Photo by Brandi Crowe
Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - It was a holiday thriller at Westoba Place on Friday night as the Brandon Wheat Kings earned a 6-5 overtime win over the Saskatoon Blades.
Stelio Mattheos and Luka Burzan combined for eight points on the night as the Wheat Kings finished the first half of the WHL schedule with a 15-10-3-3 record.
Connor Gutenberg sent the fur flying as he took a pass from Caiden Daley and broke into the Saskatoon end, scoring shorthanded on Nolan Maier. Gutenberg's 1st shorthanded marker of the season is the 2nd in as many nights for the Wheat Kings.
The Blades would tie it just over 4:00 later. Chase Wouters found a loose puck on a goalmouth scramble and poked it over the line, past Ethan Kruger who was making his first consecutive start of his career.
With less than a minute to play in the first, the Blades took advantage of a turnover at their own line and Max Gerlach made the Wheaties pay. The former Medicine Hat Tiger snapped home his 18th of the season on a two-on-one to give Saskatoon a 2-1 lead after one.
There was no holiday love lost between these two teams as the second period saw emotions boil over. Forty minutes of penalties were handed out by the officials, capped off with a fight between Connor Gutenberg and Blades Captain Chase Wouters.
When the dust settled, the Wheat Kings emerged with a 5-3 lead after a four-goal outburst.
First, it was Cole Reinhardt just 0:37 into the period followed by a candidate for goal of the year just three minutes later.
Ridly Greig sent Ben McCartney in on a partial breakaway and the Portage native used incredible hand-foot coordination to pull the puck around the defender and around Blades netminder Nolan Maier for his 8th of the year.
The Blades quickly responded but it was Wheat Kings captain Stelio Mattheos scoring twice in the final eight minutes of the period to restore the two-goal lead for Brandon.
Saskatoon would force overtime with a pair of third-period goals just 1:25 apart including one from Brandon born Tristen Robins, who got a loud cheer from family and friends in his home rink.
In overtime, Ethan Kruger came up big for Brandon stopping Riley McKay on a penalty shot. For Kruger, he would finish the night with 32 saves for his 4th career WHL victory.
With 2:35 left in extra time, Luka Burzan found a way to feed Stelio Mattheos in front and he made no mistake to send the 4,455 fans inside the arena into a frenzy.
Brandon now takes eleven days off for the holidays before returning to a busy schedule of four games in five days starting December 27th vs Regina.
BWK - Connor Gutenberg (9) (Daley) 11:39 SHG
SAS - Chase Wouters (5) (Paterson, Crnkovic) 15:04
SAS - Max Gerlach (18) (Unassisted) 19:51
Shots: 14-5 Saskatoon
BWK - Cole Reinhardt (5) (Mattheos, Burzan) 0:37
BWK - Ben McCartney (8) (Greig) 3:43 PPG
SAS - Dawson Davidson (7) (Paterson, Kneen) 11:34
BWK - Stelio Mattheos (24) (Burzan) 12:15
BWK - Stelio Mattheos (25) (Burzan, Greig) 16:32
Shots: 17-10 Brandon
SAS - Max Gerlach (19) (Schuldhaus) 10:05
SAS - Tristen Robins (6) (Kneen) 11:30
Shots: 13-7 Saskatoon
BWK - Stelio Mattheos (26) (Burzan) 3:25
Final Shots: 40-31 Saskatoon