After getting his first taste of major junior playoff hockey as a rookie with the Kootenay Ice in 2014-15, it took a lot for Cale Fleury to get back to playing meaningful games.
The 19-year-old defenceman rose up to become a star in the WHL in four and a half years with the Ice organization, being named the 21st captain in club history in January 2017. As part of a rebuilding team that placed last in the league in 2015-16 and 2016-17, it took a trade to give him another shot at playoff hockey.
Now a member of the Regina Pats, Fleury is one game away from the winning the biggest trophy in junior hockey. Following a 4-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday, the Pats will play the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Sunday in the Memorial Cup final.
In four games at the tournament, which saw the Pats advance to the semi-finals by knocking out the WHL champion Swift Current Broncos (who eliminated the Pats in seven games in the first round of the WHL playoffs), Fleury has a single assist and has been a dominant defensive force.
While his +3 rating is tied for the team lead, it has been his hard-hitting tendencies that have caught the eye of fans. Having been drafted into the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens (third round, 87th overall) while a member of the Ice, this could be Fleury’s final year of junior hockey.
— Brandon Rivers (@hodgesheroes) May 19, 2018
Does anybody have the clip of Cale Fleury hitting 61 on the buttons? Might be the step up hit of the Tournament!
— Bob Friesen (@bob_friesen) May 26, 2018
Fleury is one of three former Kootenay players on the Pats. Sophomore forward Tanner Sidaway was traded to Regina in October, while Jared Legien, the Ice’s first-round pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft, also joined the team at the trade deadline.
Should the Pats claim the Memorial Cup, it will be the first victory for the WHL since the Edmonton Oil Kings hoisted the trophy in 2014.
NOTE: Fleury was acquired by the Pats back in November in exchange for 2001-born forward Cole Muir, 1999-born defenceman Jonathan Smart, a second-round draft pick in 2018, a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 and a conditional second-round draft pick in 2019.