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FEATURE: Skinner poised to take care of business

Swift Current Broncos netminder and Oilers prospect Stuart Skinner won a WHL championship and signed with the Oilers this past week, but maintains there's still work left to do in the upcoming Memorial Cup

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Four days after lifting the Ed Chynoweth Cup above his head and three days after penning his signature along the white dotted line, Swift Current Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner can finally put the past few days into perspective. 

He does so by phone in Regina, SK, ahead of the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup - which his club gained access to after defeating the Everett Silvertips in six games to secure the Western Hockey League title.

"Being able to say that I'm at the Memorial Cup right now and that I'm settling in here in Regina, that's pretty crazy and exciting to say," Skinner, the Oilers third-round selection (78th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, said. 

Skinner and his Broncos arrived in Saskatchewan's capital on Wednesday. The club will hit the ice on Saturday against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, so there's time to reflect on the accomplishments achieved and their significance.

Like tying goaltender Dustin Slade's 2006 WHL benchmark for most shutouts in a postseason with six or surpassing Tyler Plante's 2005 record for most games played in one postseason with 26. 

He topped Cam Ward's 2002 ceiling for the most minutes played in one postseason with 1,609 and stopped 93 more shots than Portland Winterhawks keeper Mac Carruth did in the 2012 playoffs - ending the successful 2017-18 run with a whopping 811 saves.  

He also helped bring the Ed Chynoweth Cup back to Swift Current for the first time since 1993.

"It's really cool to look back and say that I was able to do that," said the Edmonton, AB, product, ending the playoffs atop nearly every goalie category. The keeper owned a 2.20 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and 16 wins. 

"I was able to come out as a champion. That's pretty awesome to say and no one can take that away from me."

He punctuated the recent accomplishments by agreeing to an entry-level contract with the Oilers, which he said was, "an incredible day for me, the agency and my family."

Amid acknowledgments of his many distinctions, though, Skinner modestly reiterates the task at hand.

"At the same time, there's a lot of business to take care of and I'm really excited to be here (in Regina) with my team."

By no means will it be easy. The Memorial Cup is a beast in itself, pitting the Canadian Hockey League's supreme contenders up against each other in a condensed schedule. Teams play at odd times and without knowledge of their opposition. Aside from the host Regina Pats, Skinner and the Broncos don't have much intel on Acadie-Bathurst or the Ontario Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs.

"It's obviously going to be different," said Skinner. "The game times are going to be different. You have to adapt to every situation."

But with the confidence sustained in recent weeks, Skinner trusts the Broncos' chances. 

"I know that we're a team that's been able to adapt," he said. "We've gone through a lot of adversity in the past and that experience will help us in this tournament."

It's hard not to look ahead, too. After the Memorial Cup, to the future and what it could bring to Skinner in the 2018-19 season. He's shown his dominance in the WHL and although he's still eligible to play in the League again next season as an overage, believes he's ready for the pro ranks.

"I think I'm ready to take the next step but if the Oilers want me to get even more experience from the WHL, then that's what I would obviously do and I'd be happy doing it," said Skinner. "Especially coming back to Swift Current and being able to be a Bronco for a second year would be a lot of fun."

There's no doubt that this week in Skinner's life has been memorable. Filled with congratulations, laughs and a few tears. But as he would phrase it, there's still 'business to take care of.'

"It's been really special to me and meant a lot, everything that's happened," Skinner said. "At the same time, it would be even more special to get another trophy. 

"To have an opportunity to play in the Memorial Cup is a blessing but we have a lot of business to take care of."

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