Photo by Keith Hershmiller
Ben McCartney recorded his first career hat-trick and Connor Ungar turned aside 38 shots as the Brandon Wheat Kings earned a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg ICE on Wednesday night.
The win pulls Brandon back into a tie with the Saskatoon Blades atop the East Division standings, and gives the Wheaties a commanding 3-0 season series lead on their provincial rivals.
"We're thankful our goaltender played great tonight," said Head Coach Don MacGillivray. "We made some adjustments on the penalty kill that helped us against a really good powerplay... We got the job done."
The ICE were given six powerplays on the night, scoring twice. Considering the ICE came into the night with the best powerplay in the division, the Wheat Kings did a great job while down a man.
"Apparently the refs thought we needed to work on the penalty kill tonight," said MacGillivray with a chuckle. "We deserved our penalties there is no question about that, but the disapointing thing is we didn't get one powerplay in the game. We must have been playing the cleanest team in hockey."
Riley Ginnell and Bret Hyland opened up a 2-0 lead for the Wheat Kings in the first period, but the ICE scratched and clawed their way back into the game over the course of the next 40 minutes.
For McCartney, his milestone goal came into the empty net late in the third period after two huge defensive zone faceoff wins by Ridly Greig.
"It feels good to have the hatty in a tight game like that vs the ICE," added McCartney. "The guys I was playing with tonight were battling and gave me the oppotunity tonight."
As mentioned, Brandon is now tied with the Blades atop the East Division and four points up on the ICE, heading into a two-day break in the schedule. With just five games left in the schedule, the BWK will be doing some scoreboard watching.
"When you're this close in the standings, every game is a four-point game. It's playoffs at this point and getting wins against good hockey clubs means a lot. We're feeling good right now but we have to get back to work in a couple of days."
The Wheat Kings take on the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday afternoon. (5:00 MB time on Q Country.