BRANDON — Brayden Schenn is waiting to see if the final chapter of his junior hockey career includes a Hollywood ending.
The Brandon Wheat Kings centre and co-captain has seen more than his share of plot twists during an exciting season that also included playing in the world junior hockey championship for Team Canada and suiting up unexpectedly for his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings against the Vancouver Canucks on a one-game amateur tryout offer.
The impressive laundry list of highlights is being capped off by participating in the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup as a member of the host team.
“It’s right up there, obviously,” said Schenn, the fifth-overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. “They say it’s one of the toughest trophies to win. It’s been everything we thought it would be, and more.”
For all the successes, there have been some tough losses for Schenn to endure, as well.
In January, playing in his hometown of Saskatoon, Canada lost a stunning 6-5 overtime decision to the U.S. at the world juniors. Settling for second place was a bitter pill for Schenn to swallow.
After a strong finish to the Western Hockey League season, Schenn had a quick start to the playoffs before he got banged up in the Eastern Conference final against the Calgary Hitmen.
Losing to the Hitmen in five games was disappointing, but the silver lining was it allowed Schenn some additional time heal his “lower-body” injury and get back to 100%.
Schenn was quiet in the tournament opener (a shaky 9-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires), but he and the Wheat Kings rebounded in style Sunday, earning a 4-0 win over the Moncton Wildcats.
Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon played Schenn against the Wildcats’ top line for much of Sunday’s game and thought his play in his own zone was even more important than the goal.
“At a tournament like this, with players at the level that they are, doing a good job defensively is such a big, big part of it,” said McCrimmon.
“Yet for those players who are used to scoring, it helps when they score.”
After burying a powerplay marker in the second period that gave the Wheat Kings some additional breathing room, the enthusiasm of his celebration showed how important it was for Schenn to get on the board.
“Definitely, it wasn’t the biggest goal in the hockey game but it certainly helped,” said Schenn, who had 34 goals and 99 points during the regular season and added eight goals and 19 points in 15 playoff games. “I haven’t scored in five or six games, so it’s a monkey off the back.”
The Kings are confident they made the right selection in Schenn and are happy with the way he’s progressing.
“We’re happy with his development and where he’s at right now. Brayden is becoming a better player and that’s what it’s all about,” Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall said from Manchester, N.H.
“You have to look at his overall game, his size, his strength, his range with the puck. There’s a lot of good things with him.”
Schenn’s all-around game and leadership shine through.
“Before I came to Brandon, I always preached that he was the hardest player to play against,” said Wheat Kings defenceman Travis Hamonic.
“He’s got world-class skill and speed and to go with that, he’s so strong.
“You try to knock him off the puck and it’s like trying to knock a bull off the puck. I can’t say enough good things about him.”