Huskies were not done. At 17:10 of the second period, Meier lit the lamp a second time (this time from Fortin and Perron) to make it 5-1. Although that would be it for Rouyn-Noranda’s scoring, it would be enough.
The Wheat Kings would score at 8:07 of the third period when Tyler Coulter scored with Linden McCorrister and Nolan Patrick, who led the WHL playoffs in scoring, getting their first points of the tournament in the form of assists. It was now 5-2 and Brandon was slowly crawling their way back into the game.
Then, late in the third, at 12:14, Devils’ draft pick Quenneville got his first goal of the Memorial Cup tournament. Ivan Provorov and Macoy Erkamps had the assists. It was 5-3 and, though Brandon would go on the power play late (Rouyn-Noranda’s Allan Caron was called for tripping with just over four minutes left in the game), that was how it would stay.
So Quenneville’s final stat line saw him with a goal, four shots on goal and two penalty minutes (he took a tripping minor very early in the third period) and three of four faceoffs won.
Brandon outshot Rouyn-Noranda 41 to 29 and Jordan Papirny made 24 saves. At the other end of the rink, the Huskies’ Chase Marchand made 38 saves.
The Wheat Kings next suit up in the round-robin portion of the tournament on Monday against the London Knights, champions of the Ontario Hockey League.