Brandon, MB. – Three former Western Hockey League Players of the Year, a current National Hockey League general manager and a popular analyst with TSN highlight the list of five players named to the Brandon Wheat Kings’ All Time Team, presented by The Brandon Sun
The team, as chosen by the fans, will consist of two goalkeepers, six defencemen and 12 forwards by the time the entire roster has been unveiled later this month.
During Sunday afternoon’s Western Hockey League game between Brandon and Regina at Westman Place, the club’s third line and third defence pair was announced.
The forwards include Marty Murray, Ray Ferraro and Eric Fehr while the first two defencemen to be named were Keith Aulie and Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Known for his physical, hard nosed defensive style, Cheveldayoff was chosen by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Following an injury shortened career on the ice, the Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan product retired and turned his attention to building teams. The current general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, “Chevy” went on to capture a Stanley Cup in Chicago, two Calder Cups in the American and four Turner Cups in the International Hockey League.
As a Wheat King that spanned 1986-1990, he scored twelve goals, 81 points and accumulated 715 penalty minutes in 214 career games.
“I am not only honoured to have been a part of the Wheat King family, but I am humbled to have been recognized by the fans alongside the great players that have been a part of the fifty year history of the franchise in the WHL,” says Cheveldayoff. “Thank you to the City of Brandon, all the fans of this great team and the entire Wheat King organization for some of the best memories and friendships of my hockey career and life.”
“This is a very special moment that I am so proud to be able to share with my family and all of you,” he added.
Joining him on the blueline as the team’s third pairing is another former captain Keith Aulie, who was Brandon’s first round bantam draft choice in 2004.
A native of Rouleau, Saskatchewan, Aulie played four seasons in Brandon, scoring twelve goals and 61 points in 234 career games. A member of the 2009 gold medal winning Canadian entry at the World Junior Hockey Tournament, Aulie is a former WHL Scholastic Player of the Year and fourth round draft choice of the Calgary Flames.
Aulie, who is currently skating with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, has played in 167 NHL games since turning professional in 2010.
“I was shocked to be honest when I received the news,” says Aulie. “It’s an honour to be chosen. So many good players have gone through Brandon…pretty cool to see how many are on that list.”
His greatest memories of playing in Brandon?
“We did have some good teams in Brandon and I remember playing in the playoffs…the atmosphere. That’s what I remember most.”
“Looking back on it,” Aulie went on to say. “My time in Brandon really shaped me as a person off the ice more than as a player.”
The pride of Lyleton, Manitoba, Marty Murray is another former captain who helped to turn the Wheat Kings’ franchise around in the early nineties following a blockbuster trade with the Spokane Chiefs. Murray played four seasons in Brandon, scoring 132 goals and 392 points in 264 career games. He’s currently seventh on the club’s all time scoring list.
A draft choice of the Calgary Flames, Murray is a 2-time World Junior Hockey Tournament gold medal winner, a 2-time WHL First Team All Star and in 1994-95, he was named the WHL’s Player of the Year after helping Brandon reach the League Championship Final for the first time in sixteen years.
“It was a tremendous honour to play four seasons with one of the CHL’s most storied franchises,” says Murray, who currently coaches Minot in the North American Hockey League. “I learned so much, both on and off the ice during my time in Brandon. I can’t express enough gratitude to Bob Cornell, Kelly McCrimmon, Bobby Lowes and Mark Johnston for the passion they brought every day to make us better as a team and individuals.”
“As we all know, in order to have success at the WHL level, it’s not about one person,” the veteran of 261 NHL games added. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by great teammates and in particular high end linemates. I met so many great friends during my time in Brandon and many that I still keep in contact with today. I had a wonderful billet family in Garry and Janie McNish and they are still my second family to this day.”
A veteran of 1,258 NHL games, Ferraro currently serves as one of this country’s finest analysts on TSN’s hockey coverage.
While Ferraro played just one season as a Wheat King in Brandon, what a season it turned out to be. A Trail, B.C. product, who came to Brandon as part of a blockbuster deal, Ferraro scored a league record 108 goals in 1983-84 – a record that still stands after 33 years.
During his eigthteen year NHL c areer that saw him play in Hartford, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta and both New York teams, Ferraro scored 898 points, including 408 goals.
“I was really unsure about the trade that brought me to Brandon but without a doubt, it was the best thing that happened to me in my career,” says Ferraro. “I was given an opportunity to play a lot with very talented players and had a year I had never even dreamed about. To be included in this grouping of players, with the long successful history of the Wheat Kings is a great honour. It was only one season but I am positive I wouldn’t have had the career I had without that incredible season in Brandon.”
Chosen by the Wheat Kings 5th overall in the 200 WHL Bantam Draft, Fehr went on to enjoy a stellar four year career in Brandon, finishing with 146 goals and 277 points in 279 games. His best year was his final season when he scored 59 goals and 111 points and led Brandon to the WHL Championship Final against Kelowna. Not only did he lead the WHL in scoring, he was named a First Team All Star and winner of the league’s Player of the Year Award.
A first round bantam draft choice of Washington in the 2003 NHL Draft, he is currently in his eleventh NHL season, having played close to 600 regular season games with the Capitals, Jets, Pittsburgh and Toronto. A former Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year, the Winkler Manitoba product has scored 103 goals and 202 points during his NHL career.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for my time in Brandon,” says Fehr. “The coaches, players, billets and fans made it some of my most memorable years! Special thanks to my family and friends who made hundreds of trips to support me. The hockey got me to where i am today and the friendships will last a lifetime. It’s an honor to be named along the greats who have put on the Wheat Kings sweater! Brandon will always feel like home to me.”
Fehr, Ferraro, Murray, Aulie and Cheveldayoff join Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators, Chicago’s Jordin Tootoo and Matt Calvert of Columbus on the Wheat Kings’ All Time Team. Stone, Tootoo and Calvert were named on Friday.
Fifty players were chosen last summer from the team’s history, since it entered the Western Canada Hockey League in 1967. Fans then had September, October, November and December to vote for their choice of a 20-man roster.
The remaining twelve players will be introduced over the course of the next two home games that include Saturday, March 11th vs. Prince Albert and Tuesday, March 14th against SwiftCurrent.