Brandon Wheat Kings off to the Memorial Cup

The Wheat Kings practice on the ice. Russ Hobson / Global News

The Brandon Wheat Kings departed for Red Deer on Wednesday, prepared to go where no Wheat Kings team has gone before.

Only four wins and three teams stand between the Wheatties and the team’s first ever Memorial Cup title.

“It’s gut-check time. It’s time for our guys to really show up.” said Wheat Kings forward John Quenneville. “Just finished winning the Western (Hockey) League championship. That can do a lot for a team. I think we feel really strongly about our team. We feel like the last few rounds has made our team better.”

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“It’s something we’ve been working forward to for a really long time now,” defenceman Mitch Wheaton said. “It’s something that you can’t explain in words. It’s an honour to be able to go to this tournament and it’s something we’re going to take advantage of.”

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This is the Wheat Kings fifth trip to the Memorial Cup in franchise history. They finished as the runner-up in two of those occasions. In 2010 as the hosts they lost the final to the Windsor Spitfires. No players remain from that team,but for experience at this event the Wheat Kings don’t need to look any further than teammate Mitch Wheaton. The defenceman was with the Kelowna Rockets when they lost the 2015 final to the Oshawa Generals.

“Every game is like a game 7. You don’t really know the team you’re playing against too much so you just got to worry about your team.” Wheaton said. “You lose one game and it helps every other team in the tournament but you really got to be careful about how many goals you let in, how many you score and you really have to be ready for every aspect of the game.”

After five seasons in Brandon Tim McGauley is the team’s longest serving member and at the age of 20 this will be his last crack at a Memorial Cup.

“Waited my whole life, my whole career for this moment. I was 17 coming in here. We weren’t a very good hockey club but I’ve come a long way with these guys and now we”re at this point. We’re so close to reaching our goal. We’re just only four games away.”

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“For any junior aged player the Memorial Cup is the ultimate, right, and they’re certainly thrilled and looking forward to the opportunity.” said general manager and head coach Kelly McCrimmon.

The Wheat Kings first game is on Saturday against the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

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