'Pegger sparks Wheaties

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:08 PM ET

BRANDON -- For the second time in four years, the Brandon Wheat Kings are one win away from the Western Hockey League final.

This time, however, they plan on getting there.

WHEAT KINGS 5 RAIDERS 4

Winnipeg native Codey Burki scored twice, and Winkler product Eric Fehr's go-ahead goal was a thing of beauty as the Wheat Kings edged the pesky Prince Albert Raiders 5-4 last night in front of 5,794 boisterous fans at Keystone Centre.

Brandon leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 3-2 and can advance to the league final for the first time in seven years tomorrow night when Game 6 is played in Prince Albert.

Game 7, if necessary, would be played back in Brandon on Tuesday night.

"I'm pleased we won, and yet I didn't think it was our best effort," Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon said. "It could have been better.

"It was the first time maybe in these entire playoffs that we were nervous to start the game. That didn't happen in Game 7 against Calgary (in an Eastern semifinal), it didn't happen in Game 5 facing elimination (against Calgary)."

Thanks to a strong showing by Brandon's energy line and Fehr's splendid touch last night, the Wheat Kings are just 60 minutes from playing for the WHL hardware.

Prince Albert's Jeremy Colliton, with his second goal of the night, made it a 3-3 game at 4:51 of the third, but Fehr produced an outstanding effort just 1:16 later that put the Wheat Kings up for good.

Brandon's Jakub Sindel lobbed the puck out of his own zone, and a hard-charging Fehr tangled with P.A. defenceman Chris Schlenker at the Raiders blue-line.

Fehr stayed on his feet and Schlenker did not, so Fehr scooped up the puck and fooled Raiders netminder Rejean Beauchemin with a slick, backhanded deke for his 14th of the post-season.

Prince Albert head coach Peter Anholt felt a penalty could have been called on Fehr.

"Ray Charles could have seen that that was a penalty," Anholt said.

The only problem for Anholt is that Ray Charles wasn't officiating last night's game -- Chris Savage was -- and the Wheat Kings were on their way to the win.

Lance Monych, with his 14th of the playoffs, notched Brandon's insurance marker with 2:58 remaining, and the Wheat Kings cashed in the policy when Rick Kozak scored with 31 seconds left to make it too close for comfort for the hometown crowd.

Brandon's energy line, consisting of Burki, Derek LeBlanc and Winnipeg rookie Ryan Reaves, got the hosts on the board in the first period, during which the Wheat Kings looked tentative and were out-shot 14-7.

Reaves led with his body, LeBlanc fed the puck out front, and Burki buried it.

"We were kind of snakebitten there for a few games," Burki said. "For about five games there we had a few chances, but finally tonight we put some in."

Added McCrimmon: "It was a real big goal for us that Codey Burki scored to tie the game at one, so we could at least call the period a wash and prepare to regroup for period two."

Brandon took a 3-1 lead midway through the second on goals by Steven Later and Burki that were just 35 seconds apart.

Prince Albert's Brad Erickson scored a short-handed goal late in the second that got the visitors to within one going into the third.

Wheat Kings netminder Tyler Plante made 24 saves, while Beauchemin, a Winnipegger, had 26.


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