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By Britton Gray Regina / 980 CJME, 11/13/22, 8:15AM MST


Regina Thunder quarterback Carter Shewchuk summarized the outcome of the Canadian Bowl in eight words Saturday.

Photos courtesy of Wanda Harron Photography

Regina Thunder quarterback Carter Shewchuk summarized the outcome of the Canadian Bowl in eight words Saturday.

“This is the worst feeling in the world,” an emotional Shewchuk, one of the players who’s set to graduate from the Thunder program, said after Regina fell 21-19 to the Okanagan Sun in the Canadian Junior Football League final at Mosaic Stadium.

“You work so hard and spend so much time and sacrifice so many things and to come up two points short (is difficult). I’ve been doing this for six years with this team and group of guys and this is the most special group of guys we’ve ever had.

“The culture on this team is unmatched and I’m forever grateful that I’ve been part of the Regina Thunder.”

Regina built up a 15-0 lead before the Sun chipped away at the deficit. The B.C. champions ultimately would win their third CJFL title, following wins in 1988 and 2000.

“Okanagan is a hell of a football team. They have a lot of great athletes and I’m really proud of our guys. We came out and gave them a good battle,” Thunder head coach Scott MacAulay said.

“I’m just proud of our guys. They battled to the bitter end. They didn’t give up. They could have easily backed down and it came down to the last drive.”

The Thunder went undefeated for the second straight Prairie Football Conference regular season and — unlike in 2021 — beat the Saskatoon Hilltops in the PFC final. That put Regina in the national title game.

But it was an unfortunate end for the Thunder, which hasn’t won the CJFL title since 2013.

MacAulay said a loss like this is never something a person truly gets over.

“It’s going to be some ups and downs over the next little bit, especially those guys that are graduating,” he said. “I just go back to starting in January. Four times a week, guys were working out at Level 10 and our spring camps and indoor camps and skill camps — it took a lot of effort to get here.

“It’s going to hurt for a while and when they are older, they might have some regrets but (Shewchuk) shouldn’t. He did a hell of a job today trying to manage the offence and deliver the ball.”

The first quarter saw both teams struggle to get much of a rhythm offensively, with neither scoring a point in the opening frame.

But the second quarter saw the Thunder strike first. Shewchuk connected with receiver Isaac Foord twice for big plays on a drive that would end with a one-yard touchdown rush by Ryland Leichert.

Regina added to its lead shortly after that following a fumbled snap by Sun punter Isaac Wegner. That set the Thunder up in good field position, and the drive ended with Shewchuk taking the ball into the end zone himself for a six-yard touchdown.

The Thunder extended its lead to 15 with a single from punter Eric Maximuik, but the Sun got on the scoreboard on the final play of the half.

Quarterback Dominic Britton connected with receiver Colby Millet for a touchdown, sending the game to halftime with the Sun within eight points.

In the third quarter, the Sun conceded a safety to make it 17-7 before running back Jevan Garwood broke off a 53-yard run for a touchdown to put the Sun right back in it.

Sun linebacker Dawson Puk then intercepted a Shewchuk pass, which led to Britton connecting with Mike O’Shea for a touchdown that put the Sun up 21-17. O’Shea is the son of Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea.

The Thunder added two points to its tally thanks to another conceded safety, but Regina came up a yard short on its final third down try of the game, sealing the game for the Sun.