Growing up in Wawanesa, Owen Harris spent many nights inside of Westoba Place cheering on the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Some of his favourite memories were going to games with his minor hockey teams as well as watching Ryan Pulock and Ivan Provorov play, just to name a couple.

The young man that played his AAA days with the Southwest Cougars has always wanted to become a Wheat King and in 2019, Harris was eligible to be selected in the WHL Draft.

Prior to the WHL Draft, Harris was selected by the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, 32nd overall. Just about a month later, Brandon came calling. With the 53rd overall pick in the third round, the Wheat Kings selected the Wawanesa native. Owen says it was a dream come true to see his name on the board.

“That was super exciting. Just to be drafted, that meant so much,” said Harris. “I was able to celebrate with my family and I don’t think any of us will forget that day.”

Following his draft year, he remained with the Cougars organization, but he joined the U18 team. In 41 games with one of the top teams in the league, the lockdown defender scored four times and added 13 assists. The team also played five playoff games before the campaign was shut down because of the novel coronavirus.

Swan Valley living:

Owen’s brother, Brian helped the Swan Valley Stampeders advance to the MJHL final in the 2018-19 season. After a 52 point regular season, Harris chalked up another 15 playoff points, but the Stampeders came up just short. In fact, they were one goal away from winning the league title, but Portage scored in overtime to seal the victory and the league title.

Brian is now playing senior hockey with the Wawanesa Jets and his younger brother is following in his footsteps. Owen made Swan Valley this year and he played in eight games, registering one assist. He would have plenty more junior experience under his belt, but the MJHL paused its season in mid-November when Manitoba was put under ‘Code Red’ which doesn’t allow team activities.

Stampeders Head Coach and General Manager, Barry Wolff says Owen has a bright future.

“He’s big, he’s strong, he can skate, and he has a high IQ,” said Wolff. “He’s hard to play against and he loves to get better.”

Manitoba is still under ‘Code Red’ restrictions and although the MJHL is optimistic when it comes to returning to game action as soon as possible, the wait could extend a while longer. And although his time in the valley has been short-lived as of now, Harris can’t wait to get back with his Stampeder teammates.

“I loved playing with the Stampeders,” said Harris. “It’s a great community and the support for the team is incredible.”

While we continue to wait for hockey to resume in Manitoba, it has been an exciting couple of days for Harris. For a very long time, Owen has wanted to play with the Wheat Kings and he has taken another step toward achieving his goal of cracking the WHL team. The Wheat Kings announced that they have signed Owen to a Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement.

“It means a lot to me, I’m really honoured, and grateful,” ended Harris. “I hope to make the best out of it. It’s just one step closer to being a Wheat King one day.”

Wolff added that Harris will be a dynamite defenceman for the Wheat Kings.

“We’re really happy for his whole family, he deserves this,” said Wolff. “He never stops working and that’s what every organization wants.”