The Stanley Cup is coming back to Saskatchewan for the second year in a row.
Regina’s Tyler Bozak, along with Saskatoon’s Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz of Wilcox, Sask., helped the St. Louis Blues claim the championship in a 4-1 Game 7 victory against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. This is the first Stanley Cup win in the team’s 52-year history.
Fans celebrated the victory all over the province, including Wilcox, where Notre Dame College held a “Blue Day” in support of Schwartz, a former Hound.
“It’s unreal. You see him as a kid growing up, and next thing you know it’s the Stanley Cup Final Game 7, the game is over, he’s hoisting the cup,” said Jason MacLean, Schwartz former Midget AAA hockey coach. “It’s hard to believe.”
MacLean says at 15 years old, Schwartz was “by far one of the best players at that time,” leading the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with 111 points.
Schwartz, Schenn and Bozak were three of the Blues’ top seven scorers in both the regular season and playoffs. Schenn netted a goal in the final and Schwartz ended Wednesday night with two assists.
Darrell Davis, 980 CJME sports journalist, says if Schwartz continues on the same arc, he has a chance at being inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Jaden Schwartz has turned into a very solid player and a key member of the St. Louis Blues,” Davis said. “[Bozak and Schenn] are the typical Saskatchewan guys we talk about. The real role players on a hockey team. The guys you love to have, not the super stars. But every team needs a couple superstars and they also need some guys from Saskatchewan.”
The prairie talent comes from humble beginnings. Bozak learned to skate on an outdoor rink, while Schenn and Schwartz were opponents in their minor hockey days.
“They’re always humble it seems. They remember where they came from,” Davis said. “They all give credit to their parents, to the volunteers [and] to the coaches. They remember their roots and I think that’s always why you’ll find a Saskatchewan guy or two on a winning team.”
The Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby, born in Lloydminster, and Saskatoon’s Chandler Stephenson brought the cup back to Saskatchewan as part of the celebration tour in 2018.
In 2014, three Saskatchewan players from the L.A. Kings claimed the title. Before that, three locals hoisted the cup when Anaheim beat Ottawa in 2007. Back in 1980, five Saskatchewan boys helped the New York Islanders win the final.
“[Saskatchewan hockey] produces good solid players; they’re good teammates; they are always popular players,” Davis said. “They grew up on the outdoor rinks, continued progressing and worked their tails off to get there and that’s always the real hallmark of a Saskatchewan player.”
It’s unclear when the Stanley Cup will visit Saskatchewan for the celebration tour, but when it does, Davis says it’s sure to be a memorable trip.
“Once you get your name on the Stanley cup, it’s a special, very special thing and its tough to forget it. You don’t just wipe it away from history and the Saskatchewan hockey history is legendary.”
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