Ten is terrific as the Brandon Wheat Kings’ winning streak reached double digits in the Western Hockey League.
The Victoria Royals were the latest victims of the Wheaties’ torrid stretch as the home side (25-17-3) prevailed 6-3 in Brandon on Friday. The Royals (25-16-3) continued in the other direction, dropping their third consecutive game after an 8-1-1 run.
The game was a kind of family affair, at least on the bench, as first-year Wheat Kings head coach Dave Lowry coached the Royals for five seasons before departing to become assistant coach of the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL. Lowry was twice named WHL coach of the year and was selected Team Canada head coach and assistant coach in the world junior hockey tournament during his Victoria tenure.
Dan Price, who was Royals assistant coach during Lowry’s final season in Victoria, is now head coach of the Royals.
“I learned so much from Dave,” said Price.
“It was great to meet [Lowry] for coffee in the morning and we gave each other a nod and a wave after the anthems tonight,” said Price.
The game turned on a five-minute collapse by Victoria to end the first period as Brandon scored four unanswered goals in that stretch, three of them on just 11 shots on Shane Farkas, who was replaced by Adam Evanoff.
“Those five minutes were the big story,” said Price.
“Brandon is a very opportunistic team that can strike quickly.”
Power-play goals in the second period by Gary Haden and Kaid Oliver pulled the Royals to within two. Haden finished with three points and Victoria forward Tarun Fizer and defenceman Mitchell Prowse added two assists each.
The Wheat Kings, however, stemmed any potential tide shift by scoring twice in the third period to make it 6-2 before Brayden Tracey scored Victoria’s third power-play goal to close scoring.
Surrey product and Colorado Avalanche draft-pick Luka Burzan scored his 25th and 26th goals for Brandon.
Victoria outshot the Wheat Kings 48-37 but Czech-import Jiri Patera, a draft pick of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, turned in another in a line of standout performances in goal for Brandon.
“We put ourselves in a hole,” said Price.
“But we responded well and won the final 40 minutes 3-2.”
The Royals continue their six-game, 5,500-kilometre road swing through the Eastern Division tonight in Winnipeg against the Ice.