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Small town and hockey are two things that go hand in hand.

Whether it's at an outdoor rink or an indoor facility, so many young Canadians spend countless hours skating and shooting a puck. For Brady Turko of McCreary, this was exactly the case. Growing up in a community of about 500 people, if Turko wasn't in school during the winter months, you could find him at the Centennial Arena in the community.

From a young age you could tell that Brady was going to be a special player if he continued to work hard and as the McCreary star continues to shine bright, he will always know that McCreary is where it all started.

"McCreary helped me out a lot," said Turko. "The ice was always available so I had a great opportunity to work on my game pretty much whenever I wanted in the winter. I played on some great teams throughout the years and I loved my time in my hometown."

After playing his minor hockey in McCreary and a five-game stint with the Parkland U15 Rangers, Brady made the move about 90 minutes away to Brandon to join their academy. Turko joined the Wheat Kings AAA program starting with the U15 team in the 2021-22 season and he tore the league apart with 30 goals and 81 points in 32 regular season games before posting another 18 points in 11 playoff games. 

Turko then moved up to the U18 level in time for the next year and it was a solid rookie U18 season for the McCreary native as he posted 14 goals and 43 points across 44 regular season games and another five playoff points in eight games.

Back in the Wheat City with the U18 club this year, Turko has taken his game to the next level by recording 90 points in just 41 games. He finished second in league scoring and averaged 2.20 points per game. The McCreary sniper had a league-leading 16 power-play goals and 30 points while on the man advantage. He also had four game-winning goals and one shorthanded goal.

"Growing and getting stronger was a big reason I was able to take my game to the next level," said Turko. "With that said, my teammates and linemates were a big reason as well. I wouldn't be where I am today without them."

WHL Bound:

On December 11, 2023, Brady achieved a lifelong goal of his as he signed his first Western Hockey League (WHL) Standard Player Agreement with the Wheat Kings. Turko was taken 97th overall in the 2022 WHL Draft by Brandon. 

"It was a dream come true, I grew up watching the Wheat Kings as a young kid," offered Turko. "It was one of the greatest feelings ever for me, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity."

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Just as December 11 was a big day, Turko had an even bigger day just about a month later as he made his WHL Debut on January 20. It resulted in a 6-0 win for the home team against the Lethbridge Hurricanes and including the rookie lap, it was an evening that Brady will never forget.

"Getting to play my first WHL game was even better," said Turko. "I've been given a lot of opportunity here in Brandon and I was grateful to get the chance to play with them, pretty surreal moment."

Then just a month later on February 19, Brady put another check on his Wheat Kings checklist as he scored his first WHL goal against the Saskatoon Blades. It came in front of nearly 3800 fans at Westoba Place, many of whom were Brady's family members and friends.

"It was an amazing feeling," offered Turko. "It means a lot when I score with the U18 team, but it's an elevated feeling when it happens at the WHL level. It's hard to describe it more than that, it was pretty special. I'm honoured that it happened with the team I grew up watching and always wanting to play for."

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Brady now has that puck in his bedroom. In seven games with the WHL Club this year, Turko has one goal and three assists while also being a plus-3. 

Main Focus:

Brady's time in the WHL is now on the back burner, but just for now. Without a doubt, the young star from McCreary has an extremely bright future and he will soon be a full-time WHL player. For now; however, he's focusing on not letting the heartbreak the team felt last year happen again this year.

The U18 Wheat Kings are heavy favourites to win the league this year. The team came up short in five games last year against the Wild in the league semifinal. This year, Brandon has been in a class of their own and the year they enjoyed will go down as one of the best in league history. In a 44-game regular season, Brandon won 43 games and their only loss came against Southwest in overtime.

"It was a great season, we have a pretty special group here," said Turko. "We have faced our fair share of adversity as well, I'm proud of this group."

Now three games into their playoff journey, Brandon is already waiting to see who they will play next. The Wheat Kings scored 26 goals in a three-game sweep of the Eastman Selects in the first round. 

Turko had nine points in the first round as the Wheat Kings now focus on preparing for whoever they will play next in a best-of-5. Regardless of whomever it is, Brandon will once again be heavy favourites.

"We're just looking to our next game, we know that we will have to be ready," said Turko. "You can't look at the regular season. These are the playoffs and no one can be taken lightly. We're pleased with what we achieved against Eastman. 430168892 1435192327387746 5632200709607750124 n

While Brandon won 43 games in the regular season and it will undoubtedly go down as one of the top regular seasons in league history, Brady knows that only one thing will classify this as a successful season in all.

"We're here to win a championship, that's our main goal," said Turko. "We know that we have to win six more games and we know that we have to be ready for whoever we go up against next because they will be coming out hard."

This Brandon team is well worth the price of admission. On top of getting to see Brady play, you will also get the chance to watch Jaxon Jacobson. Jaxon just turned 15 a couple of months ago and his 106 points in the regular season were the fourth-most in league history and he also had six points in seven games with the WHL's Wheat Kings. 

In the first round against Eastman, Jaxon had 10 points. So the dynamic duo of Jacobson and Turko combined for 19 points.

"We push each other every day and I believe that's important," ended Turko. "Not only in games but practices as well. We're always trying to get better. We're also pretty great friends off the ice as well as on, so we have some great chemistry together."

Around the League:

#2 Southwest Cougars vs #7 Pembina Valley Hawks (Cougars lead the best-of-5, 2-1)

Kole Beard scored his first of the playoffs with 35 seconds left in the second and it stood up as the winner in game three. 

Southwest can wrap up the series in Pembina Valley on Thursday

#3 Winnipeg Wild vs #6 Interlake Lightning (Lightning lead the best of 5, 2-1)

After splitting the first two games, the Lightning scored a pair of empty-net goals late in game three to lock up a 4-1 win. 

The Lightning can advance to the next round when they host game four on Thursday. 

#4 Winnipeg Thrashers vs #5 Winnipeg Bruins (Thrashers lead the best of 5, 2-1)

The Battle of Winnipeg has been a fun one so far. After the Thrashers won 4-3 in game one in overtime, Justin Perreault recorded a 27-save shutout for the Bruins in game 2. Then in game 3, Perreault gave up two goals on 33 shots as he was outdueled by Taye Timmerman, who turned away 41 shots for the Thrashers.

The Thrashers can advance to the next round when the Bruins host game 4. 

** Regardless of if the Winnipeg Wild win the league or not, they will still play in the Telus Cup West Regionals as they will host that event early next month at the Hockey for All Centre**