Hawryluk’s hat-trick powers Wheat Kings past Thunderbirds for WHL title

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

Panthers’ prospect Jayce Hawryluk recorded a hat-trick and 3 assists for the Brandon Wheat Kings in Friday’s WHL Championship series-clinching victory to help the team earn the league’s coveted Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in 20 years. Hawryluk is the only player in the entire Panthers organization still in action with his regular season team; the rest finished their seasons weeks ago.

Drafted by the Panthers with the 32nd pick in the 2013 Draft, Jayce Hawryluk has been biding his time in the Western Hockey League. Now in his 4th and final season in the league, some of his dreams finally came to fruition on Friday night as he tallied 6 points, including a hat-trick, to lift the Brandon Wheat Kings past the Seattle Thunderbirds helping them win the league title for the 3rd time in franchise history.

“Amazing,” said Hawryluk when asked how it sounds to be a WHL champion. “I can’t put it in to words right now. This team, we’ve been through so much together; we never once thought we couldn’t reach this goal.”

“It’s so hard to sum that up in such little time,” said Hawryluk when asked what it means to be a part of this Wheat Kings team. “I’ve been here for 4 years, started from the bottom, didn’t even make the playoffs and was last in the league. Ever year we just got better and better.”

The 20-year old right-winger set up a go-ahead goal early in the 1st period on the power play for his first point of the night:

He proceeded to set up an insurance goal early in the 2nd period with a no-look, backhanded pass:

The flood gates then opened for Hawryluk who went on to record a hat-trick in less than a period’s worth of time. The first goal was the product of an incredible move by his teammate as well as Hawryluk’s hockey sense which allowed him to see the play develop before it even happened. His 3rd assist of the game came during a cycle play on the next Brandon goal, however he’s yet to be officially credited with the point.

His second goal came in the 3rd period as he somehow put in a one-timer from what was almost an impossible angle and distance:

Although the hat-trick goal came by way of an empty-netter, he made it well worth it by slinging the puck down the ice – without hesitation – from the opposite end of the rink.

In addition to winning the WHL championship, Hawryluk and his team also punched a ticket Red Deer where the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup will take place this coming week. The Wheat Kings will take part in a round-robin tournament which includes the OHL champion London Knights, the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, and the Red Deer Rebels who are hosting the tournament. The winner of the tournament is awarded the Memorial Cup and bragging rights as the best team in the entire Canadian Hockey League, and for Hawryluk, it’ll be his first visit despite playing 4 years of junior hockey. The Roblin, Manitoba-native finished the WHL playoffs with 7 goals and 22 assists in 21 games played.

Stay tuned to Cats on the Prowl both here and on Twitter for full coverage of Hawryluk at the Memorial Cup as him and his team take on the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Saturday, May 21st in their first game of the tournament.

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