Rare Performance Provides Trip down Memory Lane
Jayce Hawryluk's five-goal game on March 2 provided Wheat Kings' fans with an opportunity to witness something they've rarely seen.
For me, it provided an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. Following the game that night, I spent roughly two hours after the game that night trying to find out when the last time a Brandon player had scored five goals in game. While I didn't discover the answer to the question, I did get a chance to enjoy looking back on my collection of game sheets.
This is my 23rd season as the play-by-play voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings. I have every EVERY game sheet from EVERY game I've ever called in my office at CKLQ, roughly 1,900 of them. The WHL's online records only go back to 1996-97, so my research focused on the players you would have expected to have had an opportunity. For example, Eric Fehr scored 109 goals in the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons combined -- he had six hat-tricks in that span including one four-goal game. You remember Fehr scoring 59 goals in 2004-2005. I remember him missing an Patrik Stefan-style empty-net goal in Prince George in late October, after which Dustin Byfuglien (yes, that Dustin Byfuglien) scored with 38 seconds left in regulation to help the Cougars salvage a 4-4 tie with Brandon. That goal for Fehr would have added one more to his total for the year, giving him 60. And, by the way, Ryan Stone would have assisted on that goal -- and he would have finished with 100 points instead of 99.
One of the members of the four-goal club is Michael Ferland, who did it on February 18, 2012. I'm reminded that Ferland's Wheat Kings' teammate Mark Stone scored 106 goals in 232 career games. Stone had a grand total of two hat-tricks during his entire WHL career or one more than he had in six games at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Brayden Schenn had a dynamic three seasons with the Wheat Kings from 2008 to 2010, scoring 94 goals and 258 points. Schenn not only ever had a four-goal game; he never had a hat-trick in his Western Hockey League career. His 'baby-blue' linemates Matt Calvert and Scott Glennie (pictured below) had three and two hat-tricks respectively while playing with Schenn in Brandon. Jesse Sinatynski had one.
Other four-goal scorers include Jay Fehr (December 11, 2009), Ryan Craig (October 30, 2002) and Kirby Law (December 12, 1997). It was Fehr's only hat-trick of his WHL career, but he would go on to score a fairly important goal later that season (overtime winner in the Memorial Cup semifinal). Craig's four-goal game came in his sixth game back after missing the first month of the season while recovering from off-season knee surgery. Craig's performance in the 2002 playoffs, which playing with torn ACL and MCL, was one of the grittiest performances I've ever witnessed.
I'm reminded Kirby Law was on his way to winning the WHL scoring title (32 goals, 78 points in 49 games) before he broke his leg in late January. I'm reminded that Brandon beat Regina in five games in the SECOND round of the playoffs that year, but things 'would have been different' if Pats' star forward Josh Holden wasn't injured and out Regina's lineup. Law returned to the Wheat Kings' lineup -- for the THIRD round of the playoffs.
Perry Bergson at the Brandon Sun has been writing some great pieces the last few weeks on players from Brandon's 1995-96 Western Hockey League Championship team. Looking back on the score sheets reminded me that for all the stars on the Wheat Kings that year (Chris Dingman, Mike LeClerc, Wade Redden, Cory Cyrenne, Peter Schaefer, Bob Brown, etc.), it was fourth-liner Vinnie Jonasson scored Brandon's 'championship goal'. It was the opening goal in Brandon's 3-0 win in Spokane in the fifth game of the league championship series that year, giving the Wheat Kings four games to one win in the series.
I also remember that Jonasson was almost not on the team that year, but his versatility and some injury issues through the year for Brandon meant the club kept holding on to him --right up until the end of the season.
Or the game in Brandon at February 16, 1996, when Prince Albert beat the Wheat Kings 4-2 and moved the Raiders five points ahead of Brandon for first-place in the East Division. After the game, Raiders' netminder Blaine Russell declared the race for the East Division pennant 'over'. Little did he know that Brandon would not lose another game in the regular season, winning 13 in a row to finish with a 52-19-1 record and five points ahead of the Raiders. (By the way, the Wheat Kings also won their first ten games of the playoffs for a 23-game winning streak overall -- the second-longest in WHL history).
Most of you know current Wheat Kings' assistant coach Darren Ritchie was a pretty good sniper in his days in the WHL. 62 goals during the 1994-95 season while riding shotgun for Marty Murray is the proof. A little known (and perhaps forgotten fact) about that year for Ritchie. He scored his 50th (and 51st) goal of the season in the club's 49th game that year (January 25, 1996). 50 goals - 49 games. Darren Gibbs was one of the linesmen for that game. He's gone on to work more than 1,000 games in the NHL.
When all was said and down (and with some help from Wheat Kings' fans and listeners), we believe the last time a Wheat Kings' player scored five goals in a game was December 7, 1990. Greg Hutchings scored six times in a 14-4 home-ice win over the Portland Winterhawks. The reason I found it -- the Winterhawks put out a 25th anniversary guide a few years ago that I found on the internet. In it, they posted the best performances of opponents against Portland. Brian Propp had his seven-goal game against Portland -- in 1979. Etc., etc., etc.,