When the Brandon Wheat Kings picked up a 7-2 win against the Winnipeg ICE back on Remembrance Day, they achieved a couple of things. First, they picked up two points, bringing them within one point of the Moose Jaw Warriors for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s early, however, so that’s not the fact of the night worth noting.
The one that pops out is Brandon joined some very select company after the big win. The team’s ninth win of the season was their 1,800th win since they joined the Western Hockey League (previously known as the Western Canada Hockey League) in 1967.
The Wheat Kings joined the Medicine Hat Tigers as the only team/city in league history to reach the 1,800 win plateau.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our organization. It shows the consistency that we’ve had throughout the years,” said Darren Ritchie, head coach and general manager. “It’s a really nice tap on the cap for our organization.”
Darren has been a part of the organization for more than a dozen years, including the title-winning season in 2016. Since leaving the MJHL for the WHL in 1967, the Wheat Kings have gone 1800-1613-67-54.
Swan River’s Riley McKay and the Saskatoon Blades happen to be the next closest team to 1,800. They’ve won 1,763 games. Regina has won 1,737, while Kamloops has won 1,626. With their 12 wins this season, Medicine Hat has won 1,801 games.
The Wheat Kings will look to add to their win total this weekend. They begin a three-game Alberta road trip. They’re in Red Deer on Saturday, Edmonton on Sunday, and they complete things in Medicine Hat against the Tigers on Tuesday. With all things said, Brandon could jump over Medicine Hat for all-time wins with a successful trip.
“We just have to get better day-by-day,” said Ritchie. “We’re going into three arenas that are very tough to win in. It’s not going to be easy, and we have to be ready to play a hard 60 minutes each night.”
Despite being three games under .500 going into Alberta, the Wheat Kings have shown signs of excellent play this season. One of their most notable wins came against the Saskatoon Blades when they scored two goals in the last 1:05 to tie it before winning in a shootout. They’ve also beaten the Vancouver Giants who are expected to be title contenders.
Both of those wins came on home ice, but the team has shown signs of brilliance on the road as well. Back on October 22, Brandon put up a 10 spot against the Tri-City Americans.
“We’re improving, there’s no doubt about that. We feel like our players are getting better,” said Ritchie. “We’ve been in a lot of games, but we’ve just come up short. We’re happy with the improvement of our players.”
Red Deer enters the weekend at 5-11-0-2, while Edmonton leads the Central Division at 13-3-3-1, and Medicine Hat is third at 12-6-1. Brandon is 0-1 this season against Edmonton, while they’re 1-0 against Red Deer.
They have not played Medicine Hat this season.
Ritchie shared more on the keys to success.
“We’ve had long stretches where we have been good, but we haven’t played a full game at times,” concluded Ritchie. “I think our players are understanding that you can’t take any time off because the league is so competitive. Everyone’s looking forward to the opportunity for these three games.”
Come back all weekend long to find out how Brandon does in Alberta.