By Carter Brooks
Photo supplied by the Canadian Hockey League
On Sunday evening, the Swift Current Broncos won their first Western Hockey League championship in 25 years. It took the Broncos a full six games to put away the Everett Silvertips for their third WHL championship in franchise history.
After a back and forth series that saw each team pick up decisive victories, Swift Current sealed the deal with a 3-0 shutout win in their home barn.
Leading the way was WHL Playoff MVP and Broncos team captain Glenn Gawdin - who was recently named the CHL Player of the Week. Gawdin put up 14 goals and 32 points in 24 games played.
“I’ve been waiting five years for this moment,” Gawdin said. “How I’m feeling is tough to put into words. It was worth the wait. To win and to win with such a good group of guys makes it that much sweeter."
"Every night, we came to work for one another and each other," Gawdin continued. "That showed. The adversity we had to fight through this year, the ups and downs, we had some tough series but I think we got stronger as the playoffs went on. Now, we’re on top.”
Goaltender Stuart Skinner (CHL Goaltender of the Week) picked up his sixth shutout of the postseason, stopping all 31 shots faced in Sunday's victory.
“I was just having fun out there,” Skinner said. “I was just doing my best to stop the puck. Obviously, I have an incredible team in front of me doing their job as well - It was a team effort. The team won the Cup. I got those shutouts the team worked so hard and because we’re such a tight family; that’s the reason why we won tonight and that’s the reason why I got a shutout tonight."
The two Manitobans on the Swift Current Broncos also got their chance to skate around the rink with the cup. Defenceman Noah King and backup goaltender Logan Hofer (both from Winnipeg) were mainstays on the Broncos' roster all season.
Hofer (17) only saw 46 minutes of action in relief of Skinner in the 2017-18 postseason, but he managed to stop 14 of the 16 shots he faced in that period of time.
King (18) scored a goal, took 11 shots and two penalties, while finishing up the playoffs a plus five. He played in all 26 games for Swift Current.
Since last winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 1993, 13 different WHL teams took the league title between Swift Current championship seasons.
Not only did the Broncos make the prairie city of Swift Current proud, but also their home province of Saskatchewan. Since 1993, no Saskatchewan-based WHL has won the WHL championship. In the time since Swift Current last came out on top, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw have each failed to put together championship seasons.
The Broncos will now join those same Pats at the 100th running of the MasterCard Memorial Cup, hosted by Regina. The Hamilton Bulldogs (Ontario Hockey League champions) and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions) will be joining the two WHL teams in the national tournament running from May 17th-27th.
The Bulldogs will look to defend the OHL's title, as the Windsor Spitfires won the 2017 running of the Mem Cup. But with two WHL squads in the running this season, it may be the first time since 2014 (Edmonton) that a Western League team walks away victorious. Action from the Memorial Cup can be seen live on Sportsnet.