In a battle of the WHL, the game was kept close. The hometown fans were given one hell of a show, and we avoided ending the round robin with a blowout game that had everyone heading for the doors at second intermission.
The Brandon Wheat Kings are no more, the WHL champions eliminated in the round robin stage after going down by two goals to Rouyn-Noranda, being blown out by London, and last night falling to their conference final opponent Red Deer.
Missing from the Wheat Kings line up was forward Jayce Hawryluk ('14 FLA), oddly scratched on a game like this; but after getting a game misconduct the previous night vs the Huskies this could be an informal suspension.
The game began with some good hockey, a couple roughing penalties but nothing you wouldn't expect from teenagers fighting to keep their team playing on the next day.
Tim McGauley (undrafted) opened the scoring up 30 minutes into the game for Brandon.
A relatively quiet game, despite the big consequences, the players were playing smart, keeping penalties to a minimum. Brandon heading into the third held a 1-0 lead but needed to win by at least 2 goals to play a tiebreaker against Rouyn-Noranda.
Unfortunately for Brandon however, Red Deer was saving it's goals for late in the game, when with five minutes left, Adam Musil ('15 STL) tied the game at one apiece.
Overtime was on the menu for the first time in this tournament, but the home town crowd was able to leave for a proper bedtime, or, as it turned out, plenty of time to celebrate after Evan Polei scored just under four minutes into the extra frame to give Red Deer the win over the WHL champs, move them to the semi-finals versus Rouyn-Noranda.
The Rebels got their revenge for Brandon eliminating them in the WHL Eastern Conference Final. They now face off against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who have been waiting for their semi-final opponent since their loss to London on Wednesday.
1 - Evan Polei, Red Deer
2 - Rylan Toth, Red Deer
3 - Jordan Papirny, Brandon
You can watch highlights of the game here.
The Memorial Cup Semi-finals will take place Friday night at 8PM EDT and see QMJHL champions Rouyn-Noranda Huskies take on the host Red Deer Rebels.
The winner will face the OHL champion London Knights Sunday afternoon at 4:30PM EDT.