Photo by Brandi Crowe
Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - He may not look the part, but Brandonite Connor Gutenberg is the elder statesman on this new look Brandon Wheat Kings roster.
The longest-serving Wheat King is one game shy of 250 in his career and enters the 2019/20 season as the last remaining player from the 2016 WHL Championship team.
Four years ago as a fresh-faced 16-year-old rookie, Gutenberg burst onto the scene but suffered an untimely wrist injury that held him to just 44 games. However, the 5'9 forward still managed to score six times and add four assists for a respectable ten points. The big stat line from that year was the fact he suited up for 20 playoff games on route to the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
"It's hard to believe that is four years ago now," chuckled Gutenberg. "The time flies by real quick."
In Gutenberg's 20 years on this planet, his hometown team has only missed the playoffs twice (99-00 & 12-13), something he says makes last year's result even tougher to swallow.
"Last year was extremely disappointing," said Gutenberg. "Every player in the room feels the same way I do. We want to get back on track and it looks like everyone had a really good summer of training and we're ready to win some games."
While the leadership group hasn't been officially announced, it is almost a guarantee that Gutenberg will be in the running for the captaincy. Despite being the smallest player on the ice most nights, he led the team in fighting majors last year, a stat that shows his passion for this team and this city.
"I'm not a yeller and screamer," Gutenberg said with a smile. "Every Captain I've played for were good people first and foremost and that's what I try and do, lead by example on and off the ice."
Gutenberg will be joined by fellow overagers Zach Wytinck and Jiri Patera to start the season, a group that will be relied on heavily to pave the way for young stars Nolan Ritchie and Jake Chiasson.
When asked if there is any advice he would give to the young players on this team, he says to be sure to take it all in.
"It goes by fast, try and take it all in and enjoy it. This is the best time of your life, make sure you embrace it."
Brandon Wheat Kings Main Camp continues Saturday at Westoba Place, all sessions are open to the public.
9:00am Team White Practice
10:30am Black vs. Gold
6:00pm Main Camp Scrimmage
Where Are They Now - 2016 WHL Championship Team
Logan Thompson - Signed with the AHL's Hershey Bears for the 19/20 Season
Jordan Papirny - Entering his 3rd season with the University of Calgary Dinos
Mitch Wheaton - Entering his 4th season with St Francis Xavier University
Jayce Hawyrluk - Entering his 2nd season with the Florida Panthers
Ivan Provorov - Entering his 4th season with the Philadelphia Flyers
Kale Clague - Entering his 2nd season with the AHL's Ontario Reign (LA)
Stelio Mattheos - Entering his 1st season with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers (Carolina)
Ty Lewis - Entering his 2nd season with the AHL's Colorado Eagles (Colorado)
Tanner Kaspick - Entering his 2nd season with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage (St. Louis)
John Quenneville - Entering his 4th season of pro hockey, recently traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Garrett Armour - Entering his 2nd season with the University of Manitoba
Nolan Patrick - Entering his 3rd season with the Philadelphia Flyers
Macoy Erkamps - Entering his 4th season of pro hockey, signed with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh)
Tyler Coulter - After a stint in Europe, signed with the ECHL's Rapid City Rush for 19/20
Tim McGauley - Entering his 4th season of pro hockey, signed with the AHL's Colorado Eagles (Colorado)
Connor Gutenberg - In his 20-year-old season with the Brandon Wheat Kings
Duncan Campbell - Entering his 3rd season at Queens University
Linden McCorrister -Entering his 1st season at the University of Regina
Reid Duke - Entering his 3rd season with the AHL's Chicago Wolves (Vegas)
Mark Matsuba - Retired from competitive hockey following the Championship season, currently working as an elevator technician in Edmonton, Alberta.
James Shearer - Entering his 2nd season with the University of Calgary Dinos
Jordan Thomson - Currently playing senior hockey with the Russell Rams.