John Quenneville was the Devils' first-round selection in 2014. (Photo: Getty Images)
Devils prospect John Quenneville
and the Brandon Wheat Kings came up short in the opening game of the WHL Final with a 4-3 loss to the Kelowna Rockets on Friday.
Quenneville, the Wheat Kings’ leading scorer (10g-9a) in the playoffs entering the final, was held off the scoresheet. He was the Devils' first-round pick, 30th overall, in 2014.
Kelowna’s Leon Draisaitl had the deciding goal, snapping a 3-3 tie with 1:10 remaining in the second period to secure a 1-0 series lead for the visitors.
Rihards Bukarts scored twice for the Wheat Kings, who are seeking their first WHL title since 1996. Brandon and Kelowna were the top two teams during the WHL regular season with 114 and 112 points, respectively.
The Wheat Kings drew first blood on Bukarts' power-play goal five minutes into the game. Kelowna’s Tyson Baillie responded on the power play with less than three minutes left in the opening frame to tie things at 1.
The contest would be decided in the five-goal second period. Kelowna struck twice in the opening 1:19, grabbing a 3-1 lead on markers by Justin Kirkland and Chance Braid.
But Brandon wasn't done, tying the game at 3 late in the period on a pair of goals 1:57 apart by Quenneville’s brother Peter (PP) and Bukarts.
Just 55 seconds after Bukarts’ second of the night, however, Draisaitl put the Rockets back on top for good.
The teams combined for 23 shots in the scoreless third. Overall shots favored Kelowna, 40-28.
The best-of-seven continues in Brandon with Saturday’s Game 2.