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Airdrie's connection to the 2024 Memorial Cup

The Moose Jaw Warriors claimed the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) championship for just the second time in franchise history on May 15, with a 4-2 win and a series sweep of the Portland Winterhawks.
Airdrie's Noah Degenstein was drafted by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the second round of the WHL draft. He's enjoying his first full season in the WHL this year.

The Moose Jaw Warriors claimed the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) championship for just the second time in franchise history on May 15, with a 4-2 win and a series sweep of the Portland Winterhawks. 

Although the Saskatchewan-based Warriors play hundreds of kilometres from Airdrie, a local connection will surely make some Airdronians fans of the Warriors, as the team looks to capture their franchise’s first Memorial Cup. 

Noah Degenstein, an Airdrie native and 2022 second round selection by the Warriors, played in 40 games with the Warriors this season. In his rookie year, Degenstein skated in 40 regular season games with the Warriors and collected three points. His teammates, many of them early selections in the first or second rounds of the NHL Entry Draft, powered Moose Jaw to a 44-21-3 record, a top three finish in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. 

“My expectations [this year] were to just do my role properly,” said Degenstein in an interview with the Airdrie City View. “Don’t do too much and don’t stand out in a negative way. Just make smart, hard plays and work my best to try and improve every day.” 

In the 2024 WHL playoffs, the Warriors finished with an impressive 16-4 record across four series– a first-round sweep of rival Brandon Wheat Kings, a 4-1 series win over the second-place Swift Current Broncos, a third-round matchup against league titan Saskatoon Blades that went the distance, including six overtime finishes, and a sweep of the Portland Winterhawks in the league final set the Warriors on the path to the Memorial Cup. 

Like many young rookies experiencing his first playoffs, Degenstein did not see the ice during the Warriors playoff run. Some of his teammates, however, cut the figure of playoff stars. Jagger Firkus, a second round pick of the Seattle Kraken in 2022, led all WHL players in playoff points, with 14 goals and 18 assists in 20 games. Team captain Denton Mateychuk, a defenseman and first round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2022, registered 30 points and was named playoff MVP. 

Brayden Yager, the 14th overall selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 NHL drafts, and Matthew Savoie, the ninth overall pick of Buffalo Sabres in 2022, rounded out the top four playoff scorers, alongside Firkus and Mateychuk. 

“I’m playing with some top-end players and our team’s doing pretty good; so it’s just learning from them and developing as a young player,” said Degenstein.

The 104th Memorial Cup will begin on May 24, with the Warriors taking on the tournament’s host, the Saginaw Spirit.

Degenstein and the Warriors will square off against host Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), as well as the OHL champion London Knights, and the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) winners, the Drummondville Voltigeurs. 

This year’s tournament will be competitive. Each of the three league champions all swept their opponents in the respective league finals and Saginaw, who would be seen as the weak link among the other championship calibre teams, finished the regular season with a 50-16-2 record, the OHL’s second best regular season finish. 

At this year's Memorial Cup, Degenstein and the Warriors have a chance to do something no WHL team has done since the 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings: claim Canadian junior hockey’s top prize.


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