Wheat Kings remember

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:17 PM ET

BRANDON -- Tonight's the night that Lance Monych can finally get over the hump.

The Brandon Wheat Kings right-winger, a 20-year-old from Winnipeg, was with the WHL club when it blew a 3-1 series lead against the Red Deer Rebels in the 2002 Eastern Conference final.

Now, three years later, the Wheat Kings have a 3-2 lead on the Prince Albert Raiders in the best-of-seven Eastern final after their wild, 5-4 win on Friday at the Keystone Centre.

Brandon, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, can finish off Prince Albert, the No. 7 seed, when Game 6 is played tonight in the northern Saskatchewan city.

Monych promises to do everything he can tonight to propel the Wheaties into the WHL final for the first time since 1998.

"There's not too many guys here from (2002), but, personally, I can take that learning experience into the game," said Monych, whose slick one-timer off a Steven Later pass proved to be the game-winning goal Friday night. "We just gotta look at Game 6 and not any further than that. We gotta come out with a better effort than we had (Friday night).

"They're going to be fighting for their lives. They have one loss in their house (in the playoffs), so they're going to be going hard."

Monych, who, along with teammate Eric Fehr of Winkler, leads the WHL with 14 playoff goals, knows Prince Albert will be its usual pesky self tonight.

"No one wants to go home," Monych said. "Playoffs are the funnest time of the year. It's what you live for. It's there on the line, and by no means are they going to quit."

OUT WEST: The Kootenay Ice were four seconds away from being eliminated by the Kelowna Rockets Friday night in Western Conference final action.

However, they're still alive.

Kelowna led 1-0 late in the third, but Kootenay's Martin Sagat scored with four seconds left in the third. Sagat then assisted on Dale Mahovsky's game-winner 48 seconds into the second overtime period.

The Rockets still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 is tonight in Kelowna and will be aired on the Shaw network.

Kootenay forward and Winnipeg native Nigel Dawes, who took a nasty hit from Rockets defenceman Shea Weber in Game 4, missed Friday night's contest.

AROUND THE GLASS: Winnipeg native Andy Zulyniak made his WHL season debut for the Wheat Kings Friday night and had plenty of ice time. Zulyniak spent the whole season with the BCHL's Vernon Vipers ... As a result of Zalyniak's addition, Steven Later spent much of the game playing left wing and had a goal and an assist on Monych's winner ... The crowd of 5,794 at the Keystone on Friday was the sixth-largest in Wheat Kings history.


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