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Kings Draft Pick Lifts Championship Trophy

(Courtesy of Darnell Duff Р730CKDM) 

They knew before the season even started that they had something special.

After heartbreakingly falling to the Winnipeg Wild in the playoffs the previous year, the Brandon U18 Wheat Kings had one thing on their mind and that was to win a championship. As the 2023-24 regular season went on, the Wheat Kings continued to prove night after night that they were in a class of their own.

The team’s only defeat all season was an overtime affair when they came up short against the Southwest Cougars. Besides that, Brandon ran the table as they finished the regular season at 43-0-1. This year’s team included a duo from the Parkland, and they played a massive factor in the team winning a championship.

Brady Turko of McCreary scored 41 goals while finishing the regular season with 90 points and Easton Odut of Dauphin finished with 63 points. 153 points combined by the Parkland stars helped Brandon achieve a historic season and one that may never be matched again.

“It was crazy how we went the entire season without a loss,” offered Odut. “We love the feeling of winning and we wanted to win every time we hit the ice. It was pretty awesome that we broke so many records along the way.”

Finishing 29 points ahead of Southwest for first place overall, the Wheat Kings entered the playoffs as heavy favourites and they opened their first best-of-three series by scoring 26 times in a three-game sweep of the Eastman Selects. They followed that up by posting another 14 goals in sweeping the Pembina Valley Hawks. Then just one team stood in the way of Brandon capturing Manitoba’s glory.

The final just so happened to be against the Winnipeg Wild, a team that broke the hearts of the Wheat Kings in the previous playoffs. Holding a two-games to one lead over the Wild last year, the Wheat Kings had two chances to advance to the league final; however, the Wild stormed back winning two straight to send Brandon home packing.

With a great memory of what happened, Odut says that fuelled the team to not let that happen again. Then Colten Worthington scored the game-winning goal 1:23 into overtime as the Wheat Kings completed a three-game sweep in the league final. It brought the team’s record to 52-0-1 on the season and with it, they were named Manitoba champions.

“Brandon hasn’t won in a long time, so it’s pretty incredible to get the job done with our amazing group,” said Odut. “The Wheat Kings have historically not done very well against the Wild in the playoffs, so for us to be able to get the job done and break so many records along the way, it’s awesome.”

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Along the way this year, Easton also had the chance to play seven games in the Western Hockey League with the team that drafted him 34th overall in the U15 Draft in 2022. He had one assist across those contests.

“I enjoyed my time, it was a lot of fun and more competitive,” said Odut. “I’m happy that I got some playing time, so I am used to that pace and level of play moving forward.”

While he continues to keep his eye on how the big club is doing as their playoff series against Moose Jaw has now begun, Odut is preparing for the Telus Cup West Regionals that begin on Thursday in Winnipeg.

Brandon will be joined at the four-team event by the Thunder Bay Kings, Winnipeg Wild, and Saskatoon Blazers. Playing a round-robin, the top-ranked team will go up against the second-ranked team after the first three days of round-robin play.

The winner of that championship game advances to the Telus Cup National Championship in Nova Scotia later this month.

For Easton, getting the chance to play in a national championship would be a dream come true and the Wheat Kings are entering the regional event confident and ready to go.

“We all work together, and we all work hard,” ended Odut. “We trust each other, and we believe that we can do it. If we play our systems and stick with the process, we know that we can do some damage.”

All games will be played at the Hockey for All Centre.