From Bench Clearing Brawls to Brett Howden: 30 Years of Warriors and the World Juniors
Brett Howden certainly isn't the first Warrior to represent Moose Jaw at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship; heck, he isn't even the first in his family to do it. His brother, Quinton, did it twice.
The Warriors have a steady history of sending top players to the World Juniors that goes back 30 years to when Mike Keane and Theo Fleury went to Czechoslovakia. Both of them were involved in a wild, bench-clearing brawl against the Russians, in what has now become infamously known as the "Punch-up at Piestany". Both teams were ejected from the tournament. A gold medal opportunity squandered.
Brett Howden is the 12th Warrior to be selected for the team. It's his fourth full season as a Moose Jaw Warrior. He's put up 223 combined points over his time there.
His older brother, Quinton, won Silver in 2011 and Bronze in 2012. He even captained the team at one point. He was drafted by the Florida Panthers; where he spent three seasons before being shipped off to Winnipeg. He only played five games with the Jets and has since been signed by HC Dinamo Minsk, out of Belarus.
Three of the more recent Team Canada selections seem to be settling into healthy careers in the NHL:
Brayden Point won Gold in 2015, on a team led by Conor McDavid. He has been heading the second line for the league-best Tampa Bay Lightning, in what would count as his breakthrough season.
Morgan Rielly played on the disappointing 2013 squad, that failed to win a medal in Russia. He now fronts the defense for the resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs.
Travis Hamonic, the Metis kid, from St. Malo, MB, was on Team Canada in 2008, when they destroyed Russia 8-0 in the gold medal game. He spent seven seasons as a solid defender for the New York Islanders, before being traded to the Calgary Flames at the start of the 2017 season.
The mid-2000s saw two Warriors win gold, neither of whom would go on to have the same success in the big leagues as most of the others in this list. In 2008 Riley Holzapfel won gold in Pardubice; where he played with one of the most talented Junior teams Canada has ever iced. John Tavares, PK Subban, Drew Doughty, Claude Giroux and Steven Stamkos were all on that squad. Holzapfel never played a game in the NHL, and now plays in Sweden.
The gritty Kendall McArdle, who typically spent more time in the penalty box then he did on the ice, won gold in Sweden in 2007, alongside Carey Price and Jonathan Toews. McArdle had a few short cracks at the NHL but was ultimately retired from hockey by 2014. He is now an investment banker in Vancouver.
Nathan Paetsch, whose class picture still adorns the hallway of his LeRoy, SK high school, played in back-to-back tournaments, just like Quinton Howden. The sturdy defenseman played four seasons in the NHL, with Buffalo, and currently lives in New York, and plays for the Grand Rapid Griffins. He took home two silver medals with the Canadian Juniors, losing both gold medal games to the rival Russians
Jamie Lundmark was a career journeyman in the NHL, playing for five teams. He played two seasons in Moose Jaw. He also skated for the Canadian juniors in both 2000 and 2001, taking home two bronze medals. He has finally settled into a role on a team; he has spent the last six seasons with Klagenfurt AC in Austria.
Everybody remembers Ryan Smyth. 15 seasons for the Edmonton Oilers. 1000 career games. 2x all-star. Olympic gold medallist. All around stand-up guy and fan favourite. He won a gold medal with the '95 Junior team. The Warriors retired his number, and there is a great chance the Oilers will too one day.
And finally, all the way back to 1987. 30 years ago. The Warriors were still fresh in the WHL; only the club's third season as a franchise. Both Mike Keane and Theoren Fleury were selected to play. And, well, if you want to know what happened, click the video below.