The record has stood for 29 years, but Jayden Halbgewachs is on the verge of history as we enter the final week of the WHL regular season.
The Moose Jaw Warriors overage sniper sits two goals back of Blair Atcheynum's single-season franchise record of 70, which was set during the 1988-89 season, eight years before Halbgewachs was born.
Atcheynum has been following the season that Halbgewachs has put together and is supporting his chase.
“My record was a long time ago and it's time for someone else to carry the ball,” said Atcheynum. “The Warriors are having one hell of a season, there's something special going there obviously and he's a big part of it.”
After scoring seven goals in four games last week to put his season total at 68, Halbgewachs will have three games this week to try to break Atcheynum's record.
Halbgewachs has been scoring consistently throughout the season, averaging just under a goal per game. When Atcheynum set the record, he actually went into the Christmas break with just 25 goals, but he went off in the second half to break Theoren Fleury's record of 68, which was set the season before.
“When I got to Christmas, I was thinking, 'Great, I have a chance at 50,' and I ended up with 45 after Christmas,” said Atcheynum.
“The biggest thing for me was opportunity. I was fortunate to play with guys like Mike Keane and Theoren Fleury, and I actually played on a line with Theoren the year before when he broke Mark McKay’s record, and then I had a line with Jerome Bechard and Rob Harvey, all Hall of Famers in Moose Jaw, and we put together something pretty good.
“At the end of the day, it was opportunity and the support we had from the coaching staff and the people of Moose Jaw that made that season, for me, as special as it was.”
Atcheynum and Halbgewachs have had similar rises to their WHL careers with neither player finding their stride until their final two seasons. After scoring five goals in his first two seasons with Saskatoon, Swift Current and Moose Jaw, Atcheynum broke out with 32 goals in 87-88 and then had his record setting season as a 19-year-old.
Halbgewachs broke out with 50 goals last season, but has taken his game to another level this season.
If Halbgewachs can crack the 70-goal threshold, he will become the first place to surpass that milestone in the WHL since Calgary's Pavel Brendl in 1998-99. He would also become just the sixth player since the 1990-91 campaign to pass that mark.
“The game has changed big time, I wasn't the leading goal scorer in the league that year. Back then, there was more clutching and grabbing, but there was more goal scoring,” said Atcheynum. “Any time that you can put that many goals up in any year, you're doing something pretty special and it's something that he can be proud of and hopefully he can follow through with it.”
The Warriors' record book has been rewritten this season with the team success that the Warriors have had. Atcheynum said he knows how much this season means to the city.
“What the Warriors are on the threshold of, they've got their eyes set on much bigger goals and it's great for the people of Moose Jaw,” he said. “I've been involved with the North Stars here in Battleford for about 10 years, and they finally won a championship last year and there’s so many people behind the scenes that have kept the ball rolling in Moose Jaw and hopefully they'll have a chance to celebrate something special.”
The Warriors finish the regular season with three games this week, they host Prince Albert on Tuesday night and then take on Brandon in a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday.