Lynden McCallum was born in Portage La Prairie and that’s where he played his minor hockey. When he was 13, he made the move to Brandon where he would join the U14 Wheat Kings in the 2013-14 season.
The 21-year-old moved up the ladder and his 14 playoff points in the 2017-18 season helped Brandon advance to the Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League’s championship final, where they would come up short against the Winnipeg Wild.
But his time as a Wheat King was truly just set to begin. Lynden played in five games with the WHL’s Wheat Kings that season. And now three years later, Lynden is one game away from ending his junior career with the only team he has ever played for in the league, the Brandon Wheat Kings.
McCallum refers to himself as a Brandon boy and he says the last few years have been the best of his life.
“It’s been a dream come true playing with the Wheat Kings,” said McCallum. “I used to drive to Brandon to watch games when I lived in Portage. To go from playing U14 in Brandon to finishing my junior career with this team, it’s really special to me.”
Lynden has played 131 games as a Wheat King and it’s his second-last that will go down as the most explosive. Playing the Regina Pats on Sunday night, McCallum scored four times as Brandon skated past the Pats, 5-1. All four of Lynden’s goals game on the power play as the team went 4-for-5 on the man advantage. His goals followed Ridly Greig’s 10th of the season, 7:53 into the opening frame.
“We have great players on this team and that’s what can happen when you play with players of this calibre,” offered McCallum. “Everything just seemed to click, it was great to be a part of.”
With his four goals, Lynden has now surpassed his total from all of last season. In 59 games last season before the campaign was canceled, McCallum found the back of the net 18 times and he had 33 points. With his four-goal outing, Lynden now has 19 goals this season which gives him one extra marker and he’s played 38 games fewer. Lynden is also one of the team’s assistant captains this season.
“I did a lot of work in the off-season to get ready for this year,” said McCallum. “I worked on trying to become a more consistent player. There were flashes last year where I showed what I could do, but I’ve really been focusing on getting it done every night this year.”
Heading into their game against Regina, Brandon had won six straight games and the last time they lost was on Sunday, April 11. Brandon’s streak allowed them to jump up atop the division and on Sunday, the Wheat Kings clinched their 14th division title.
With just two games left on their schedule, the most points the Winnipeg ICE can finish with is 37 and Brandon already has 38, with one game remaining. The Blades who at one point led the division can finish with a maximum of 35.
Brandon’s 18 wins are the most in the league and their 102 goals are also the most. The Edmonton Oil Kings — who have dominated the Central Division with a 17-1-0-1 record — have scored 88. The Wheat Kings are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
“It feels great, winning the division was our goal from the very start,” said McCallum. “We said that we wanted to be the best team here and we believed in our group. We stayed discipline as a team and we did what we needed to do.”
Although Brandon’s season finale on Wednesday has no real meaning in the standings, McCallum says the team wants that win.
“We want that game just as we’ve wanted every single game this season,” ended McCallum. “There are a lot of junior players that didn’t get the chance to play this year, so to be given that chance here in Regina is a blessing and we’re taking advantage of every second.”