Hockey Manitoba's hard work and persistence finally paid off as they emerged victorious with a gold medal at the 2023 WHL Cup in Red Deer. Koy Funk, a Portage la Prairie native, was a part of the team that brought home the coveted trophy.
The win was especially sweet for Manitoba, losing out on the top prize in previous tournaments, including the 2015 and 2019 editions. In the final showdown of the 2023 installment, Manitoba faced tough competition from Alberta, but they managed to secure the victory with a 6-5 shootout win on October 22.
"It was an experience of a lifetime," says Funk. "Usually, we're a province that isn't a big a dog, but this year, we had that mentality. When we got the job done, it was a feeling you'll never forget. Now, the guys on that team, we are brothers for life."
Drafted 77th overall in the 4th round by the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League's bantam draft, Funk, a left-handed forward, didn't have the highest draft pedigree on the team. Playing with elite WHL prospects such as Everett Silvertips 2023 first-rounder Brek Liske (10th overall) and Prince George Cougars 2023 1st rounder (15th overall) Carson Carels. No matter your status heading into the tournament, Funk says every player on the team played a crucial role in securing the victory.
"Everybody got a touch on the puck and to make a big play in each game," said the Portager. "It felt unbelievable just to be able to help the team out. Even if I'm not getting a point or goal every game, I know I'm doing the little things right."
The 2023 WHL Cup was a significant milestone for Funk, reassuring him that he had what it takes to compete with the best players in his age group.
"It just gives me a bit more confidence."
Funk will now direct his focus to the rest of his season with the U18 RHA Prep Team in Winnipeg.
Are you still celebrating U16 Team Manitoba's 6-5 shootout victory at the 2023 #WHLCup yesterday?— Hockey Manitoba (@hockeymanitoba) October 23, 2023
Because we certainly are.
Read all about Team Manitoba's historic win by visiting the link below.⤵️
🔗| https://t.co/oqsF5HMpYV pic.twitter.com/Or8MXq0NUo
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, PortageOnline encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the PortageOnline app.