Triumphant Return: Bjarnason Backstops Wheat Kings To Home Victory
As they looked to halt a four-game losing skid, the Brandon Wheat Kings turned to a familiar face between the pipes and asked him to deliver in a big way upon his return to the lineup. Carson Bjarnason answered the call emphatically.
Bjarnason stopped 39 of 40 shots thrown his way, Brett Hyland scored twice and the Wheat Kings took down the Red Deer Rebels 4-1. Roger McQueen and Matteo Michels also scored in the win.
“It was a big win,” said head coach and GM Marty Murray. “It wasn’t perfect by any means, but we found a way to get it done. They’ve been playing really good hockey for a while here, and we talked about the importance of starting the weekend off on the right foot. Last weekend, our Friday game set the tone for our weekend, and that’s what we were trying to accomplish with a big win here tonight.”
After a scoreless first period in which both goaltenders came up huge, the Wheat Kings broke through twice on the power play in the second period. First, Hyland took a feed from Andrei Maliavin and unleashed a howitzer of a one-timer to the top corner for his 26th, which tied a career high. He then set a new career high with his 27th after McQueen broke into the zone on another power play and set him up in the slot.
Red Deer got one back when Matteo Fabrizi snuck one through traffic, but the Wheat Kings restored their lead almost right away. McQueen parked himself in the slot, took a slick pass from Nick Johnson, and snapped it home.
Throughout the third period, the Wheat Kings were under siege as Red Deer pressed for offense, but Bjarnason stood tall. The Wheat Kings weathered the storm, and finally opportunity struck when, off a turnover, Michels deposited it into the empty Red Deer net.
The win allows the Wheat Kings to keep pace in the ever-crowded Eastern Conference playoff race, and gives them momentum before their showdown with Swift Current on the road tomorrow. Puck drop is 7:00.