Plante finds groove

KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

While head coach Steve Young was doing his post-game interviews, someone inside the Moose Jaw Warriors dressing room was delivering a profanity-laced, paint-stripping speech.

Meanwhile, down the hall, Brandon Wheat Kings netminder Tyler Plante was flashing his million-dollar smile for the cameras.

Coincidence? We think not.

WHEAT KINGS 3 WARRIORS 2

Plante kicked out 33 shots last night -- several of the spectacular variety -- to propel the Wheaties to a 3-2 win over the Warriors in Game 3 of their WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final series.

The underdog Wheat Kings lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Thursday night back at MTS Centre.

Plante has put the Wheat Kings on his shoulders, and that's bad news for the flustered Warriors, who had 26 more points than Brandon during the regular season.

After the Wheaties dropped the series opener 5-1, Plante made 39 stops in a 2-1 win on Saturday and continued his dominance last night in front of 3,069 spectators.

"He got a lot of experience from last year's playoff run," said Wheat Kings captain and Thompson native Teegan Moore. "We expected him to step his game up for the post-season, and he's doing that.

"We can't ask anymore from the guy right now. He's playing excellent."

Sami Sandell and Moore scored 23 seconds apart in the first period to give Brandon a 2-0 lead, but Moose Jaw's Blair Jones, midway through the second, and Kenndal McArdle, on the power play 6:55 into the third, made it 2-2.

The Wheat Kings, who managed just 23 shots, had been on their heels since the start of the second, but a two-man advantage at 7:47 of the third changed that.

Just 23 seconds later, Mark Derlago buried a needle-threading, cross-crease pass from Codey Burki that ended up being the winner.

Brandon then shut the door, playing fine defensive hockey with an effective forecheck. Plante's pad-stacking save on McArdle with 4:11 to go didn't hurt, either.

Plante hinted that his team's experience from last season's run to the WHL final is a guiding light this year.

"We know that if you get down in playoffs, it's not the end of the world," said Plante. "I recall losing 10-1 to Calgary Hitmen last year in the first game, and we bounced back in the next one.

"Being down isn't such a bad thing in playoffs. It's just how you respond."

IN THE CREASE: Replays showed that Wheaties forward Ryan Reaves scored with 1:25 left in the first, but neither the referee nor the goal judge saw it go in, so they couldn't count it ... Brandon D Theran Yeo has been suspended indefinitely after slugging a fan after Game 2 in Moose Jaw on Saturday. Yeo is Dave Manson's nephew ... The Wheaties are 9-1 all-time at MTS Centre.


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