1949 Brandon Wheat Kings Hockey Team Roster:
Reg. Abbot, Bill Allison, Mac Beaton, Bob Chrystal, Joe Crozier (Assistant Coach), Mike Durban, Alf Francis, Ray Frederick, Angus Juckes, Frank King (Captain), Bill Mackenzie (Coach), John MacLean, Jack McKenzie, Walter Pawlyshyn, Bob Resznoski, Brian Roche, Glen Sonmor, “Pop” Summers (Trainer).
In the Memorial Cup final of 1949, the Brandon Wheat Kings had a lot going for them. They had speed led by Mac Beaton and Reg Abbott. They had size with big John McLean at 205 pounds, Walt Pawlyshyn at 188 plus Frank King and Jack McKenzie. They had savvy with playmaker Alf Francis, Brian Roche, Joe Crozier and Angus Juckes, the guy who just kept coming at you (described as a player who "did everything on the ice but score").
And they had grit, with Glen Sonmor (called scrawny but scrappy), football player Bill Allison and, of course, Bob Chrystal, who led the Manitoba Junior League in penalty minutes. Add to this, hustlers Mike Durban and Bob Rzesnoski and Ray Frederick, a seasoned goalkeeper who played in senior Allan Cup play-offs when he was 14 in Fort Frances and then junior in Port Arthur and Hamilton before coming to Brandon. It was no surprise the Wheaties, who had 27 wins and three losses in league play, were slight favourites to win the Canadian junior championship over the visiting Montreal Royals.
What Brandon didn't have was a lot of experience. Ten players in the line-up were first- year juniors. Management decided they wouldn't add replacements, choosing to go with the team that had come this far.
It wasn't the first time the rival coaches had faced each other. Brandon coach Bill MacKenzie was captain of the 1931 Memorial Cup champion Elmwood Millionaires, who downed the Eastern representative Ottawa Primroses. Royals coach Tag Millar was a member of the Ottawa team.
Montreal outhustled the Wheat Kings to take the opening game 3-2 only to have Brandon win game two by the same score. The third game was declared a 3--3 tie after a ten-minute overtime period. Royal captain Bobby Frampton, later an NHL referee, scored the only goal in an action-packed victory in game four. Montreal won the next game 7-4 so with three wins and a tie were only one point away from victory.
Brandon turned it on and took the next two contests 2-1 and then convincingly 5-1, setting the stage for game eight played at the Winnipeg Amphitheatre. The Royals jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Frampton and Bert Hirschfeld. Brandon answered back with tallies from their two all-star defensemen, Crozier and Chrystal. Jack McKenzie in the second period and Reg Abbott, early in the third, gave the Wheat Kings a 4-2 lead.
Then the roof caved in. Gord Knutson, from Regina, scored for the Royals with the hands of a dentist which he would soon become. And inside of three minutes, Hirschfeld, Frampton and Hirschfeld from Frampton made it 6-4 Montreal as they won Quebec's first Memorial Cup. As the clock ticked down, trainer J. Cadger called out to the players "Thirty seconds, thirty seconds to Broadway."
Future NHL star Dickie Moore was held off the score sheet in the final game but played a solid series as did Skip Burchell, later to be a Winnipeg Warrior, and bruising Tommy Manastersky, who was a member of the Grey Cup winning Montreal Alouettes later that year.
The loss wasn't goalie Ray Frederick's fault but he wept unashamedly on the ice following the game as the Royals whooped it up.
Brandon captain Frank King, with his usual class, said
"We're the second-best team and that's all there is to it."
The 1948-49 Brandon Wheat Kings Hockey Team is also a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.