Brandon fans celebrate as Wheat Kings return home after WHL championship win
Hat-trick from Jayce Hawryluk helped team trounce Seattle Thunderbirds 8-4 to win Ed Chynoweth Cup
Hundreds of hockey fans gave players with the Brandon Wheat Kings a warm welcome when they returned home Saturday after winning the Western Hockey League's Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The Wheaties trounced the Seattle Thunderbirds 8-4 on Friday in Kent, Washington, to win the title.
Before heading on to the Memorial Cup in Red Deer, Alta., the team landed back in Brandon Saturday night. They arrived to a group of loyal fans waiting at the UCT Pavillion between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to celebrate the win — Brandon's first WHL championship since 1996.
Fans met with the players, grabbed a bite to eat and had autographs signed at the event.
With Friday's big win, the Wheat Kings have won the WHL championship three times since entering the league in 1967. The team won once in 1979 and then not again until 1996.
'We've got a family hockey team here'
"This is wonderful. It's a long time coming — 20 years since they won the last one," Larry said. "They had a good team all year and we were hoping for this result. Worked out good."
Part of what makes being a Wheaties fan worthwhile is that the team attracts so much support from the close-knit local community, Morrie said.
"We've got a family hockey team here, and we always have and I think that's why we've got a winning team," Morrie said.
"The fans are behind them 100 per cent. It's too bad they couldn't do it at home but we were watching and we were cheering. I'm sure they heard us from here. We were pretty pumped."
The Wheaties' first game in the 10-day Memorial Cup is against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Saturday, May 21.