Wheaties grab edge

ADAM WAZNY-- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

BRANDON -- They had the edge during the regular season and now they have the early advantage in the playoffs. Forward Eric Fehr and captain Tim Konsorada scored third-period power-play goals as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders 4-2 at the Keystone Centre last night.

WHEAT KINGS 4 RAIDERS 2

Brandon, which had a 6-2-1 record over the Raiders in the regular season, now leads the WHL's best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 1-0. The series resumes today at 7:30 p.m.

Dropping a 10-1 decision in the first game of the last series against Calgary, the Wheaties wasted no time getting started in Game 1 against the Raiders.

Ryan Stone corralled a loose puck in the slot 26 seconds into the game and fired it past goaltender Rejean Beauchemin for his third of the playoffs.

Prince Albert tied it five minutes later, when forward Dane Byers deflected a Kyle Chipchura pass past Wheaties netminder Tyler Plante.

"Early in the game I thought Prince Albert was much better than us, even though we had a good start," Brandon coach Kelly McCrimmon said. "There were stretches where they did the things they had to do to be successful. There were stretches where we countered and were able to do some good things back."

After Konsorada gave his club a 2-1 lead, a line brawl closed out the second period, with Brandon high-scorers Stone, Lance Monych, and Steven Later all involved in the fisticuffs.

Right in the middle of it was Byers, who drew the loudest ovation from the 3,786 in attendance when he was wrestled to the ice by one of the linesmen.

Cue the Brandon power play.

As a result of the melee, the Wheat Kings ended up with a three-minute power play early in the third period, during which Fehr -- who had a three-point night -- and Konsorada both scored.

"We played a pretty good team game and were lucky to get some pucks past Beauch," Stone said, his team going 2-for-5 with the man advantage. "It really puts pressure on those guys to stay out of the box and not take penalties on us."

With the hatred between the East division rivals, Fehr thinks Prince Albert will be much more bruising than the run-and-gun Calgary team.

"This series is going to be a lot more physical," he said. "Their defence are real big on their team and they like to play the body. We're going to try and do our best."

Chipchura scored the other goal for Prince Albert.

Plante made 26 saves for the Wheat Kings, while Beauchemin stopped 28 for the Raiders.

LEAGUE STUFF: The WHL Board of Governors has granted conditional approval on the sale of the Tri-City Americans which will keep the team in the Pacific Northwest area.

Among the new owners are Americans GM Bob Tory and NHL players Olaf Kolzig and former Winnipeg Jet Stu Barnes.

A stipulation of the sale is that the former ownership group, featuring big names like former Vancouver Canucks GM Brian Burke and current New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather, will be granted a new WHL team.

That club will play out of Chilliwack, B.C. starting in the 2006-07 season.


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