By Carter Brooks
Photos by Dylan Asmundson

The players and staff making up the U-16 Team Manitoba left Red Deer, AB. this past October with gold medals around their necks.

For the first time in WHL Cup history, the team from Manitoba has come out on top. And they did so in dramatic fashion.

“Getting that first one for Manitoba is pretty sweet,” said RINK U17 Prep head coach Jeff Borse, who served as
the defensive coach for Team Manitoba. “We never had the mentality of just settling for silver. We were going for it. Like, we weren't scared to lose and we’re not on our heels; we're on our toes. And if we did end up losing, well, we’ve all had silver before, but it just worked out perfectly in our favour this year for sure.”

Winning the championship game against the home province of Alberta by way of a back-and-forth, 6-5 shootout triumph, Team Manitoba relied heavily on its roster of local talent, headlined by eight players representing the RINK’s U17 and U18 Prep teams.

“We had a lot of skill on the team,” Borse continued. “Of course. It's the Top-20 players in Manitoba, but I think what was more important for this group was that they fully bought in. The team chemistry was what set everyone apart from the rest. Manitoba has gone there six times before and just couldn't quite get over the hurdle. So, to do it with this group was really special.”

Facing off against Team Saskatchewan, Team Alberta and Team British Columbia, the Manitobans got the job done, despite owning the fewest first round WHL draft choices (British Columbia: 7, Alberta: 8, Saskatchewan: 4, Manitoba: 3). Team Manitoba proved that the only number that matters is the final score of the championship game, and to that point, they did not disappoint.

Suiting up from the RINK were forwards Koy Funk, Carter Haney, Aiden Jacobson, Zach Lansard and Layne Schofield, as well as defencemen Kaden Allan and Daxon Yerex. But the player that truly led the charge for Team Manitoba was netminder Peyton Shore.

“It wasn't just a one-line show, or anything like that,” Borse said. “We had tremendous goaltending from both guys, but Shore especially. Not sure if you can find a word for how good it was but words like stupendous and tremendous come to mind. Performances like his 58 saves through overtime and shootout, having performances like that, your hard work is going to beat the skill nine times out of 10.”

To top it off, Shore and his teammates making up the Team Manitoba WHL Cup roster were treated to greetings and well-wishes from alumni prior to puck drop in the championship games. Something, Borse says, that will go a long way for the 20 young men.

“For us, it's the support from back home that really meant the most,” he said. “The hockey world is quite a small community. We had Seth Jarvis, Morgan Geekie, some pretty big names sending us over videos wishing the boys good luck for the gold medal game. It really meant a lot when the boys watched it. You know, Sunday morning and Seth Jarvis still thinks about this and is wishing us good luck. Aside from the moms and dads and friends back home, that was really the extra push our guys needed.”

Carter Brooks | Game On Magazine