Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meaningless Game? Hitmen pound in message to Wheat Kings

Well that was interesting. Calgary skated away with dominating 5-1 win to wrap up the round robin portion of the Mastercard Memorial Cup and set the tone for Friday's semi-final rematch.

The Hitmen didn't dominate the whole game, but just about. I thought Brandon came hard in the first, but the difference was Martin Jones who battled for rebounds and after getting beat just 29 second after Calgary had opened the scoring, didn't give the Wheat Kings a sniff. He made cross crease, reaction and 2nd and 3rd saves the whole first period. Then when Brandon was hoping to build momentum in the 3rd for the semi final, Jones snuffed them out on back to back 5 on 3 power plays and a 5 minute major.

At the other end, Jacob De Serres struggled along with Brandon's blueline. To many times De Serres gave up a rebound and couldn't corral it before Calgary put it behind him. It didn't help that his mates stood around to much and gave Calgary chance after chance to beat him.

Once again Jimmy Bubnick was terrific for the Hitmen, scoring once and setting up 3 others on route to a +4 night.

Brandon's Scott Glennie didn't play much after the first period and wasn't on the bench for the 3rd. One Wheat King player with tongue firmly planted in cheek, said Glennie had a cut lip. Kelly McCrimmon didn't offer much about his status in the post game and some media members were wondering out loud if there even was an injury. Glennie hasn't been great during the tournament, but I can't see Brandon benching a top ten pick during the biggest time in franchise history.

As for Calgary, Captain Ian Schultz is someone to keep an eye on for Friday night. Schultz blocked a shot on a late Brandon power play, and it was a rocket, as in possibly bone breaking. I asked head coach Mike Williamson after his news conference and he told me Schultz is ok...but who knows.

This one did have some rough moments, like when Rigby Burgart cross checked Shayne Wiebe after the Brandon agitator stuck out his knee and left Calgary sniper Kris Foucoult limping off the ice. Burgart was given 5 and a game. There also 2 fights, in which Cody Beach of Calgary was beaten up twice. First by Travis Hamonic and later courtesy of Michael Ferlund, who had his pick of opponents when Ben Wilson also opted to drop his mitts. That's pretty much the only thing Brandon can take into Friday night from this one.

Or maybe it was so bad Calgary is lulled into a fall sense of security. That one will be floated by the same people who think Kelly McCrimmon started Andrew Hayes last Friday against Windsor because he thought they were going to lose anyway.

One thing is for sure, Brandon has to bounce back on Friday, like they did against Moncton in their 2nd game, and they have to get their lack of success against Calgary out of their collective heads. The Hitmen, don't have to change a thing.

One final note, this tournament is the reason Matt Calvert came back to Brandon this year, instead of signing with Columbus and playing in the AHL. Friday night has been on his mind for months, and he told me after most of the media had left, 'you don't come back to lose, and failure is not an option.' Brandon fans are hoping Calvert has 2 more games as a Wheat King.

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