Joe Hicketts wasted no time in winning his first professional championship trophy.
The rookie defenceman from Kamloops helped his Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-3 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 6 of the American Hockey League final on Tuesday, clinching a 4-2 series victory to lift the Calder Cup on home ice.
Grand Rapids, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, was down 3-2 entering the third period, before Tyler Bertuzzi scored 3:50 into the frame and Martin Frk notched the game-winning goal at 12:41.
Hicketts, who won gold with Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship, was not drafted into the NHL, but was signed by the Red Wings in September of 2014.
The former Victoria Royals’ captain finished his four-season WHL career in 2015-2016 and cracked the Griffins’ roster for the 2016-2017 AHL campaign.
In his first season with Grand Rapids, the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association product had seven goals and 34 points in 73 games, to go along with 40 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating.
Hicketts — who racked up eight points, including one goal, in 19 playoff games — was seen in a video on twitter celebrating with an octopus draped on his head in the dressing room on Tuesday night.
Former Kamloops Blazers’ netminder Connor Ingram was travelling with the Crunch on their playoff run.
Ingram, who aged out of junior hockey at the end of the 2016-2017 WHL season, signed an entry-level AHL deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning in April.
Syracuse is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate.