Saturday, July 19, 2014
July by the Numbers returns to Canada for jersey #19.
Founded in 1936 as a member of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, the Brandon Wheat Kings competed in the MJHL for two seasons prior to changing their name to the Brandon Elks for two seasons, which included winning the MJHL championship and the Turnbull Cup in 1938-39.
Following a five year hiatus for World War II, the club returned to the ice for the 1945-46 season as well as returning to the name Wheat Kings to reflect the agricultural nature of their surrounding community in western Manitoba. The club quickly found their stride, winning championships in 1947, 1949 and 1950. They also went on to capture the 1949 Abbott Cup as champions of all of western Canada after defeating the Calgary Buffaloes.
After competing for four more seasons through 1953-54, the club once again went dormant for four seasons from 1954-55 to 1957-58.
The 1953-54 Brandon Wheat Kings
Similar to their previous break during World War II, the Wheat Kings returned with a vengeance. After a third place finish in 1958-59, Brandon reeled off five consecutive first place finishes and converted that dominance into four league playoff victories in five tires, winning titles in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964, after a regular season record of 27-1-2! During their five year period of MJHL dominance, the Wheat Kings posted a combined record of 132-34-7.
After three more seasons in the MJHL, the Wheat Kings joined the Western Hockey League for the 1967-68 season where they found life a lot harder going, as it was not until ten seasons for them to achieve a first place regular season finish, all without any playoff success.
The 1976-77 club was led by the trio of Bill Derlago (a WHL record 96 goals and 178 points), Ray Allison (137 points) and Brian Propp (135 points) who took the top three places in the WHL scoring race. They repeated their first place finish in 1977-78 with Propp taking the scoring title with 182 points, but it all really came together in 1978-79 when the Wheat Kings set not only a WHL record, but a Canadian Hockey League (encompassing both the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as well) with a stellar 58-5-9 record for 125 points. Propp set the all-time franchise record, as well as setting a new WHL single season scoring record, with 194 points to take his second straight scoring title, 39 points clear of second place teammates Allison (153 points) and Laurie Boschman (149 points).
The 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon went on to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL playoff champions, which earned them a place in the Memorial Cup. While the Wheat Kings finished first in the round robin portion, they lost in the final 2-1 in overtime.
The Wheat Kings fell into a down period with 13 seasons with only one finish above 5th and eight seasons out of the playoffs. The highlight of this era was the 1983-84 season when Ray Ferarro set a WHL record with 108 goals on his way to a league scoring title with 192 points. Cam Plante also set an all-time league record with 140 points for a defenseman that same season.
Beginning in 1992-93, the Wheat Kings rebounded with back-to-back second place finishes before a trio of first place finishes from 1995 to 1997 and another Memorial Cup appearance in 1995 and a playoff championship and subsequent Memorial Cup appearance in 1996.
Five seasons later they were back on top once again for three of the next four seasons (2002, 2003 and 2005), but playoff success eluded them each time. In 2004-05 a trio of Wheat Kings again led the WHL in scoring - Eric Fehr (111 points), Ryan Stone (99 points) and Tim Konsorada (87 points).
Since then the Wheat Kings have managed a pair of first place finishes in 2006-07 and 2009-10, a season during which they also hosted the Memorial Cup and were able to reach the final.
Other notable players for Brandon include Ron Hextall, Brian McCabe, Brad McCrimmon, Jeff Odgers, Chris Osgood, Wade Redden, Jordin Tootoo and Oleg Tverdovsky.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Brandon Wheat Kings Ryan Robson jersey. This jersey uses the template of the Philadelphia Flyers traditional jersey where the stripe down the arm wraps around the wrists, a look that was much more popular back in the 1980's when it was also used by the Los Angeles Kings.