CALGARY - The Brandon Wheat Kings took home ice away from the Calgary Hitmen on the opening night of the Western Hockey League playoffs Thursday.
The Wheat Kings scored four unanswered goals to break open a game that was tied 2-2 late in the second period to skate to an impressive 6-2 win over Calgary.
"We have some guys who can scored goals when given the opportunity," said Wheat Kings head coach Cory Clouston. "We had balanced scoring. That's important. You can't rely on one or two guys. Obviously our top guys had good games, but so did our role players."
Darian Dziurzynski scored twice for Brandon and captain Mark Stone scored the winner and set up the Wheat Kings' fourth goal.
"We treated this like any other game," said Dziurzynski. "We came out and played our system and played hard.
"We came into the playoffs hot (winning 15 of our final 21 games) and were able to carry that on into the first game."
Jason Swyripa, Michael Ferland and Alessio Bertaggia added singles for the Wheat Kings. Corbin Boes made 34 saves.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final is Friday.
For the second straight season the Wheat Kings open the playoffs with an extended road trip. The Royal Winter Fair will keep them out of the Keystone Centre for the opening round. Games 3, 4 and possibly Game 5 will be played at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg before series would return to Calgary for Games 6 and 7.
The Wheat Kings opened the scoring with two quick goals in the first period. Swyripa finished off a mad scramble in the crease at 8:41 and Dziurzynski scored off a nifty one-handed shovel pass from Bruno Mraz less than a minute later at 9:27.
Brandon couldn't get out of the period without suffering some damage. Brooks Macek grabbed the puck at the Brandon blue-line when the Wheat Kings failed to clear the zone, skated in untouched and roofed the puck over Boes' shoulder with 59 seconds on the clock.
Calgary then got one on the power play at 1:16 of the second period when Alex Gogolev lifted a cross-ice pass over Boes.
Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson expressed frustration at his team not being able build any momentum throughout the game.
"We'd have one or two good shifts here-and-there and really didn't follow it up," he said. "We were having a tough time really gaining a lot of traction throughout the game."
Stone, who is an Ottawa Senators prospect, banged a rebound past Chris Driedger at 16:13 to regain Brandon's lead at 3-2.
Ferland, who belongs to the Calgary Flames, redirected Stone's long pass for an insurance goal at 13:38 of the third and Dziurzynski blasted a shot over Driedger's shoulder from the top of the left face-off circle to add to the cushion 28 seconds later. Bertaggia scored the exact same goal with 3:45 remaining.
Stone is among three key players who are entering the playoffs with injuries. He has been playing with a hurt thumb for a couple of weeks that requires a cast.
The Hitmen have a bigger problem. They opened the playoffs without their second and third leading scorers ??? centres Cody Sylvester and Swedish star Victor Rask.
Rask suffered an undisclosed leg injury in Calgary's final regular season game on March 17.
Less is known about Sylvester's injury. He missed the regular-season finale and Williamson would only say Thursday that he is day-to-day. He wouldn't say what part of the body the injury was located.