Binghamton Devils Edged By Phantoms in AHL Action

The NHL Network today aired a special American Hockey League game featuring the Binghamton Devils at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The Devils fell by a score of 5-3 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I figured I would give a little bit of a recap here on the blog since it was Devils related.

The game was a lot closer than the score looked, as the Phantoms took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute left in the game and then added an empty netter to top things off.

Lehigh Valley got the scoring kicked off when Cole Bardreau scored at 3:19 into the first period with assists to James de Haas and Radel Fazleev. Nick Lappin tied things up from Steven Santini and Kevin Rooney at 6:08. That made it 1-1 going into the first intermission.

That first period was played penalty free, which would not be the case later in the game, as both teams beat a path to the penalty box throughout the final two periods. The thing was, both team’s power play units would respond and put the puck in the net when they had to.

It started when Philippe Myers took a tripping call at 7:42 of the second. John Quenneville converted on that one at 9:41 from Jacob MacDonald and Christoph Bertschy. That was Quenneville’s eleventh AHL goal of the year and put Binghamton up 2-1.

The Devils, however, would take a penalty when Jan Mandat went off for tripping at 10:10. Three seconds into that penalty kill, Josh Jacobs of the Devils would go off for high sticking, giving Lehigh Valley a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Will O’Neill of the Phantoms would oblige on that one, scoring from Myers and Danick Martel at 11:56. The game was now tied up at two and that is where it would stand going into the second break.

A rare, at this point, even strength goal was scored 8:02 into the third period when Lehigh Valley’s Mikhail Vorobyev notched his eighth of the year from Reece Willcox and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to put the Phantoms up 3-2.

But this game was so back-and-forth that things would not remain that way for very long. At 13:07, Aube-Kubel was called for boarding, putting the Devils on the power play. Lappin would score his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage, getting assists from MacDonald and Bertschy and tying things at three.

That was where it would stay until, with 59 seconds left in the game, and things seemingly headed to overtime, Mike Vecchione was the hero for Lehigh Valley. He scored from Colin McDonald and Willcox to put the Phantoms up 4-3.

That goal was reviewed to see if the puck was kicked in by Vecchione, but the replay confirmed the call on the ice: it was a good goal. Lehigh Valley had the lead and the Devils quickly pulled their goaltender, Eddie Lack, for the extra attacker with about 45 seconds left in the contest.

The Phantoms added an empty net goal from Phil Varone (assists to McDonald and Bardreau) at 19:53 and that was all she wrote at 5-3.

Binghamton got good goaltending from Lack, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots against. Lehigh Valley also had the empty netter, making their shot total 28 for the game. The Phantoms’ Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves on 26 shots.

On the power play, the Devils were a perfect 2-for-2 while Lehigh Valley was 1-for-4.

Lappin, with his two goals and four shots on goal (which led Binghamton) was awarded the second star of the game. Jacob MacDonald of the Devils also had two points (both assists), as did Christoph Bertschy.

This game was a battle of two teams going in two different directions. Lehigh Valley is looking for their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth while Binghamton has been struggling in their first season in their new surroundings. They relocated this past offseason from Albany to Binghamton, where they replaced the Binghamton Senators – who moved to Belleville, Ontario.

The Devils are in sixth place in the seven team North Division while the Phantoms stand at first place overall in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms actually have more points than the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, but Toronto has four games in hand and has already clinched a playoff spot in the North Division despite that.

Devils Blow Out Sens; Shut Out by Isles

It was a tale of two games for the Devils tonight. They played two split-squad games, one at Summerside, Prince Edward Island in the Kraft Hockeyville Canada game against the Ottawa Senators and one that started an hour later at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York against the New York Islanders. They came away 1-1 on the night, beating the Senators 8-1 and losing to the Islanders, 3-0.

Now, obviously, the Devils had their “A” team playing at the Credit Union Place in PEI while the “JV,” so to speak, was playing down the North American coast in Brooklyn. But both games showed some very interesting things for fans to take in and digest.

Full disclosure: I did not get to see the game in Canada due to it being blacked out regionally down here on the NHL Network. I am again going by what I could scrounge up from the Internet. I did get to see the Islander game, as it was televised locally on MSG+, however.

Let’s start with the good news, shall we? The Devils defeated the Sens, 8-1 after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. According to Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website in her “10 Takeaways” column, Marcus Johansson scored “less than two minutes into the game.” She also said that Johansson had four points on the night, as he also had three assists.

Drew Stafford, Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville each had two goals for John Hynes’ squad while Nico Hischier also added one to give the Devils the boost. The Devils had a 7-0 lead when Mike Condon was relieved in goal by Andrew Hammond (a preseason thing, he was not chased, apparently).

Speaking of the goaltenders, Cory Schneider played the whole game and made 20 saves on 21 shots faced.

Meanwhile, in New York….

Geoff Ward was coaching the Devils’ “B” team and things did not go as smoothly against the Islanders. They fell 3-0, falling into some penalty trouble and being smothered in the shots on goal department.

Keith Kinkaid, the Long Island-native, made the start and played the entire game for New Jersey. He made 42 saves on 44 shots against. With an empty net goal, the Islanders would finish with 45 shots on goal. For New York, Thomas Greiss started and also played the whole game. He made 25 saves in the Islanders’ shut out win.

The Islanders took the early lead just 1:11 into the game when Brock Nelson scored from Josh Ho-Sang and Johnny Boychuk. Just that suddenly, it was 1-0 Isles and that was all they needed.

At the 12:02 mark of the first, the Devils’ Ben Thomson took on the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield in a good scrap that brought some energy to the game.

Then, at the 13:54 mark of the first, Joseph Blandisi was called for slashing, a not uncommon sight in this preseason with the crackdown on slashing, and the Islanders went on the power play. Mathew Barzal would score a nice goal, using his speed to slice through the Devils defense and making a good move around Kinkaid to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. John Tavares had the lone assist on the goal. That goal made New York 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils finished the night 0-for-1.

Late in the first period, a scary moment occurred when Michael McLeod of the Devils was helped off of the ice with an apparent leg injury. He was favoring his left leg and would not return.

The Devils’ best period was the second when they actually outshot New York and really tested Greiss. They missed on a 3-on-1 late in the period and he stopped Jimmy Hayes on a nice chance late in the period too.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid with a little over a minute left in the game and Johnny Boychuk would score the empty netter from Nikolay Kulemin and Cal Clutterbuck to put the game away at 18:41.

In the end, the Devils were outshot 45 to 25 and lost 52-percent of their faceoffs. But those were the only places where the Devils were outplayed on the stat sheet. They out hit the Islanders, 29 to 24, had 15 blocked shots to 13 for New York and only gave away the puck four times to the Isles’ 11.

In the end, despite losing in Brooklyn (and getting blanked to boot), the Devils outscored their opponents on the night, 8-4, which is a good sign for the big squad and gives Devils fans some optimism as they head into the season. They just may have opened some eyes in Canada.

Next up, the Devils head south to Washington on Wednesday for their final game of the preseason. That game will be televised on MSG+ and we will have a recap here for you.

A-Devils Ousted From Playoffs in Triple OT Epic

An era came to an end as the Albany Devils skated into the Ricoh Coliseum for game three of their first round playoff series against the Toronto Marlies. They fell, 2-1 in three overtimes, losing the series, three games to one and putting an end to the current era of Devils AHL hockey in the New York state capital.

Travis Dermott got the scoring underway at the 8:55 mark of the first period with assists to Kerby Rychel and Justin Holl. That would be Toronto’s last goal for about the next 100 minutes.

The Devils tied things up with a goal from Carter Camper, his second of the playoffs, assists to John Quenneville and Ben Sexton. The game was tied at one and that was the end of the scoring until the 6:43 mark of the third overtime, when Holl scored from Frederik Gauthier and Brendan Leipsic. That goal won the game for the Marlies and sent Toronto into the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The A-Devils had a chance to end things in the first overtime, when Toronto’s Rinat Vallev received a double minor for high sticking at the 12:52 mark. Albany would have four minutes to work with, but the Marlies killed it off, essentially sending the game into the second OT period. Overall, Albany went 0-for-3 on the power play with a single shot while Toronto was 0-for-2 with the extra man, mustering two shots on goal. The Marlies had their shot at ending things in the second OT when Ben Thomson was called for a hooking minor.

The real story of this game was the goaltenders. For the A-Devils, Mackenzie Blackwood made a whopping 58 saves on 60 shots allowed in 106:43 of ice time. He was named the game’s second star for his efforts. For Toronto, Kasimir Kaskisuo made 30 saves on 31 A-Devils shots in getting the win and was named third star of the game. Holl was named the game’s first star with his goal and assist.

So, with that, the Marlies advance deeper into the Calder Cup playoffs and the A-Devils cease to exist. They will move to Binghamton next season. Toronto will likely play the Syracuse Crunch, who defeated the St. John’s IceCaps three games to one, in the next round.

So, congratulations to the Toronto Marlies in a hard fought win and a good series. And good luck to the Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate as they begin their next chapter in a new city next season.

Steelheads Complete Sweep with 7-0 Win

The Mississauga Steelheads took home the Bobby Orr Trophy and will play for the OHL championship as they completed a four game sweep of the Peterborough Petes with a 7-0 win at the Hershey Centre tonight.

Owen Tippett scored from Trent Fox and Devils prospect Nathan Bastian at 8:29 of the first period and that was all they needed.

Ryan McLeod scored at 11:54 of the first with assists to his brother, Devils prospect Michael McLeod and Stefan LeBlanc. From there, the Steelheads got goals from Vili Saarijarvi (2:05 of the second), Jacob Moverare (9:20 of the second), Trent Fox (16:58 of the second), Michael McLeod (33 seconds into the third period) and Brendan Harrogate (17:18 of the third).

Matthew Mancina made 24 saves in getting the shutout, while Dylan Wells made 24 saves on 31 shots for Peterborough. Mancina was named the game’s first star. Saarijarvi was the second star and Fox was the third star.

Michael McLeod’s stat line saw him with the goal and assist for two points, a plus-3 rating and one shot on goal. He won nine of twelve faceoffs taken. Bastian had the assist for one point, was also a plus-3, had three shots on goal and won six of thirteen faceoffs taken.

With this win, the Steelheads claimed the Bobby Orr Trophy as winners of the OHL’s Eastern Conference and will face the winners of the Owen Sound Attack and the Erie Otters, who are battling for the Wayne Gretzky Trophy in the Eastern Conference, the OHL Finals and the chance to go play for the Memorial Cup. Owen Sound currently has a 2-1 series lead with game four being played tonight.

Congratulations to the Mississauga Steelheads and Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian on making it this far and good luck in the next round.

Meanwhile, in the AHL tonight, the Albany Devils and the Toronto Marlies got together in game three at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. That game took an overtime to finish, but the Marlies won 3-2, going up two games to one in their best-of-five first round series.

Brendan Leipsic scored first for Toronto at 3:49 of the first period, with assists to Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott. That put the Marlies up 1-0 in the first before John Quenneville tied things up with assists to Karl Stollery and Ben Sexton. That goal came on the power play, set up when Kapanen went off for tripping at 9:49. The goal came at the 10:16 mark of the first. Albany went 1-for-4 on the power play while Toronto was 0-for-2.

Toronto retook the lead at the 17:59 mark of the second period when Leipsic scored his second of the game from Kapanen and Frederik Gauthier.

That lead only lasted about 23 seconds. At the 18:22 mark, Carter Camper tied it up for the A-Devils (assists to Steve Santini and Blake Pietila). And that was the scoring in regulation.

The game winner came at the 45 second mark of the first OT when Colin Greening scored for the Marlies from Justin Holl to win the game and give Toronto the 2-1 series lead.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood made 22 saves on 25 Toronto shots in the 60:45 of game time. Opposing him, Kasimir Kaskisuo made 27 saves on 29 Albany shots.

Greening was named the game’s first star with the overtime game winning goal. Leipsic was named the second star with his two regulation goals and Kapanen was the third star with two assists.

Game four takes place in Toronto on Friday. The Marlies have a chance to wrap things up then.

Devils Win OT Thriller over Rangers

It is no secret that the New Jersey Devils are no longer in the playoff hunt. Their ten game skid back in late February/early March made sure of that. But they were playing the New York Rangers at Prudential Center tonight and you just had to know that the Devils would be up for this one. The Devils were at risk of getting swept by the Rangers in the season series for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

But they were not, getting a 3-2 overtime win over their Hudson River rivals. The two teams last met back on February 25 at Prudential Center and it was a barnburner that New York won in overtime. If this game was even half as exciting as that one, then the fans would be in for a good one.

In some roster movements, Miles Wood was back in after missing the Columbus game on Sunday with an injury. He would go on to play a big part in tonight’s game. The Devils are still without Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly due to injury. Cammalleri and Josefson have skated on their own but have not been cleared yet. Smith-Pelly is not skating yet and the word is that none of the three are close to returning. Blake Pietila and Dalton Prout were New Jersey’s healthy scratches.

Missing the game for the Rangers were Tanner Glass, Steven Kampfer, Kevin Klein, Brandon Pirri and Matt Puempel.

Another injured player for the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, who is missing with a hip injury. He has been out for the last five games. Due to this the goaltending matchup saw Antii Raanta go for the Rangers and Cory Schneider get between the pipes for the Devils. Raanta made 25 saves on 28 Devils shots for a .893 save percentage. Schneider made 38 saves on 40 Ranger shots for a .950 save percentage. Both goalies were amazing at times and kept the game in check.

On another note, 18 year-old Shane Daneyko, the son of “Mr. Devil” Ken Daneyko, sang the national anthem prior to the game. MSG+ aired his performance and he did a great job. Congratulations to both Daneykos, as I am sure that Ken is very proud of son Shane right now.

The first period saw no scoring but did see a total of 25 shots. The Rangers peppered Cory with 14 while the Devils scattered 11.

The game really kicked off in the second period. At 14:46, the Rangers’ Brendan Smith was called for tripping Beau Bennett. The Devils went on the power play and the young guys took over. The puck wound around to Pavel Zacha and he sent it down low to Joseph Blandisi. Blandisi then centered it to John Quenneville at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. He tapped it home for his first NHL goal and gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. Congratulations to John Quenneville on his first NHL goal and here’s hoping it is the first of many. That goal came at 15:16. The Devils 1-for-2 on the power play while the Rangers were 1-for-3.

But the Rangers had an answer for that. At 16:53, Oscar Lindberg scored from Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan McDonagh to tie things at one. It was a big period for both teams. Before the second frame was through, the Devils would retake the lead and all hell would break loose.

First the goal. At 18:22, Taylor Hall, who had been shaken up by a big hit after the Quenneville goal but did not leave the bench, took a pass from Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri had grabbed the puck on a nice turnover forced by a forechecking Travis Zajac. Hall received the pass and fired a shot from the same place Quenneville did as he was falling down. The puck went in just under the crossbar, no one really sure if it went in or not (including Hall), but the official signaled the goal and the Devils had taken a 2-1 lead.

After that goal, at 19:43, Wood took a hit from Nick Holden along the stanchion in the glass near the corner of the bench. He did not have the puck and immediately went for Holden when he got up. Three fights broke out on the ice in addition to Wood-Holden: Blake Coleman took on Jimmy Vesey and the Devils’ Nick Lappin also got into a scrap.

When the dust settled, Wood was given a fighting major, a ten minute misconduct and the extra two minute instigator penalty. That would be key, as the Rangers would convert on the power play they got from it. Also, Wood would be missing the first 17 minutes of the third period for the Devils. It showed when the Devils did not have his energy and speed on the ice, spending a good deal of the period in the Rangers’ zone.

The game tying goal came off the stick of Rick Nash off assists from Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei at 1:21 of the third period. This came just moments after Derek Stepan hit the post at the start of the third. The game was now tied at two and the Rangers seemed to be in control. The ice was tilted for much of the third and Mats Zuccarello hit the crossbar off of a faceoff late in the third where the puck was on end and he fired it, getting the iron.

But this game was destined for overtime. And what an overtime period it was! The game winner came at 4:05 of the three-on-three session when, seconds after Cory Schneider made a nice poke check on a Rangers shooter, Quenneville grabbed the puck and rushed up ice with Joseph Blandisi. The two criss-crossed through the neutral zone and, when Quenneville hit the Rangers’ blue line, he looked up and fed Blandisi, who was skating through the slot. Blandisi took the pass and moved to his backhand, beating Raanta to give the Devils a thrilling 3-2 win in overtime.

This goal came minutes after Hall had made a beautiful inside out move through the legs of the Rangers defender, only to be stopped on a save by Raanta.

So the Devils showed a lot tonight against their rivals. They are now a young team that has a lot of potential. They are still on pace to lose the most games a Devils team has lost since the 1988-89 season, but the future looked very bright tonight. The young guys came through when they were needed and they are starting to blossom.

Next up for the Devils is the equally young Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. The Devils will travel up to Air Canada Centre to meet a team that is on the verge of possibly making the playoffs. Fans in Toronto will be very excited, but little can beat tonight’s game. Hopefully the Devils do not have a let down game following one that they were so emotionally invested in.

Two A-Devils Headed to AHL All-Star Game

In other All-Star news, this time from the American Hockey League, the Albany Devils are sending two representatives to the annual all-star gathering in their league.

The AHL All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on January 30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The AHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place the night before at the same venue. The AHL All-Star Game uses a similar format as its NHL equivalent, pitting the league’s four divisions against each other in a round robin style tournament. Each game will be three-on-three and last ten minutes. The difference from the NHL being that there will be six games played and that the championship game will be three-on-three for six minutes. The teams with the two best records following the round robin will face off in the championship game.

The Albany Devils are sending Joe Blandisi and John Quenneville to this year’s festivities. Both will represent the AHL’s North Division, where the A-Devils currently stand in second place behind only the Syracuse Crunch.

Blandisi, who is 22 years-old and has spent some time in the NHL (41 games last season) with the New Jersey Devils, this season is fourth on the A-Devils in points. He has 6 goals and 14 assists for 20 points over 24 games. This is his first AHL All-Star Game.

Quenneville is 20 years-old and is tops on Albany in points (10 goals, 17 assists for 27 points). His goals rank third on the team and his assists are first. The press release put out by the Albany Devils also states that he leads the A-Devils in power play goals, assists and points with 5 PPGs, 9 assists with the extra man for 14 power play points. He has NHL experience in a handful of games played earlier this season. This is his first AHL All-Star Game as well.

Both men will be participating in the festivities barring being called up to the NHL club, which is a real possibility due to the New Jersey Devils’ lack of offensive firepower lately.

Congratulations to both players on this tremendous honor.

Knights Offensive Explosion Hands Wheat Kings Second Loss of Memorial Cup

After holding the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies close in their first loss of the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament, the Brandon Wheat Kings and John Quenneville went into their second game versus the London Knights looking to nail down a “W.”

What they got was shell-shocked in a 9-1 rout at the Enmax Centrium tonight.

The Knights, champions of the Ontario Hockey League, got a hat trick from Christian Dvorak, plus goals from Cliff Pu, Aaron Berisha, Matthew Tkachuk, JJ Piccinich, Max Jones and Daniel Bernhardt. Dvorak’s first and second goals both came on the power play, as did Berisha’s and Bernhardt’s.

Predictably, Dvorak was named the game’s first star. London’s Mitchell Marner was the second as he had four assists and Knights’ defenseman Jacob Graves was the third star as he was a plus-2 on the night.

Brandon’s lone goal came from Stelio Mattheos at 6:26 of the second period. Ivan Provorov and John Quenneville had the assists on the goal.

Brandon went through two goalies: Jordin Papirny, who started and Logan Thompson, who came in for the third period. The goaltenders combined to make 22 saves on 31 London shots. Amazingly, the Wheat Kings actually outshot the Knights with 36 shots. London goaltenders Tyler Parsons and Brendan Burke (who played the final 12:22 of the game) made 35 saves.

Quenneville’s stat line read: one assist, a minus-3 plus/minus rating and four shots on net. He won the only faceoff that he took.

Head coach Kelly McCrimmon will now try to get the Wheat Kings up for their next game, to be played Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels. Hopefully, the Wheat Kings can bounce back and show heart as they try to put this nasty loss in their rear view mirror.

Also, congratulations to Canada for winning gold at the World Championship and to Finland for winning silver. Both teams played well throughout the tournament and truly earned their place in the finals.

Huskies Defeat Wheat Kings in Brandon’s Memorial Cup Opener

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.

Wheat Kings Win WHL Championship on Strength of Hawryluk’s Hat Trick

John Quenneville will get to skate for a Memorial Cup championship. The Brandon Wheat Kings won the WHL championship with a convincing 8-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Friday.

Quenneville got the Wheat Kings off on the right foot, making it 1-0 with his 16th goal of the playoffs (from Reid Duke and Tim McGauley) at the 3:15 mark of the first period.

But Seattle would tie things up when Josh Uhrich scored his first of two from Andreas Schumacher and Brandon Schuldhaus just a little over five minutes later.

Right before the first intermission, Brandon would retake the lead when Macoy Erkamps scored (assists to Jayce Hawryluk (the first of his five points on the night) and Ivan Provorov. That one came on the power play.

The Wheat Kings would score an insurance goal on their first shot of the second period (just 1:33 in) when Tyler Coulter found the back of the net (assists to Hawryluk and Nolan Patrick).

But from there, Seattle began to apply pressure. They cut the Brandon lead to 3-2 when Uhrich scored his second of the game from Jarret Tyszka and Mathew Barzal at 2:38 of the second period. It would take them less than a minute to tie things up at three. Jarret Smith scored at 3:09 off assists from Barzal and Ethan Bear on the power play to knot things up.

It stayed that way for most of the second period until, at 12:38, Alexander True, the hero of game four, scored from Cavin Leth and Smith to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. But Brandon would not go away quietly. With just over a minute left in the second frame, Hawryluk came through to tie things up at four. McGauley had the lone assist.

If the second period showed Brandon’s resiliency to stay in the game, then the third showed that they had the heart of a champion. Patrick scored the game winner just 2:55 into the final period off assists from Mitch Wheaton and Kale Clague, and from there, the Wheat Kings just poured it on. It was just their second shot of the third frame.

Hawryluk scored his second of the game at 6:19 from Coulter and Patrick to make it 6-4. This goal came on the power play. At 16:41, Hawryluk completed the hat trick when he scored unassisted into an empty net.

Stelio Mattheos would also add an empty netter at 19:40 (assist to Duncan Campbell) to ice the game for Brandon and bring the WHL championship to the Manitoba city.

Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny saw 31 Seattle shots and was equal to 27 of them in the win. For the T-Birds, Landon Bow saw 37 shots, grabbing 31 of them.

The win wrapped up the Wheat Kings’ 4-1 series victory over the T-Birds. Brandon had previously defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings four games to two, the Moose Jaw Warriors four games to one and the Red Deer Rebels four games to one before meeting the Thunderbirds in the final round.

The win sealed them the Ed Chynoweth Cup and the WHL championship.

Nolan Patrick ended the playoffs as the leading scorer with 30 points, Hawryluk right behind him with 29 points and Quenneville behind him with 27 points.

With this win, the Wheat Kings also punched their ticket back to Red Deer, Alberta at the end of May and the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament. They will play in a round robin with the host Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, the London Knights (champions of the OHL) and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (champions of the QMJHL). The games will take place from May 19-29 at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer. Brandon will begin the tournament on Saturday, May 21 against Rouyn-Noranda.

Thunderbirds Derail Wheat Kings’ Sweep Plans With Offensive Explosion

For the first time in the 2016 Western Hockey League championship series, the final score was not 3-2 and it did not come via an overtime decision.

The Brandon Wheat Kings had to put their plans for a championship on hold for now as the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated them in game four in a rout, 6-1. The game took place at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.

Seattle got two goals from Ryan Gropp, two from Alexander True and one from Donovan Neuls. Ethan Bear had a pair of assists, as did Cavin Leth, Keegan Kolesar, Mathew Barzal and Scott Eansor. True also had an assist on Neuls’ goal, which also came on the power play. Bear also had a power play goal late in the third to help ice the game.

John Quenneville of the Wheat Kings was a minus-1 in the game. He was on the ice for True’s first goal at 7:37 of the second period.

The Wheat Kings would erase the shutout with a power play goal from Jayce Hawryluk (assists to Tyler Coulter and Ivan Provorov) with just over two minutes left in the game.

Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny saw 27 shots from the T-Birds and made 21 saves. Seattle’s Landon Bow was near perfect, going 30-for-31.

Game five is also at Seattle on Friday. Quenneville and the Wheat Kings will get another shot to try to punch their ticket to the Memorial Cup then.