For the first time in the 40-year history of the Saskatchewan-based franchise. the Moose Jaw Warriors are champions of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

"After Christmas they had a little slump," explains Jason Mateychuk, father of Denton Mateychuk, the Warrior's captain who was named WHL playoff MVP after leading all defensemen in scoring with 30 points. The Mateychuk's call Dominion City home.

Denton Mateychuk, captain of the Moose Jaw Warriors, was named WHL playoff MVP after leading all defensemen in scoring.

Jason calls it a defining moment for the team.

"It was like, hey, we've got to get in this together with both feet or we're not going to do it."

While Denton's role on the team has dad beaming, Jason is equally proud of how the team played as a unit. 

"The pictures of the Warrior of the game show exactly what they did. The focus shifted from one person to [showing that] there's not one guy who wins the game. It's a collective effort of a lot of players. That's what I saw from Christmas on, it was like a snowball gathering momentum. They really bought in that everybody was important to that team, everybody contributed."

Jason has an extra measure of pride in the way Denton approaches the game.

"I'm a real believer that athletic ability is one thing. But it doesn't always guarantee leadership or being a good human being or a positive role model for people. I'm confident that Denton does that. He exemplifies a work ethic, kindness and compassion to others. He really tries to embody [the concept] that one player doesn't make a team. It's the collective effort and efficacy of the whole group that determines whether they're successful or not."

After sweeping the Portland Winterhawks in four straight games, the Warriors advance to the 2024 Memorial Cup from May 24-June 2 in Saginaw, Michigan.


~With files from Zack Driedger~