Wheaties earn playoff spot

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

Playoff bound.

The Brandon Wheat Kings overcame a 4-1 deficit and punched their card to the Western Hockey League playoffs by earning a 5-4 shootout victory over the Saskatoon Blades before a crowd of 2,586 at the MTS Centre last night.

WHEAT KINGS 5 BLADES 4 (SO)

"I was so jacked when the puck crossed the line and to know we had clinched the playoff spot," said Wheat Kings winger Jeff Topilko, who had a pair of goals and added the shootout clincher. "None of the guys thought we were going to lose this game. We knew we had to win."

The win, combined with a loss by the Prince Albert Raiders, ensures the Wheat Kings will meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the opening round.

"Everything had to go right for us this weekend," said Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon, whose club is seven points up on the Raiders with three games to go. "It's not often you pull your goaltender and come back and win."

But McCrimmon got out the hook for starter Tyler Plante after he gave up two goals on four shots just 8:20 into the contest.

Kurt Jory came in and finished with 21 saves in relief.

A power-play goal from Topilka with 1:26 left in the first period helped get the Wheat Kings going, but it wasn't long before the Blades restored the two-goal advantage.

In the opening minute of the second, Wacey Rabbit showed great patience and vision, winding up for a slapshot but passing to Chad Klassen for a nifty redirection.

Justin McCrae also scored for the Blades.

With .3 seconds left in the second period, defenceman Riley Day walked into the slot and rifled a high shot over the glove of Blades goalie Anton Khudobin to make it 4-3.

Winnipegger Codey Burki thought he tied the game 10 seconds into the third after converting a pass from Mark Derlago, but referee Matt Kirk waved off the goal.

Burki was given a double minor at 17:52 of the second period and should have been in the penalty box to start the period, so the goal did not count.

"I wasn't informed that I had two penalties there, I thought my penalty expired with eight seconds left," said Burki. "It was really frustrating, that's all I can say."


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