Wheaties thrilled with Cup run

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

BRANDON — One team is attempting to cement a legacy, the other is looking to make history.

As the 2010 Memorial Cup reaches its pinnacle Sunday (6 p.m. CT, Sportsnet), the host Brandon Wheat Kings face an uphill battle in the pursuit of the first national championship in franchise history.

Their opponent, the Windsor Spitfires, are a powerhouse team looking to become the first team since 1995 to put together back-to-back Memorial Cup championship runs.

Forward Matt Calvert grew up in Brandon as a Wheat Kings fan and delayed the start of his professional career to return for an overage season in the Western Hockey League.

Now, he’s only one win away from helping the franchise get to the top of the mountain of junior hockey.

“It’s awesome. This is obviously a dream come true for me, but there’s one more win that we need to get and that’s what our focus is on right now,” said Calvert. “It would be unbelievable. There’s a lot of history in Brandon. They’ve been around for a lot of years, and ever since I’ve been old enough to watch hockey, I’ve been here.

“They’ve had some great teams and have come pretty close, just not close enough. Now, I have a chance to be a part of a Memorial Cup champion. We’re one win away. There’s a good team standing in our way, but we’re going to give it our all and leave our best on the ice.”

The Wheat Kings are back in the Memorial Cup final for the first time since 1979 and realize the importance of coming through in the clutch.

“How fortunate are we to get a chance to play in a game like that? It’s a chance of a lifetime for our guys, and we want it to be fun,” said Wheat Kings head coach and GM Kelly McCrimmon. “We want to play well, we want to play hard, and we want to enjoy it.”

The two teams met in the tournament opener, and the Wheat Kings certainly weren’t at their best as the Spitfires administered a 9-3 spanking that included four goals in a span of only two minutes and 44 seconds.

That game was basically over before the five-minute mark, and the Wheat Kings plan to show they’re a much better team than that.

“Coming off the momentum of (Friday) night, that gives the guys some energy and confidence,” said Wheat Kings centre Jay Fehr, who delivered the overtime winner in Friday’s 5-4 semifinal win over the Calgary Hitmen. “It’s exciting. We’ve got a great opportunity, and we’re trying to make the best of it.”

The Spitfires haven’t played since Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Moncton Wildcats, and they’re expecting the Wheat Kings to come out strong.

“There’s a big difference in the way they’re playing,” said Spitfires forward Taylor Hall. “They had the 20-day layoff, and that didn’t help them. We expect a whole different team. Their crowd is going to be behind them, and it’s going to be a tough game for us.

“If we can quiet the crowd early, that would be a big bonus for us.”

Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner was adamant overconfidence wouldn’t be a factor.

“We talked about that,” said Boughner. “With no disrespect to Calgary, that was the problem (for them). That’s one thing we can’t do (Sunday). They’re a team that had 104 points, they’ve had a great regular season, and they’ve done a good job until now of getting to the final. We can’t overlook them.”


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