Brandon, MB. – The Wheat Kings have announced that they will have two special guests in attendance Friday night when they raise the curtain up on their 2015-16 Western Hockey League season against the visiting Swift Current Broncos at Westman Communications Group Place.
The WHL club has confirmed that former Wheat Kings Wade Redden andGeoff McIntosh will be on hand to participate in the ceremonial opening face-off, marking the official start of Brandon’s 49th season in the WHL, which is celebrating its 50th this year.
Both players have been named recipients of WHL Alumni Achievement Awards in the Scholastic and Professional Hockey Categories.
While Redden will be recognized as the recipient in the Professional Hockey Category, McIntosh will be honoured for his Scholastic achievements.
McIntosh played three seasons in the WHL, playing a total of 87 games, including 71 in Brandon. In addition to being tied with current Wheat King Jordan Papirny for sixth place on the club’s all time list for shutouts with six, the 32-year old Saskatoon native compiled a career goals against average of 2.81.
During his playing days, he played with the likes of Jordin Tootoo, Eric Fehr, Ryan Stone and Ryan Craig, who all went on to play in the NHL. For his part, he went in a different direction, taking full advantage of the Wheat Kings’ attractive scholarship program to help put him through dentistry school at the University of Saskatchewan. Following graduation, Geoff, his wife Adele and two daughters settled in Brandon, where he now owns Princess Dental.
McIntosh, who currently serves as the club’s Dentist, received more than $23,000 to cover tuition and books at the U of S and credits the League’s scholarship program for helping him realize his career goal.
“It was critical. That’s what allowed me to get into dentistry school, which was a big goal of mine,” McIntosh says. “With the scholarship program I was able to really focus on school, I didn’t have to go out and look for a job and work and do school at the same time.”
“Geoff’s story is a real good example and one that we’re proud of,” says Brandon General Manager and Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon. “It speaks accurately to the experience that a lot of the players have when they leave our league. This is a tremendous credit to Geoff that he has established himself in business the way he has.”
Redden meanwhile played 1,023 regular season games during a fourteen year National Hockey League career that saw him play for the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, scoring 109 goals and 457 points while posting a career plus-160 rating.
Chosen by the Wheat Kings in the first round (2nd overall) in the 1992 WHL Bantam Draft, Redden enjoyed three outstanding seasons in Brandon, scoring 27 goals and 153 points and was instrumental in Brandon capturing the League’s Title in 1996.
While Redden is one of only six former Wheat Kings to play in 1000 NHL games, he is one of only a handful of Brandon players to participate in back to back Memorial Cups – in 1995 (Kamloops) and ’96 (Peterborough). He was named to the tournament all star team in 1996.
“The Wheat Kings’ organization is tremendously proud of Wade’s career and this achievement award,” says McCrimmon. “He was a great player, played in two Memorial Cups and two World Junior tournaments as a Wheat King. More importantly, he’s a great person and he remains a proud member of our organization today.”
Redden set a career high in goals with 17 in the 2003-04 season, while his most productive campaign came in 2005-06 with Ottawa when he earned 50 points on 10 goals and 40 assists to go with a career-best plus-35.
The 50th WHL season officially gets underway Thursday night in Moose Jaw as the Warriors host Regina. The match-up is in honour of the two teams, who competed in the League’s first championship series in 1967.
“We are excited to celebrate the rich history of our League this season,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “We have been fortunate to have many talented players, excellent teams and exceptional people in the WHL since 1966, and we truly look forward to honouring these individuals and sharing the story of our League throughout our 50th Season.”
In addition to recognizing Redden and McIntosh before the game, the Wheat Kings will be unveiling three championship banners during what will be one of, if not the biggest, pre-game productions in club history.
Fans are encouraged to come out to the Keystone Centre early Friday night as The Brandon Sun Hockey House will open at 5:30pm in the MNP Convention Hall. In addition to offering a full course pre-game meal, a Kids Play Area will be set up – featuring inflatables from Sporty’s at Clear Lake, face painting and kids’ meals. The Wheat Kings Team Store will also open at 6:30pm.
Doors to Westman Communications Group Place will open at 6:30pm and fans should be in their seats early for the banner unveiling and special player introductions. Performing the national anthem on Friday night will be Beverley Wynne of Winnipeg.
The Wheat Kings, who captured the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as last year’s regular season champions with an impressive record of 53-11-4-4, compiled a 3-0-1-0 record in four pre-season games.