The Seattle Thunderbirds may have been more than 1,600 kilometres from their home rink when they won the WHL Championship, but for five Saskatchewan-born players, they were able to win much closer to home.
A loud contingent of Seattle fans could be heard throughout the game cheering on the visiting team through the ups and downs of a game that saw the Thunderbirds fall behind by two goals in the third, then come back to win in overtime.
Alexander True netted the game winner for Seattle 12 minutes into the first overtime. After that, it became a blur to Grenfell’s Donovan Neuls.
“I see it go in, I just jumped the bench, threw my stuff. I couldn’t tell you where it went, could be in the stands for all I care, but oh, what a game,” he said on the ice after the trophy presentation.
And to play in front of his family was icing on the cake.
“I never get to play in front of them, so us to do this? It’s crazy. I love every one of them, so it’s a great feeling.”
Another Saskatchewan player who had a large number of people to support him was Ochapowace First Nation’s Ethan Bear.
Bear could barely contain his glee after the win and sheer joy radiated off him as he skated around the ice with the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
“It’s amazing to look at all my family and all my friends, and you know I’m not the only guy from Sask. so I bet they feel the same and it just couldn’t be any better,” Bear said.
“Seeing all the crowd we had, it felt like home ice and without them, I don’t think we could have done it.”
The Thunderbirds also have two players from Yorkton, Turner Ottenbreit and Zack Andrusiak, and Tyler Adams from Regina.
Their next stop is the Memorial Cup in Windsor.