Manitoba’s lone Western Hockey League team managed to pick up one victory in the best-of-seven second-round series, but ultimately fell to the Hurricanes in five games.
Beginning the second round much like the first, Brandon was outscored in both games one and two on the road, returning home down 2-0 in both situations. Banking on strong game three performances, the Wheat Kings stormed back with four-straight victories in round one, but could only muster up one win at home in two games in the second round.
Hitting the road for game five, down three-games-to-one, the Wheaties were in tough against a strong Lethbridge squad, building off of performances by the WHL’s leading point producer in the playoffs, Brad Morrison.
Afting falling behind 2-0 in game five on Friday night, Brandon Head Coach David Anning gave it one last shot, pulling backup netminder Dylan Myskiw with two minutes to play. Morrison sealed the deal for the Hurricanes as he buried his second goal of the game, sixth of the series, 12th of the playoffs, and 29th point of the postseason with six seconds left in the contest.
Morrison – a 1997 product of Prince George, B.C. – now holds a five-point advantage over Tri City’s Morgan Geekie for WHL playoff points. Geekie, a third-year Manitoban – has 15 goals and 24 points in just eight postseason games for the Americans. The Strathclair native is averaging three points-per-game so far in these WHL playoffs.
After beating Kelowna in four straight, Tri City dismantled Victoria, also in five games. The Americans will face off against the Everett Silvertips in the third round. Lethbridge will do battle with the winner of the series featuring the 3-2 Swift Current Broncos and the 2-3 Moose Jaw Warriors.
In a kind gesture, the Lethbridge Hurricanes honoured the three over-aged Brandon Wheat Kings, captain James Shearer, Evan Weinger and injured netminder Logan Thompson as the game’s three stars Friday night. Although missing all but the Wheaties’ opening game-and-a-half of the 2017-18 postseason, Logan Thompson finished his career in Brandon with a 67-52-9 record, while James Shearer put up 13 goals and 51 points as a defensive defenceman.
Ending the year with nothing to be ashamed of (as Brandon traded away captain Tanner Kaspick and defensive leader Kale Clague mid-season) the Wheat Kings will shift their focus to the 2018-19 season. With the WHL Draft and Prospects Camp just months away, some time away from the rink will surely prove beneficial for this season’s 40-game winners.
See you in the fall, Wheat Kings.
By Carter Brooks
Photo by Jeff Miller