Five years ago the Golden Knights got their first taste of the Winnipeg Whiteout in the Western Conference Finals. Among the 16,000 fans clad in white was a young hockey player dreaming of being out there himself one day.
Manitoba-born Brett Howden, fresh off of his final season with the Moose Jaw Warriors was with his family and friends watching on from the stands as the Golden Knights punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018.
Fast forward to Game 4. Now, Howden’s parents, siblings, in-laws, and friends were all once again in the stands, but this time, the former 1st round pick was on the ice making game-deciding plays rather than watching them.
It’s pretty wild. It’s just amazing how things change down the road and I’m just super thankful to be here. And, I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty cool. -Brett Howden
Howden scored Vegas’ first goal, a crucial 1st period tally to tie the game at one, by using some of the skill he possessed which made his dream of playing on this stage much more of a possibility than the hundreds of other kids with the same dream in the building five years ago.
He then added a second one, an empty-netter, to seal the deal for the Golden Knights before skating toward the corner nearest his family’s seats. With a massive smile on his face, he gave them a salute and then joined his teammates to celebrate their now 3-1 series lead.
It was an emotional moment for me. I was looking forward to coming back to play in the whiteout and after I scored I don’t even remember what I did cause I was so emotional about it. -Howden
Howden’s big night has been in the making this entire series. After being switched onto the wing of Chandler Stephenson and opposite Mark Stone in Game 2, he’s made an instant impact helping balance the Golden Knights’ lineup.
We’re trying to find the best four combinations (of lines). Howden added speed to Stephenson and Stone the other night and it seemed to work for them. Stone can slow the play down so well that we thought Howden going to the net would work so that predicated the move. -Bruce Cassidy before Game 4
It’s a combination Cassidy has envisioned working for a while. In fact, the first six games of the season Howden played with Stephenson and Stone before the lines were shuffled. One of the reasons he’s a good fit is the simplicity in his game that pairs with well playing Mark Stone’s elite hockey sense.
It’s pretty easy (to play with Stone). He’s unbelievably intelligent and then you’ve got Stephenson as well and those two together are a dynamic duo. Just trying to help out where I can with them by trying to get open and creating some space for them and letting them do their thing. I don’t want to change anything. Just cause I move up a line to play with them I still want to stay hard on the forecheck, go to the net, create some havoc there. -Howden
In less than three games together, that line has been on the ice for four Golden Knights goals and they’ve outshot the Jets 21-12 in just 34 minutes of ice time.
As a result of their excellent, like five years ago, most of the Winnipeg crowd went home with their heads hanging as the Golden Knights beat the Jets at Canada Life Centre for the fourth playoff game in a row. This time though, the Howden clan was on the other side of it, and that’s in good part because, this time, Brett was on the ice.