If nothing else, they believed in the law averages. It had to be on their side. Sometime, eventually, perhaps soon, the Brandon Wheat Kings would play the Calgary Hitmen and win a game.
Didn't Charlie Brown get to kick the football once? And what about that blind squirrel? It found an acorn, right? And that meant that one night the Wheat Kings would take on Calgary and win a hockey game that mattered.
Turned out last night was that night.
Riding a five-game losing streak that dated back to last month's Western Hockey League playoffs, the Wheat Kings saved the best for the biggest, overcoming a two-goal disadvantage to defeat Calgary 5-4 in overtime in the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup semi-final.
Off a slick pass from teammate Toni Rajala, Jay Fehr unloaded a slap shot past Calgary goaltender Martin Jones at 3:16 of the first overtime to send the hometown fans into a yellow towel-waving frenzy.
"I just threw the puck on the net," said Fehr. "I didn't even see where it went in."
The Wheaties scored three times in the second period and again in the third to force overtime and earn their way into tomorrow's final against the Windsor Spitfires. The Spitfires may be the defending Canadian Hockey League champions; they may have a wealth of NHL draft picks, including two players who could go in the first five picks of next month's draft. But look at what Calgary had done to the Wheat Kings.
The Hitmen had owned Brandon, beating it in the 2009 and 2010 WHL playoffs then drubbing the Wheat Kings by four goals in their Memorial Cup tournament game on Wednesday. All totaled, Calgary hadn't lost to Brandon in five consecutive meetings, and that's why the Wheaties figured eventually the streak would end. It had to.
Not that things looked good early last night.
"It was crazy out there," said Brandon forward Matt Calvert. "We got down 2-0 again but we persevered … By the time that (overtime) goal went in I almost sure. It was nice to be able to finally beat those (Calgary) guys."
Brandon pounded away at the Hitmen and got stronger as the second period rolled along. Trailing 3-2, the Wheaties counted the biggest goal of the period when defenceman Travis Hamonic blasted a point shot past a screened Jones at 19:49.
With the score tied 3-3, the two teams traded goals in the third period, then settled it in overtime as the fans chanted, "We want the Cup."
"Our guys don't quit," said Colby Robak, who scored a powerplay goal in the third period. "Everyone played well and that's part of being a good team."
The Wheat Kings haven't been in a Memorial Cup championship game since 1979. They lost 2-1 in overtime to the Peterborough Petes. Current Brandon head coach Kelly McCrimmon was a member of that team, which included Brian Propp, Laurie Boschman and Brad McCrimmon.
Windsor trumped Brandon 9-3 in their round-robin game here, which opened the tournament a week ago.