Thursday, 19 May 2016

Wheaton Brings Memorial Cup Experience

Mitch Wheaton
  The Brandon Wheat Kings are participating in the Memorial Cup for the first time since hosting in 2010, but at least one member of the team is there for a second straight year.

  Mitch Wheaton played in the Memorial Cup last year in Quebec City as a member of the 2015 WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets.

  "It's a crazy event.  You always hear about the Memorial Cup, and you get there and it's like 'holy'," said Wheaton earlier this week, "I remember stepping on the ice for the first time and see a team from a different league, and you're lost for don't know what to say or what they're going to do, really.  I guess what I can say is just be relaxed and calm as much as we can and just try to bring our game and not change anything."

  Wheaton played a couple of games at last year's Memorial Cup in Quebec City after being scratched for every game in the WHL Championship Series and playing a total of 13 regular season and playoff games in a season that was basically lost because of a shoulder injury.

  Even though he was a WHL Champion last year, Wheaton says he's felt much more a part of this year's playoff run with the Wheat Kings.

  "Last year, I was more cheering for the guys and was really happy when they won.  Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing feeling winning last year and just being a part of it but this year was completely different," said Wheaton, "Just going through what I have that last couple of years, being able to be a part of it right from the time I got traded here right up until we won it, it's been something I can't describe."

  The Wheat Kings arrived in Red Deer late Wednesday afternoon and will practice at the Centrium Thursday in preparation for their first game.

  One other thing about the Memorial Cup that'll be different than regular games, the extra exposure and media spotlight that'll be on the team.

  "There's family, there's lots of reporters, there's lots of media.  Last year, I don't think there was a day where you could go and just relax, there was always something to do, events or someone to talk to or seeing your family while you can," added Wheaton, "It's a crazy event and it goes by faster than you can ever imagine.  We just need to try and take it all in day-by-day."

  Brandon faces off with the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Saturday.

Chaff...the WHL's Vancouver Giants will unveil Brandon product and former Wheat King Glen Hanlon as their second GM in franchise history at a press conference on Thursday...the CHL, the Red Deer Host Organizing Committee and MasterCard Canada announced three pledges Wednesday to financially support the efforts of the Canadian Red Cross to help the community of Fort McMurray and those affected by the recent wildfires.  A minimum of $150,000 is to be donated.

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