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 Brandon Wheat Kings

All Star, MVP Seasons Just the Beginning for Turko, Jacobson

February 20, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Brandon Wheat Kings News Release

In the two games this past weekend, opponents of the Brandon Wheat Kings learned what teams in the Manitoba U18 AAA ranks already knew all too well: Jaxon Jacobson and Brady Turko are a deadly duo with dangerous offensive chemistry.

Turko and Jacobson each picked up their first WHL assists on Friday, February 16 against the Calgary Hitmen, with Jacobson also scoring a goal. Then, on Monday, February 19 against the Saskatoon Blades, it was Turko's turn to bury the puck, picking up his first WHL goal. Jacobson added his second tally of the weekend in the second period.

"The last game I had a pretty good chance to score and didn't capitalize, so it was good to get one here tonight," Turko said. "It felt really good."

That was the cherry on top of an incredibly busy, and accolade-filled weekend for the two young men. They played with the Wheat Kings on Friday night, returned to the U18 AAA Wheat Kings for games on Saturday and Sunday (in which they each put up eight points), then rejoined the Wheat Kings for a tilt with the top team in Canada on Monday afternoon.

"I feel better than I thought I would," Jacobson said before the game against the Blades. "It was a pretty busy weekend but I got through it pretty nicely with a couple of wins so far."

Scoring goals and winning games have been the story of Jacobson and Turko's season. They sit first and second in the Manitoba U18 AAA ranks with 95 and 87 points respectively, so it's no surprise Jacobson was named league MVP over the weekend, and he and Turko both took home first team all star honours. Turko was the winner of the Hockey Ability and Sportsmanship Award as well.

"I was really honoured to get that," Jacobson said. "I'm really fortunate to play with the team I have been this year. The linemates I have, (Easton Odut and Brady Turko), they've helped me a lot along the way."

"It's a great honour and a huge accomplishment for me," Turko added. "I'm very proud to have earned that honour playing in that league."

It's one thing to produce in the AAA ranks, quite another to put up points against 16 to 20-year-olds in the WHL, many of whom are or will be drafted to the NHL. Yet the chemistry for Turko and Jacobson carried on into the early stages of their time together in major junior, with each player getting an assist on a goal by Brett Hyland on Friday night before Jacobson set Turko up on Monday.

"It makes it a heck of a lot easier when you've been playing together for three or four years now," Turko said. "Playing with him here makes it a lot easier and helps a lot."

"A lot of chemistry kicked in right off the bat," said Jacobson. "We almost buried one on the first shift (against Calgary), and after that we knew it was going to be a pretty good game. We feel we can play at this level together and even translate U18 to here pretty nicely."

The Hitmen are a younger squad with five 2007-born players, the most of any WHL team, but the Blades are one of the oldest squads in the league, firmly in contention mode and loaded with 19 and 20-year-olds. Yet Jacobson and Turko were still big factors in that game.

"Really encouraged by what I saw this weekend," said Wheat Kings head coach and GM Marty Murray. "Sometimes when you bring an affiliate player in, it's almost for the experience for them, or to eat up some ice time, but both of those kids were major contributors."

"They have lots of chemistry already, I noticed," added Hyland. "I actually really enjoyed playing with them and I hope I get to play with them again... They made my life really easy, they gave me a tap-in."

Back in the AAA ranks, Jacobson and Turko will be hunting a championship this season. The AAA Wheat Kings are an incredible 40-0-1 through 41 games and comfortably in first place in the league. Yet with injuries piling up with the big club, each of these players may well be back in the WHL before the season ends. If so, they're ready for the challenge.

"I'm playing with a lot more confidence now than I was at the start," Jacobson said. "Plays without the puck, different plays with the puck, now I feel I can be more confident."

The Wheat Kings begin a Saskatchewan road trip in Prince Albert on Thursday, February 22.

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