Kings commoners

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

A week ago, they were known in these parts as the powerful Brandon Wheat Kings.

They were the high-flying club boasting the top three scorers in the WHL: Eric Fehr, Ryan Stone and Tim Konsorada.

They were the team that led the league in scoring through the regular season, averaging more than 3.5 goals per game.

They were runners and gunners, loaded with one game breaker after another.

Now, they're leaving the Stampede City down 3-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal after losing 4-2 last night at the 'Dome.

Having seen his team score only three goals in the last two games, both losses on Saddledome ice, Wheat Kings GM/head coach Kelly McCrimmon knows that won't be enough, no matter how good his squad is defensively.

"We scored one goal on Tuesday night and two tonight and, more often than not, you need more offence than that to win," said McCrimmon. "We need to be better offensively than we've been ... but I don't think we've played as well as we can play."

Brandon was supposed to be the unstoppable force with Calgary trying to play the immovable object. But, for the most part, the Wheat Kings haven't exactly been a major threat.

Not even Fehr, the regular-season scoring leader with 111 points, who said his team has obviously played below its abilities.

"We're just not bearing down on our chances," said Fehr. "We're not sending enough pucks on the net and we're not driving to the net. That's about it."

The chances certainly aren't being generated often, either.

Stone, the Calgary kid, failed to register a single shot in Tuesday's Game 3 loss and didn't manage one on Hitmen goalie Justin Pogge through 40 minutes of last night's loss.

He finally put a puck on goal with 10 minutes left in the game. And he's not alone.

Konsorada, the captain who missed all of the first round due to a shoulder injury, hasn't collected a point yet in the series and failed to register a shot last night.

In fact, after taking their 1-0 lead on the powerplay at the 6:21 mark of the first period, the Wheat Kings had two more before the opening frame ended and then didn't fire a puck on goal for 12 full minutes in the second period.

Are Hitmen playing that well defensively or are the Wheaties not offering all they've got?

McCrimmon insists it's the latter.

"I don't think they're doing anything specifically that you wouldn't expect from any other team," said the coach, who even tried reuniting Fehr with Stone and added offensive defenceman Steven Later to shake up things.

"We haven't been able to keep momentum. We've surrendered the momentum at key times and that's hurt us.

"We think there is more. Our guys can play better and while that's disappointing, it also gives us reason to believe in ourselves.

"If we had played our best two games of the winter and had lost Games 3 and 4, then you're wondering what to do next but that hasn't been case."


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