Team Canada captured its fourth Spengler Cup in the past five years on Tuesday, their 16th championship all time, and former Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose players were a big reason why they did so.
Clark Put on a Clinic
At the forefront of Canada’s potent offence in Davos was former Manitoba Moose Kevin Clark, who led the team and the tournament with eight points — six goals, two assists — as Canada rattled off four consecutive victories.
Clark, born and raised in Winnipeg, played three seasons with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Winnipeg South Blues between 2003 and 2006 before spending four seasons at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The 32-year-old winger — who showed off his great wheels, soft hands, and net-front prowess this week at Vaillant Arena — played a combined 52 games with the Vancouver Canucks-affiliated Moose in 2009-10 and 2010-11, his first foray into pro hockey. In the latter season, he put up 14 points in 43 games.
Clark spent the first two seasons upon the Jets’ return from Atlanta with their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, before making his way to Europe.
In his first season with the Swiss National League’s SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, he started the 2019 Spengler tournament with a Boxing Day hat trick versus HC Ocelari Trinec and notched his fourth goal in Canada’s second round-robin game against host HC Davos.
He then torched TPS Turku in Monday’s semi-final, potting a power-play rebound to open the scoring less than five minutes in and concluded the scoring late in the third.
In the championship game against Ocelari Trinec, Clark was held without a goal for the first time. However, he did register an assist on Ian Mitchell’s five-on-three goal that made it 2-0 in the second. Clark and Canada’s power play scored three goals in less than five minutes of the middle frame to take control of the game.
3 Former Jets Chipped In, Too
While Clark never played for the Jets, three of his Spengler Cup teammates did, including defenseman Paul Postma, now with HC Lugano. .
Postma, a 2007 Atlanta Thrashers pick who played 190 games for the Jets between 2011-12 and 2016-17, scored a goal in the semi-final and was a big part of Canada’s d-corp that only allowed two goals all tournament and by-in-large, throttled their oppositions’ ten-bell scoring chances.
Joining Postma on the list of former Jets were Eric Fehr and Ben Maxwell. Fehr, a Winkler, Manitoba product who was traded to the Jets just after relocation and played 35 games with the team in their inaugural season, scored his team’s third goal — after they’d spent a lot of time up two goals — in the second period of the game versus HC Davos.
Also finding the scoresheet in that game was Ben Maxwell, who tallied an assist on Alex Grant’s second period power-play goal. The 31-year-old Maxwell, in his first season with the SCL Tigers and seventh European season overall, played nine games for the Jets in 2011-12 after being traded to the Thrashers in Feb. 2011.
Related: Jets’ 2011-12 “Extra Large” Roster
He tallied a goal and four assists in nine games — check out his nifty spin-o-rama goal — and stuck around with the organization through 2013 before signing with Liiga’s Oulun Kärpät.
A Couple More Connections
While he never played for the Jets, forward Blair Riley suited up for a combined 141 games for the IceCaps in 2013-14 and 2014-15 — the final two seasons before the Jets relocated back to Winnipeg and created the Manitoba Moose 2.0 — and acted as an alternate captain in the latter season.
Shane Doan, who of course is famous for being the last active NHL player to have played for the Jets 1.0, was part of general manager Sean Burke’s management group. Doan and Burke compiled the championship-winning roster.
Hockey operations intern Kurt Keats, 24, was also born in Winnipeg. Keats played two seasons with the Winnipeg Blues before two with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Powell River Kings and four with UMass Amherst.
What Will Next Year Hold?
Canada was easily the most elite 2019 Spengler Cup team, outscoring their opponents 17-2. You can bet Doan and Burke would love to have the four players with Winnipeg connections — and really everyone from the dominant squad — back in 2020 to challenge for Canada’s 17th title.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.