Four more wins and Del Cowan will live the dream he thought had been lost.
Four more Calgary Hitmen games ending with radio voice Brad Curle’s call of “Sweeeeeeet victory!” followed by colourful colourman Ken Thrower warbling out Journey’s classic Don’t Stop Believing and Cowan will reach the Memorial Cup.
Just four more Ws ...
“I’m really not thinking about the Memorial Cup at all. I’m just thinking about a WHL championship,” Cowan said after he and the Hitmen knocked out the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday to reach the WHL championship final.
“That’s such a hard trophy to win with all the playoff series you need to win. Four wins away, but they’ll be tough wins and they’ll be a great challenge.”
A challenge he’s thrilled to have, especially after the circuitous route he took to get there.
The Eastern Conference champion Hitmen will face either the Tri-City Americans or the Vancouver Giants in the championship series, which begins Friday at the Saddledome.
Tri-City has a three-games-to-two lead on the Giants in the Western Conference final.
Cowan started the season with the Wheat Kings, but was the odd-man out when the Wheaties had to cut down their roster to three 20-year-old players. Goodbye to playing for the only WHL team he’d known.
Even worse. Farewell to the automatic berth to the Memorial Cup, which the Wheat Kings will host in May.
To make matters tougher, Cowan was picked up by the last-place Prince George Cougars in the ensuing waiver draft, which comes when clubs cut down their overage players.
The turn of events had the makings for a long, disappointing finish to his junior career, although Cowan did his best to see the upside.
“I was kinda happy to get away from home a bit,” said the left-winger who hails from the 450-person town of Hartney, Man.
“I played in Neepawa for junior A, which is two hours away, and Brandon is only 45 minutes away, so it was nice to get that room for a bit when you’re 20 years old. But to end up in Calgary was a dream come true.”
Only a couple of weeks after joining the Cougars, Cowan was dealt to Calgary for a conditional eighth-round bantam draft choice.
Considering he’s racked up three goals and 13 points in
18 post-season games, you can say the deal has worked out well for the Hitmen.
“It’s pretty special for him,” said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson.
“He’s such an incredible kid, young man, I guess. He’s had such a good approach since he arrived here.
“He plays hard, practises hard, kills penalties. He does all those things that don’t often get noticed. He’s getting attention now because people are realizing what he brings is so important, but he’s been so valuable since he came.”
Cowan helped put a nail in the coffin for Brandon when he set up Joel Broda’s opening goal in Friday’s 6-1 win. Could that be a hint of payback?
“It’s just special to get a chance at the final,” he insisted.
“I wasn’t trying to win any revenge against Brandon or anything like that. I was just trying to win for my teammates.”