For some, Friday was the last time they’re part of a team that made history – capturing the club’s first Western Hockey League title since 1996.
Captain Macoy Erkamps joined Brandon in a trade with Lethbridge in September of 2014, and says his two seasons with the Wheat Kings exceeded all his expectations.
“I think it was a storybook ending for my WHL career. I can’t thank the organization, staff, my teammates enough for the great year,” said Erkamps, “It’s been awesome and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Erkamps exits Brandon with a three-year entry-level contract in his back pocket after signing with the Ottawa Senators as a free agent in late March.
John Quenneville is another Brandon player that will be moving on to the pro ranks.
New Jersey’s 2014 first round pick played four seasons with the Wheat Kings, starting as a 16-year old rookie in 2012.
“I am so honoured and blessed to have the opportunity to play with the Wheat Kings,” said Quenneville, “These are memories tha are going to last a lifetime with me, these are friends that are going to be with me forever. Those are things you can’t put a price on. I’m just very lucky to have had that chance.”
Quenneville is going to take a little vacation with his family next week before returning to Brandon to pack up the last four years of his life.
Mitch Wheaton’s tenure with the Wheat Kings was much shorter, arriving in a trade with Saskatoon on January 4th.
However, his contributions to Brandon’s success likely can’t be measured by his stats.
The fun-loving Edmonton product became a key ‘glue’ guy during the second half of the season, and someone to mentor the club’s younger players including defence partner Kale Clague.
“I got accepted as soon as I got here, and it’ll be close to my heart. It’s a smaller town, and I wasn’t used to that,” said Wheaton, “I didn’t know what to expect...it’s unbelievable and I’m going to miss this place.”
Drafted by Detroit in 2013 but unsigned, Wheaton says he’ll take a few weeks to unwind and relax before deciding what he might do next season.
To a man, the Wheat Kings players talked about the tightness and chemistry of this year’s team, something that was a key component of this championship season.
“We had a special group this year and we were all best friends in there,” said Erkamps, “It’ll be hard to not come back next year but I’m real proud of what we did and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last year of junior.”