Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.
Before we get started, something that obviously needs to be talked about.
We all knew there was a pretty good chance the MJHL would be affected by COVID-19 this season.
It happened, it was expected and the MJHL will continue to move forward as it has since September in a safe, structured and responsible manner.
Take 1: The OCN Blizzard must have been watching Happy Gilmore over the past couple weeks as they’ve learned to harness energy, block bad. Off to a dreadful start to the season and down 4-1 in the first period to the Dauphin Kings, the Blizzard went to work and scored 6 straight goals to grab their first victory. Congrats to Billy Keane on his first win as Head Coach and GM of the Blizzard.
Take 2: Dauphin was on the other side of that comeback and while I’m sure their disappointed, one player they can’t be anything but thrilled with is Charles Massey. The Quebec native has exploded onto the MJHL scene after spending last year in the United States Premier Hockey League. He has 7 goals in 6 games including scoring in 5 straight contests. He hopes to play college hockey and if he keeps up this pace, he’ll have his choice of programs.
Take 3: Sticking with Dauphin, I wondered why it seems Nakodan Greyeyes has been so quiet to start the season… a couple of clicks on mjhlhockey.ca and that question was quickly answered. He’s played in one game. He had an assist. He’s a point-per-game player. So basically, he’s still Nakodan Greyeyes.
Take 4: Waywayseecappo is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to rinks in the MJHL. Not sure how many fans from other teams have gone to see a game there. It also helps the team has been playing pretty well of late. Other teams have to earn what they get from the Wolverines. How about Mack Belinski who has 14 points in 8 games. Another guy to keep an eye on is former Parkland Ranger Tyson Zimmer who at 16-year-old has 5 points through 8 games. The Russell product was picked by the Brandon Wheat Kings 6th overall in 2019 and he’s learning from some solid vets in Wayway.
Take 5: Great touch by the Stamps putting a poppy on their helmets. Watching the fight in that division will be fascinating all season long. Gotta think that Swan goes where Mikael Foucher takes them and betting on the 20-year-old from St-Hubert, Quebec is a smart investment. Coming off a breakout season last year, he hasn’t missed a beat. His GAA is 1.35 and SV% .957 jump off the stats page. The Stampeders can score but it’ll be goal prevention against some major players on Dauphin, Waywayseecappo and OCN that will tell the tale. Foucher makes a lot of saves he should and a lot he shouldn’t but somehow does. Coaches dream keeper.
Take 6: Does anyone work as hard and keep as many things balanced as Benny Walchuk? The guy is just all over the place. From Swan Valley to the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires and Yorkton Terriers, all this guy knows is how to work hard and love hockey. Benny is taking part in Mo-Vember. Check out his twitter, @BennyGX94Sports to donate to his page. It’s a great cause and like trying to grow a sweet mustache, every little bit helps.
Take 7: New Piston Michael King exploded for a natural hat trick against the Steelers. It was the first ever hat trick in a Pistons debut plus it was the fastest in franchise history, breaking Hayden Goderis’ record from 2013-14. All three goals happened in the second period. He picked up another goal in the second period of the next game. Also, an assist. My math says that’s 5 points in 2 games. He’s fit in magically with Codey Behun and Ty Naaykens. They really bring out the best in each other and its fun to watch… unless you’re the opponent. Then there is Matt Osadick and Rylan Bettens to contend with. Long story short, Steinbach is pretty deep upfront.
Take 8: Selkirk got a boost in the return of Tanner Pochipinski. Having to quarantine is tough mentally for anyone. When you’re far from home and can’t play hockey… the reason you’re there in the first place, I can’t imagine what that’s like. Pochipinski played on Saturday night and it had to feel good. The Steelers could use him too. Connor Roulette broke out for two points but the Steelers need scoring. They have the talent on the roster to get it and their goalie holds them in. But they got to get the power play going. 2 for 21 just won’t cut it. They’re too talented to have that number stay that low.
Take 9: Portage had to move their tribute to Geno because of provincial Covid restrictions. The team released that due to uncertainty of Covid, they do not have a future date determined. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later. The decision to postpone must have been hard but giving Geno the tribute, he deserves, with what friends and family could be in attendance, means more than the date. Also, Cody Buhler, sales and marketing director for the Terriers who also does their play-by-play, celebrated a birthday this week, so happy birthday!
Take 10: Teams do the 7th skater and it’s always great. Neepawa let Chance Duggan right down where the players were getting ready to come out and even got a picture next to one of the guys. Standing on the blue line is a thrill at any age but especially for young kids. Love to see it. Also, looking at the video Neepawa posted earlier this week, keep your head up when Rhys Bremner is on the ice. This kid hits like a truck.
Take 11: Don’t know if fans will be able to buy tickets but if you’re in Virden or playing the Oil Capitals soon and you have the chance, snatch them up. Seeing Daemon Hunt in person is sure to be worth it. The defender who went 65th overall in the NHL Draft to the Minnesota Wild has 3 goals and 4 points in two games from the back end. Also, check out the plays of the week for a sweet celly. When you score like Hunt, you can celly hard.
Take 12: November is a time to remember and give thanks for those who’ve served. Scott Stroh, the man behind Junior Night In Manitoba, served in the military for 16 years. He’s been open about how things have not been easy at times. Scott is one of the most passionate people in the country when it comes to his love for hockey at the junior level. He travels around, takes pictures, tells stories and gives fans a unique perspective on the game. Find his work on twitter @juniornightMB. Keep up the great work, Scott.
And thank you for your service. #LestWeForget