Wheaties battle back for win

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 AM ET

BRANDON — The Brandon Wheat Kings found a way to break the spell and win the game that really mattered.

After losing five consecutive post-season games to the Calgary Hitmen, the Wheat Kings turned the tables on a goal from Jay Fehr at 3:16 of the first overtime that gave them a 5-4 victory before a crowd at 5,235 at Westman Place in the semifinal of the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup.

After winning the first game of the Eastern Conference final, the Wheat Kings dropped the next four and were smoked 5-1 in the final round robin game, but they overcame a 3-1 second period deficit and regrouped after blowing a 4-3 lead.

“We definitely owed them,” said Fehr. “It was nice to finally beat them.”

The Wheat Kings (2-2) advance to Sunday's Memorial Cup final (6 p.m. CT, Sportsnet), where they'll face the defending champion Windsor Spitfires (3-0).

“Obviously, we’re really excited. It’s something you play your life for,” said Wheat Kings defenceman Travis Hamonic, who had a goal and three points in the game. “It was nice to do it in the fashion we did it, and it was nice we finally did it. They had our number the last couple of games and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.

“We showed a little of perseverance throughout the whole game. We were resilient and we just didn’t go away. We made sure we were ready, and it showed on the scoreboard.”

That winner came on a nifty drop pass in the slot from Toni Rajala.

“That’s probably the No. 1 goal in my career here,” said Fehr, who scored through the five-hole. “I just ripped it and luckily it went in. I didn’t even see where it went in. I heard it hit the back of the net and it was just a great feeling.

“The boys punched me in the head a few times in the huddle. I was just excited.”

Brandon came out with plenty of jump and might have enjoyed their best period of the Memorial Cup, were it not for a pair of goals scored nine seconds apart by the Hitmen.

The Hitmen built a 2-0 lead on goals from Joel Broda and Ian Schultz, but the Wheat Kings answered with one from Alex Urbom at 1:35 of the second period.

Just when you thought the host team might find a rally, Tyler Fiddler scored a soft goal on a long slapper for a short-handed marker that seemed to suck the life out of the building.

Not so fast.

“We felt like we had a lot of hockey left, which we did,” said Wheat Kings co-captain Brayden Schenn, who had three assists. “It was a never-quit attitude. We battled back from 2-0 and 3-1. We’ve got an older hockey club and we didn’t want it to be our last game together.”

A goal from Wheat Kings co-captain Matt Calvert and a powerplay goal from Hamonic, who had a goal and two assists, evened the score with 10.6 seconds left in the frame.

Hitmen forward Misha Fisenko scored his first of the tournament with 5:12 left in regulation to tie the game 4-4.

“Brandon took their game to another level,” said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson.

“It’s a tough way to go out,” said Hitmen forward and former Wheat King Del Cowan. “We let them do what they wanted. That’s probably what hurts the most. We gave them a lot of opportunities. This one’s going to sting for awhile, though.”

NOTES: The Hitmen got top scorer Brandon Kozun (ankle) back and he collected two assists. Friday night was the 11th meeting of the season between two Western Hockey League rivals. Back in 1979 the Wheat Kings lost 2-1 in overtime to the host Peterborough Petes. Former Wheat Kings D-man and current Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon was on hand for ceremonial puck drop.


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