By Scott Billeck
Just hours after the Steinbach Pistons claimed their first Turnbull Cup, the big trophy that’s awarded to the winner of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s championship final, Pistons captain Kyle Rous simply wrote on his twitter, “Done”.
“It was unreal, I can’t really put that into words, it was just, you know, surreal,” said a still very enthusiastic Rous. “After all the years of hard work we put in…”
Rous has been with the Pistons franchise his entire junior career, including playing in his rookie season for the now defunct Beausejour Blades. He has been a part of the rebuilding process in Steinbach since they moved from Beausejour three years ago.
“There were a rough couple of years there,” he said, “but we stuck it through and it paid off in the end.”
Rous isn’t letting the big win go to his head. The 20-year-old realizes this will be the last chance for silverware in his junior career and he now has his sights set squarely on the Western Canada Cup (which has replaced the Anavet Cup) in Nanaimo.
“(I’m) feeling pretty confident actually,” he said. “I mean we are kind of the underdog team going into this thing, but I think our group is a harder working team than anybody else, so I am not too worried.”
Pistons head coach Paul Dyck echoed his captain’s words, especially when it came to his team’s confidence going into the Western Canada Cup.
“Well, we are excited about it, it is uncharted territory for us, but the playoffs were uncharted territory for us and this organization since we have been in Steinbach,” Dyck conceded.
“Once we got deeper into the playoffs our confidence grew. We defeated the defending champion Portage Terriers in seven games. We played the [Winnipeg] Blues, who we had only beaten once in nine games this year, so to beat them in six games was another boost. Then to play the Dauphin Kings who finished 30 points ahead of us, first in the league, all those things led to us believing in our team. The players have bought into what we are doing.”
Coach Dyck has watched Rous grow into the consummate hockey player over the past three seasons, both inside the dressing room and on the ice.
“He is without a doubt one of our leaders,” Dyck said. “He wears the ‘C’ for a reason. When a message needs to be sent on the ice, he picks up the intensity on the ice.”
This weekend’s tournament brings together the winners of the British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba junior hockey leagues as well as the host city’s team, to determine the best team in the Western half of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Coach Dyck has been keeping tabs on the other teams throughout the year andf he knows what to expect.
“We tried to do as much homework as possible,” the coach said. “I know some of the coaches from Western Canada so we got some detailed reports on the teams and we also get the opportunity to watch the four other teams as we have a bye the first day.”
The inaugural 2013 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup runs from April 28 – May 5 in Nanaimo. Rous and the Pistons are set to face the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champion Yorkton Terriers on Sunday, April 28,to open up their tournament. The puck drops at 4 p.m. CDT.
In the meantime, this will be a tremendous opportunity for Rous to show U.S. and Canadian college scouts that he’s ready to take the next step. At some point, he’d like to play professionally.
“I am hoping to go down to the US and go play college hockey,” Rous conceded. “I have a few Division III offers, and I am hoping that something bigger will come up as well.”
The next step in his career starts Sunday in Nanaimo.