A little more than a year after Brandon’s Joel Edmundson had his local day with the Stanley Cup following the St. Louis Blues’ National Hockey League championship, more than a dozen other players either born in Westman or having played for the Wheat Kings join the former Brandon AAA U18 Wheat King under the most unusual of circumstances in playing for the 2020 version of the same honour beginning this weekend.
Following March 12’s regular season suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL returns to play this weekend with a playoff format that sees the top 12 teams in each conference by regular season points percentage qualify for the post-season. Each conference’s clubs are separated into what the league is referring to as Secure Zones in the chosen hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto where all games though televised/streamed will be played in arenas sans fans.
Each team has chosen 31 players, who will spend what could be more than two months separated from the rest of the world in bubbles that are to include closely-monitored hotels, arenas surrounded by construction fencing, various entertainment and recreation options and a selection of restaurants.
Among those chosen to teams’ 31-man rosters are Brandon-born Edmundson (Carolina), Jordan Martinook (Carolina), Matt Calvert (Colorado), Keegan Kolesar (Vegas) and Zach Whitecloud (Vegas). Also on rosters are Strathclair’s Morgan Geekie and Elkhorn’s Travis Sanheim.
Also of interest to local hockey fans will be former Wheat Kings Michael Ferland (Vancouver), Mark Stone (Vegas), Ryan Reaves (Vegas), Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia), Ryan Pulock (New York Islanders), John Quenneville (Chicago) and Brayden Schenn (St. Louis).
Nolan Patrick, though a Philadelphia Flyer, is not on the club’s post-season roster as the 21-year old former Wheat King star continues recovery from a migraine disorder.
Edmundson shares the Stanley Cup at a July 2019 gathering at the Keystone Centre (submitted)
Following exhibition games this week, post-season play begins on Saturday morning when Edmundson, Martinook and Geekie’s Hurricanes begin a best-of-five series at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena against the New York Rangers.
The Winnipeg Jets begin a best-of-five Stanley Cup Qualifiers series with the Calgary Flames on Saturday night in Edmonton.
By the time all is said and done, the Stanley Cup is scheduled to be awarded no later than October 4th, with the championship series between conference champions taking place at Edmonton’s Rogers Place in early fall.
Photo: Michael Martin/Colorado Avalanche