Second time's a charm for 'AAA' Wheat Kings

The Brandon Midget 'AAA' Wheat Kings have defeated the Winnipeg Wild for the Manitoba Midget 'AAA' Hockey League championship title. It was the second consecutive year the teams met for the crown.

The Brandon Midget 'AAA' Wheat Kings defeated the Manitoba Midget 'AAA' Hockey League's top seed three games to one to win the 2018-2019 championship trophy in Brandon on Wednesday.

The Wheat Kings scored three goals through the first 40 minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the final period of Game 4 at the Sportsplex. They allowed the Wild to come within two goals at 7:40 of the third, but Nolan Ritchie scored a short-handed, unassisted insurance goal to put the game away with 5:35 remaining.

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Mason Kaspick, Tanner Morrison and Mitch Thiessen scored Brandon's opening three goals. Assists went to Thiessen, Troy Hamilton, Cole Jordan and Kaspick.

Reese Belton scored the lone Winnipeg goal, assisted by Tyler Thoendel and Brandon McCartney.

Brandon goaltender Dawson Green stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced, while Winnipeg's Carson Cherepak and Brett Murphy split netminding duties at the other end. The Wheat Kings peppered the Wild goal with 48 shots, with the goalies giving up two goals apiece.

This year's playoffs hosted the second consecutive year Brandon met the Wild for the league title. Winnipeg swept the Wheat Kings last season and were the three-time defending league champions coming into this season.

Brandon gained the upper hand in their battle for the MMAAAHL crown by rebounding from an opening-game loss with a pair of victories.

The Wheat Kings took the lead in the five-game championship series with a 5-2 victory in Game 3 in Winnipeg on Monday. Two days before, they earned their first win of the season versus the Winnipeg Wild to tie the series at one game each.

Game 3 saw the Wheat Kings go goal-for-goal with the Wild through the first two periods. Tied at two heading into the third, Deniz Ntelioglou scored unassisted to give Brandon a one-goal advantage. It held for the rest of the game, with the Wheat Kings' Mason Kaspick and Colin Cook adding two insurance markers.

Dawson Green earned the win in goal by stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced.

Cook also pocketed the first goal in the match, while Calder Anderson rounded out Brandon's scoring. Nolan Ritchie had two assists in the match, while Mitch Thiessen, Rylan Thiessen and Troy Hamilton were handed one helper each.

Reese Belton and Ethan Robson scored for the Wild.

The Wild took a one game lead by opening the series with a 6-3 win last Thursday in Winnipeg. The Wild jumped ahead 5-0 before Brandon responded with three goals from Rylan Thiessen, Tanner Morrison and Anderson.

The Wild's Tyler Thoendel scored the last of his three goals to close the game. Jackson Klewchuck, Luc Benedictson and Kaden Bryant also collected goals for Winnipeg.

In Brandon on Saturday, the Wheat Kings knotted the series at one game apiece with a 3-2 triumph. Mitch Thiessen put Brandon up 1-0 on a powerplay in the first period, assisted by Kaspick and Morrison. The Wild tied the game three minutes into the second period, but Morrison regained Brandon's lead at 15:14. The goal once again came on a Brandon powerplay, assisted by Mitch Thiessen and Jared Twerdoclib.

The Wild's Tyson Smith tied the game at two with a minute and a half left in the middle frame. The score remained equal through most of the third period, but Cole Jordon scored the game winner with 1:24 remaining. Kaspick and Ritchie assisted on the goal. Despite pulling their goalie for an extra attacker for the final minute, the Wild could not come back.

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