Wheaties AAA champs

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

It was a dead giveaway.

A Winnipeg player gave the puck away in his own end and the Thrashers were dead.

Brandon's Shayne Wiebe pounced on the faux pas and set up Ian Campbell for the goal that won both the game and the provincial title with 30 seconds left.

The win gave the Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory at a jam-packed Gateway Recreation Centre yesterday to win the best-of-five Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League Championship 3-2.

"I couldn't have asked for a better setup from Wieber," said Campbell, the team captain. "I just got the puck on my stick and put it in, that was awesome.

"I fired and it might have ticked off his blocker and it snuck in there ... I can't describe it, I was jacked. It was awesome."

'BRUTAL'

Not so awesome for the Thrashers, who led through most of the match.

"Brutal," said Winnipeg coach Kevin Benson. "It was a brutal way to lose. You know, it was a nice shot, I guess, but not exactly the way you want to lose it -- coughing the puck up in your own end.

"Hats off to Brandon, they worked hard. They made it really tough on themselves coming in here after losing two straight and playing in our barn. I give them a ton of credit for bringing it."

Wiebe had given Brandon a short-lived 3-2 lead with five minutes left, but Winnipeg's Adam Hughesman tied it up 23 seconds later. Then came Campbell's last-minute heroics.

"It's a game of mistakes," said Brandon coach Craig Anderson. "Obviously, they made the last one and we capitalized and ended up winning the provincial championship. One of the things that motivated us is that we finally got the respect that we feel we deserve in the league, and right now it's a great feeling being provincial champions.

"We're happy with where we're at, and no, we move on to the regionals with some momentum and see how we go from there. We'll be playing them (Thrashers) again and we're looking forward to it. We had some great games and it should be a good tournament."

The Wheaties were already in the regionals, which start Thursday, as the host, meaning the Thrashers were guaranteed a spot as finalists.

"It feels good to be able to go in the front door as league champions," Campbell said.

Sanfred King and Curtis Brolund also scored for Brandon while Brendan Shinnimin and defenceman Paul Sohor had the other markers for Winnipeg.

"We had some guys working pretty hard and just didn't find what we needed," Benson said. "Our 'A' game evaporated for this entire series, quite frankly. We didn't get enough out of our big guys and we'll have to be better in the regionals if we want to move forward.

"I just told the guys that the only way to erase the pain of this is to win at the nationals."


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