Rylan Thiessen was instrumental in the Brandon U18 Wheat Kings playoff run in the 2018-19 season in the Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League.
After a 30 point regular season, Thiessen erupted in the playoffs as Brandon went on to defeat the Winnipeg Wild as they were crowned league champions. In just 11 playoff games, the 19-year-old that grew up in Brandon scored five times and he added 14 assists which earned him the playoff’s most valuable player honours. In three more games at the Telus Cup West Regionals, Thiessen scored another goal while adding two assists as the Wheat Kings came up short in their quest for a spot at the nationals.
Rylan also played three games that season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The following season, Rylan returned to Lethbridge where he would play in 22 more games, before packing up his bags. On Wednesday, December 4, 2019, Thiessen was traded to the Brandon Wheat Kings, a move that would see him join the team he grew up watching.
Rylan says it was tough moving away from a team that listed and signed him after going undrafted, but he was happy to be moving back home.
“I made quite a few relationships in Lethbridge, so the news of being traded was a bit of a shock,” said Thiessen. “With that said, I was getting the chance to play with my childhood dream team. I was really excited when I sat down and things are going really well here.”
Following the trade, Rylan produced three assists in 14 games with his hometown team last year. And now, Rylan has achieved a big milestone. Playing in his 53rd career WHL game — and 28th with the Wheat Kings — Thiessen found the back of the net for the first time on Wednesday night. In a 6-1 rout of the Swift Current Broncos, Rylan scored his first goal with 56 seconds left in the second period. Ben McCartney and Jake Chiasson picked up the assists on the monumental goal for the young man.
“It felt really good. Not only scoring in the WHL, but for it to happen with the Brandon Wheat Kings, it’s a real thrill,” offered Thiessen. “I grew up thinking and dreaming of scoring with the Wheat Kings and now that I’ve achieved that dream, it’s a great feeling.”
Rylan admits that scoring a goal was something that was high up on his list of things to do and at times, he was getting frustrated, but that frustration is now gone out of the window and in this case, the doors at the Brandt Centre.
“Scoring goals makes you play more confident so I’m going to try and build off of it and keep going in the right direction,” said Thiessen.
East Division domination:
Ben McCartney’s 12 goals and 20 assists give him a team-leading 32 points while Ottawa Senators prospect Ridly Greig is just behind with his 27 points.
Five Wheat Kings have at least 20 points while Nate Danielson, the team’s fifth-overall pick in the 2019 draft leads all rookies on the team with three goals and 10 assists.
Just three more games remain this season for Brandon with dates against Prince Albert (April 24), Regina (April 25), and Saskatoon (April 28). Brandon will enter their game on Saturday with five straight wins and they’ve won eight of their last 10 games, with points coming in nine of the games. Brandon’s 34 points are the most in the league and their 16 wins are also the most.
Brandon’s hot play has them three points ahead of both Saskatoon and the Winnipeg ICE for the top spot in the East Division as the team continues to battle for the Subway Cup, given to the team with the most points after 24 games.
“It’s always fun being in a winning environment and it’s been like that basically the whole time here in Regina,” said Thiessen. “We’re looking to keep this going for our final three games, we want that division championship to be ours.”
So what makes this year’s Brandon Wheat Kings team special? Well, they have great coaching, they score a lot, and they all have one common goal in mind and that’s to have success as a team.
“We have a deep roster with a veteran defensive core,” ended Thiessen. “We come to play every night. We wear teams down with our speed and our hard work, it’s hard to handle us.”