Wheaties' Hamonic get second chance

KEN WIEBE, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 2:36 PM ET

BRANDON — The all-important second chance is finally here for Travis Hamonic.

Robbed of an opportunity to compete for Canada in the gold medal game at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon after he was hit from behind by Swiss forward Jeffrey Fuglister in the final minute of the semifinal and suffered a separated shoulder, Hamonic is now one win away from helping the Brandon Wheat Kings win their first Memorial Cup.

The pride of St. Malo provided some levity when discussing the moment with a group of reporters after Sunday’s morning skate.

“Yeah, obviously I had my doubts about going for the morning skate in case I got an injury,” quipped Hamonic, who was acquired by the Wheat Kings at the Western Hockey League trade deadline from the Moose Jaw Warriors. “I made it through the skate and pending me falling on the way back to the hotel, I think we’ll be all right.”

All joking aside, Hamonic understands what stands in front of him and is determined to finish his junior hockey career with a national title.

“I promised myself if I ever got a second chance at a big championship that I’d hold onto it with both hands, grasp it and play the best that I can,” said Hamonic, who had a goal and three points in Friday’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Calgary Hitmen in the semifinal. “If I could play 60 minutes, I’d play 60. It’s one of those situations where you want to be on the ice as much as possible. I’m going to try and do whatever it takes to win because this is my last kick at the can at the Memorial Cup and obviously, I want to go out with a bang.

“For myself personally, it’s a huge opportunity but for our team as well, the city of Brandon and the province of Manitoba, it’s a huge opportunity.”

The last Manitoba-based team to win the Memorial Cup was the Winnipeg Braves, who defeated the Peterborough Petes 4-1 in a best-of-7 series.

The Wheat Kings are competing in their fifth Memorial Cup and haven’t been to the championship final since 1979, when they lost 2-1 in overtime to the Petes.

The Spitfires — who thumped the Wheat Kings 9-3 in the tournament opener — are attempting to become the first team to repeat as Memorial Cup champions since the Kamloops Blazers did it in 1995.

There has been some question as to how the Spitfires (3-0 during the round robin) might come out of the gate, since they haven’t played a game since Tuesday and already had a berth in the final clinched on Monday.

“Right now, we want to get this thing going. The boys have been waiting for this game all week,” said Spitfires captain Harry Young. “We’re no too worried about being rusty. Before this tournament, we had 10 days off and came out with a bang the first game. We’re going to be fine. If you can’t bring it for the championship game, you’re never going to.

“We love playing in these games. These are the games you wait for. We’ve got a competitive group and we love to win on this team.”

A strong start — which included four goals before the five-minute mark and five goals in the opening 20 minutes — was a key for the Spitfires in the tournament opener and you can expect them to try to come out strong and try to take the home crowd out of it.

“We’re not going to worry about the second and third period when we talk in the room, it’s all about how we come out and play in the first,” said Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner. “We never try to withstand. You want to have a solid first period and go after them and use our speed and our tempo. We’re not a team that sits back.

“We’re at our best when we’re working off the fore-check and our legs are going.”


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