John Quenneville will get to skate for a Memorial Cup championship. The Brandon Wheat Kings won the WHL championship with a convincing 8-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Friday.
Quenneville got the Wheat Kings off on the right foot, making it 1-0 with his 16th goal of the playoffs (from Reid Duke and Tim McGauley) at the 3:15 mark of the first period.
But Seattle would tie things up when Josh Uhrich scored his first of two from Andreas Schumacher and Brandon Schuldhaus just a little over five minutes later.
Right before the first intermission, Brandon would retake the lead when Macoy Erkamps scored (assists to Jayce Hawryluk (the first of his five points on the night) and Ivan Provorov. That one came on the power play.
The Wheat Kings would score an insurance goal on their first shot of the second period (just 1:33 in) when Tyler Coulter found the back of the net (assists to Hawryluk and Nolan Patrick).
But from there, Seattle began to apply pressure. They cut the Brandon lead to 3-2 when Uhrich scored his second of the game from Jarret Tyszka and Mathew Barzal at 2:38 of the second period. It would take them less than a minute to tie things up at three. Jarret Smith scored at 3:09 off assists from Barzal and Ethan Bear on the power play to knot things up.
It stayed that way for most of the second period until, at 12:38, Alexander True, the hero of game four, scored from Cavin Leth and Smith to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. But Brandon would not go away quietly. With just over a minute left in the second frame, Hawryluk came through to tie things up at four. McGauley had the lone assist.
If the second period showed Brandon’s resiliency to stay in the game, then the third showed that they had the heart of a champion. Patrick scored the game winner just 2:55 into the final period off assists from Mitch Wheaton and Kale Clague, and from there, the Wheat Kings just poured it on. It was just their second shot of the third frame.
Hawryluk scored his second of the game at 6:19 from Coulter and Patrick to make it 6-4. This goal came on the power play. At 16:41, Hawryluk completed the hat trick when he scored unassisted into an empty net.
Stelio Mattheos would also add an empty netter at 19:40 (assist to Duncan Campbell) to ice the game for Brandon and bring the WHL championship to the Manitoba city.
Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny saw 31 Seattle shots and was equal to 27 of them in the win. For the T-Birds, Landon Bow saw 37 shots, grabbing 31 of them.
The win wrapped up the Wheat Kings’ 4-1 series victory over the T-Birds. Brandon had previously defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings four games to two, the Moose Jaw Warriors four games to one and the Red Deer Rebels four games to one before meeting the Thunderbirds in the final round.
The win sealed them the Ed Chynoweth Cup and the WHL championship.
Nolan Patrick ended the playoffs as the leading scorer with 30 points, Hawryluk right behind him with 29 points and Quenneville behind him with 27 points.
With this win, the Wheat Kings also punched their ticket back to Red Deer, Alberta at the end of May and the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament. They will play in a round robin with the host Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, the London Knights (champions of the OHL) and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (champions of the QMJHL). The games will take place from May 19-29 at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer. Brandon will begin the tournament on Saturday, May 21 against Rouyn-Noranda.