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Dauphin Kings Neepawa Natives OCN Blizzard Portage Terriers Selkirk Steelers Steinbach Pistons Swan Valley Stampeders Virden Oil Capitals Wayway Wolverines Winkler Flyers Winnipeg Blues

Season opens tonight: Teams previewed

By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent

 

In Part 2 of our MJHL preview, we’ll take a look at the remaining five teams and see how they are set up for a run at a championship this year.

Swan Valley Stampeders

Last year: 20-34-5-1, ninth place, DNQ.

Stamps have brought in Taurean White as their new head coach and general manager, as they attempt to get back into the post season and become a contender. As the second-lowest scoring team in the league last year the Stamps will need returning veterans such as Keaton Jameson, Trevor Mann and Connor Navrot to find the back of the net more often this year.

Waywayseecappo Wolverines

Last year: 14-42-4-0, 11th place, DNQ.

The other team to change head coaches this year is the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Barry Butler stepped down and Arnie Caplan was brought on to guide the team. The task was made harder with the loss of prolific scorers Brandon Stanley and Landyn Cochrane to other junior leagues. The Wolverines are likely going to be very young and this rebuilding process could take more than one season. But the team does have some bright spots. Caplan feels he will have a physical defense, and they have rookies in their systems who have been able to score at a high level in midget. Seeing local rookie prospect Brian Mentuck score a hat trick in the preseason bodes well for their future.

Winkler Flyers

Last year: 41-16-2-3, second place, lost to OCN Blizzard in second round in four games.

It was an exceptional regular season for the Flyers last year, and following a tough first-round series win over the Virden Oil Capitals (which saw four of the six games settled in overtime), the Flyers were swept by the OCN Blizzard, who looked unstoppable at one point in the playoffs last year, winning 10 of their first 11 games. The Flyers lost some players such as Scott Gall to graduation, and Brayden Billaney (traded to the Oil Capitals), but they still bring back plenty of veterans with lots of pop. This includes forwards Will Blake, captain Nolan McGuire, Coltyn Bates (their second-leading scorer last year), and Matt Christian.

Winnipeg Blues

Last year: 27-27-3-3, sixth place, lost to OCN Blizzard in first round in five games.

The Blues feel this might be the year for them to get back into a real contender spot after a .500 season last year. Head coach Billy Keane returns with bigger and better expectations for the Blues as they have 15 potential returning players, including eight 20-year-olds, whereas last year they started the year with only two 20 year-olds. Veterans such as Joel MacGillivray, Levi Cudmore and Dexter Kuczek will help ensure the Blues are in the conversation come playoff time.

Virden Oil Capitals
Last year: 26-26-5-3, seventh place, lost to Winkler in six games in the first round.

 The Virden Oil Capitals, who lost a slobber-knocker of a series against the Winkler Flyers in the first round of the playoffs (three games went into overtime), will look to improve on their regular season, where they finished seventh. Of course, given the parity in the league last year, there are no easy opponents on any given night.
The Oil Capitals have plenty of veteran talent returning, including forwards Tyler Kirkup, Kirklan Lycar, Bennett Dalke and Dylan Thiessen, defensemen Morgan Magwood and Tristen Cross, and goaltender Riley McVeigh.
With that much talent returning, the Oil Capitals look poised to improve on their seventh-place finish and battle hard for home-ice advantage in the first round.