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DeSouza Grateful for Wheat Kings Help in Landing Pro Opportunity

May 15, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Brandon Wheat Kings News Release

Jackson DeSouza is accustomed to traveling for hockey. He did it as a young man when he went from his home in Colorado to Kelowna to start his WHL career, then he did it again when he moved from Kelowna to Brandon. This next move is going to be a little different, and not just because he's going further away.

DeSouza will be joining Lillehammer IK in Norway for the 2024-25 season, going pro at the end of his WHL career. And in many ways, this opportunity came about specifically because of his time with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

"I know the coach pretty well," DeSouza said. "Jakub Petr, who is Dom's dad, he and I chatted a little bit near the end of the season and those chats really picked up near the end. It seems like an unbelievable opportunity over there, something I couldn't pass up."

The connections with Wheat Kings' forward Dominik Petr didn't hurt, but DeSouza earned that opportunity with his play. The steady, rugged defenseman who blocked shots like a machine (head coach and GM Marty Murray said he elevated the entire team in that regard) was a fixture for the Wheat Kings on their back end following the trade from Kelowna.

"Going into a new situation like Brandon after being in one spot for the majority of my career kind of opened my eyes," DeSouza said. "Hearing new voices on the bench with Marty, (Mark Derlago) and Del (Pedrick), they do a great job with getting guys to the next level so I feel like I'm ready."

Helped along by former Rockets teammate Nolan Flamand, DeSouza quickly settled in with the Wheat Kings, where he said it took him a matter of just a few days to fee like he belonged. When he takes that next step to the pros, there are some fond memories of road trips and bus rides that he'll take with him from his time in Brandon.

"The post-road win bus rides home, those were something I'd never seen before," DeSouza said. "When we were traveling on the road in Kelowna it was pretty quiet on the way back, but not with this group. I think what I'll carry on is every guy on the team. We were such a tight group and I enjoyed playing with all of them."

DeSouza quickly got used to longer road trips with a Wheat Kings' team that has one of the tougher travel schedules in the WHL. Between that and the miles he's put on in his own hockey journey, he's an experienced traveler by now, and has been to Europe before, but this move is, he knows, going to be unlike any of the others.

"Going to Europe is a whole different ball game," he said. "There are going to be a lot of things I'm not used to, but I'm excited for that challenge as well. To experience Norwegian culture, to see the world a bit, it's going to be really exciting."

DeSouza left an impression in Brandon during his time here, winning friends in the organization and locker room and being a hit with media and fans. He even won the Wheat Kings' Community Service Award. And as he left an impression on Brandon, it left one on him as well.

"I wouldn't have had this opportunity if I wasn't in Brandon," DeSouza said. "Everything happens for a reason."

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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