By Carter Brooks
Photo courtesy of the Regina Pats
The Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings are sitting comfortably after beginning the 2018-19 season 4-0-1.
After winning their first three games of the season (two of which came in the season-opening home-and-home with the Moose Jaw Warriors), the Wheat Kings suffered their first loss of the year to those same Warriors on the road last Friday. Although they came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 overtime score, Brandon was able to pick up one point in defeat.
The Wheaties' season-opening winning streak came to a halt Friday evening, as Robin, Manitoba's Josh Brook and his Moose Jaw teammates took it to the visitors at Mosaic Place in Saskatchewan, winning the game 3-2 on a Brook overtime strike just 17 seconds into the extra period.
Brook - a 19-year-old graduate of the AAA Notre Dame Hounds and current Warriors' team captain - collected the game winner, as well as two assists in Friday's contest, putting up points on each of Moose Jaw's three goals in the victory. Wheat Kings' captain Stelio Mattheos answered the bell for Brandon, scoring both of the visitors' goals, but was unable to help his team to victory.
The overtime loss was the first of Wheaties' netminder Jiri Patera's WHL career, as he had held a spotless 3-0-0 record prior to Friday's contest. He stopped 27 of 30 pucks directed his way. Patera and the Wheat Kings redeemed themselves the following day, as the team exploded for seven goals - including five in the second period - in their 7-3 road victory over the Regina Pats from the Brandt Centre.
As dominant a performance it was from Patera, who stopped 37 of 40 shots, the offensive firepower from Brandon was spread throughout the roster, as the Wheat Kings had seven different goal scorers, including Mattheos, Jonny Hooker, Caiden Daley, Lynden McCallum, Ben McCartney, Cole Reinhardt and Connor Gutenberg, and a total of 11 players who contributed points on the night, including goaltender Patera.
Defencemen Braden Schneider and Chase Hartje each finished the game +4, while Reinhardt put up five shots on the night. Two of the Wheaties' goals came on the man advantage, while Brandon shut down all three of Regina's power play opportunities.
With last weekend's festivities behind them, Brandon will look to continue in its winning ways as the team begins a five-game-in-nine-day stretch. Making things easier on the Wheat Kings is the fact that all five games are hosted at Westoba Place, as the Warriors, the Swift Current Broncos, the Spokane Chiefs, Everett Silvertips and the Calgary Hitmen each make their way to Brandon over the next week.
Moose Jaw and Swift Current face off with the Wheat Kings in Friday and Saturday evening matchups, while Spokane take on the Wheaties on Tuesday. Everett and Calgary roll into Brandon the following weekend for both of their first showdowns in Manitoba. Tuesday's game against the Chiefs begins at 7:00 P.M. central, while each of the four weekend games see 7:30 P.M. puck drops.