At the start of the week the Muncton Wildcats hockey team won its second President’s Cup – the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s championship trophy – and a Yukoner was on board.
Whitehorse’s Ted Stephens, 19, was not only on the ice, he was on the board, registering an assist in the 7-4, Game 6 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs Monday in front of a sold out home crowd. The assist represented Stephens’ 20th post-regular season point, bringing him up to 59 on the season.
The third-year centre is now in Brandon, Manitoba, with his team for the Memorial Cup, Canada’s junior hockey championships, and is the first Yukon-born player to reach the tournament.
“It feels great to be here and it’s definitely an honour to be from Whitehorse and playing in the Memorial Cup,” said Stephens. “I’m going to try and make the best of it and the team is as well.”
Getting to the Memorial Cup was no small task – in fact, it was historic. On the road to capturing the President’s Cup, the Wildcats became the only team to defeat two opposing squads with more than 100 points on the season in the championship. In fact, the Wildcats defeated four teams that averaged 97 points – another first.
“We knew going in that we were going to have the toughest road to win the President’s Cup out of all the teams in our league,” said Stephens. “We started with Cape Breton in the first round and they were one of the top five teams in the league, so even in the first round we had a hard team.
“Every series was a tough series against tough opponents.”
The Wildcats have drawn the Calgary Hitmen in the first round of the Memorial Cup and will play their first game Saturday. For Yukoners who cannot make the trip to Brandon, all the Memorial Cup games will be aired nationally on Rogers Sportsnet.
“I think the biggest thing is just playing our game,” said Stephens. “When we play our game well, we know we’re one of the best teams in the country.
“We don’t know much about Calgary, but it’ll be cool playing against them.”
At just 17, Stephens was invited to play for the Wildcats by head coach Danny Flynn while conducting an annual hockey skills camp in Whitehorse. Although he started his Quebec league career quietly, accumulating just five points in 42 games in his first season, he became a force to be reckoned with in his second season, exploding stats with 41 points in 53 games.
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