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.
Oh 2021, how good it is to see you. You bring hope for the hockey season to resume. You bring optimism to players, coaches and fans alike.
That’s a lot to pin on a year but why not? As January drags on, I feel the growing need for MJHL hockey on all levels and while keeping health and safety at the forefront, I sure hope we manage to get the season in for the 20-year-olds who graduated last year having not finished a season. Not having a proper goodbye to teammates and fans. I wish that on no one who’s ever put on an MJHL team jersey.
With that in mind, let’s get back on the positive train.
WHEN the season can resume, let’s look at 12 players that I think are primed for a big 2021 and just for fun, let’s throw in a bold prediction, too!
1) Dauphin – Charles Massey
This 20-year-old from Quebec stormed out of the gate for the Kings putting up an impressive 7 goals and 3 assists through six games. In speaking earlier this year with 730 CKDM’s Darnell Duff, Massey said “I’m honestly a little bit surprised with my production. With that said, I have always known that I could get it done when I focus and play my game. “This is a great league and it’s extremely competitive. I wasn’t expecting to score as much as I have, but I’m certainly happy that I’ve been able to help this team win games.”
Should be said Massey is also a big Minnesota Vikings fan. He’s hoping the Kings have better luck.
Bold Prediction: Massey leads the Dauphin Kings in points. He gets a number of NCAA Division one offers and any time he’s asked in the future, he’ll make mention of the Kings organization and the people of Dauphin for helping him get to where he is.
2) Neepawa – Rylan Gudnason
The pride of Killarney, Manitoba, the 19-year-old had lit the lamp 5 times in just nine games and showed no signs of slowing down when the pause hit.
While having success on the ice, Rylan has also been boosted by having his brother Cody play with Neepawa this year. The two have a strong bond and it’s great for the family, much easier for them to watch games as Rylan explained to the Brandon Sun.
He also said there is a little rivalry between the brothers. “”It’s all about who’s getting more points, who’s doing this and who’s doing that, that’s always fun,” Rylan said.
Rylan – 5 goals, 1 assist for 6 points. Cody – 1 assist. Rylan has the upper hand for now.
Rylan also happens to be an excellent violinist. Check it out here, he’s got skills on and off the ice! https://pl-pl.facebook.com/neepawanatives/videos/the-kid-has-talent-rylan-gudnason-is-in-the-house-charlie-daniels-has-nothing-on/408158566773702/
Bold Prediction: Rylan continues to lead his brother in the scoring race and will have triple the amount of points Cody does, (Cody will get revenge down the road when he breaks Rylan’s season high in points).
3) OCN – David Queree
This is more of a personal pick because I’m a big fan of both David Queree the hockey player and David Queree the person.
It’s never easy coming to a whole new team let alone a whole new province but that’s what David did last season and it didn’t take long for his infectious smile, personality and work ethic to come through.
Getting traded is also never an easy process but David saw it as an opportunity for a bigger role and he has grabbed it with both hands. 5 points in 6 games for OCN while piling up 0, yes ZERO penalty minutes despite seeing a lot of ice, shows David was on the cusp of a major statement when the pause came into effect.
The Blizzard are hoping that his production continues and he also continues to grow as a leader on the ice, in the room and in the community.
I hope he’s happy.
Bold Prediction: David continues his strong play for the OCN Blizzard and is named the team MVP. He helps the Blizzard push their first-round opponent to the brink. David appears on tv in later life wearing a Blizzard hat as he wins a major poker tournament.
4) Portage – Parker Johnson
It seemed like a quiet deal on October 22nd when the Terriers picked up Johnson from Swan Valley but Johnson has been anything but quiet on the ice.
Coming off a 21-point season last year which included 10 goals, he’s on pace to smash that. He already piled up 4 goals in his first 7 games. For a Portage team that struggled to score goals, he’s been a real shot in the arm.
Blake Spiller may have found another gem and expect to see Parker Johnson on the scoresheet a lot when play picks back up.
Bold Prediction: Johnson leads Portage in goals and points. He leads Portage in playoff scoring as they get to the MJHL Semi-Finals.
5) Selkirk – Adam Ingram
Trades are always hard to judge. Fans instantly want to pick a winner and a loser. Often times, they’re judged on who got the best player in the deal at that moment.
When Selkirk traded Brett Namaka to Portage, the big (literally, the guy’s huge) name going the other way was Sheldon Howard but it also included a prospect by the name of Adam Ingram. Since signing this year, Ingram has proven to be perhaps the biggest piece of that deal.
7 points in 8 games and every time he touches the puck, he’s dangerous. The Steelers have something special in this kid and you’ll be hearing more about him. Ingram, who is also an avid amateur golfer, earlier won the 2020 Elmhurst Invitational Low Junior title in shooting rounds of 73 and 69 back in August.
He was born in 2003. I feel old.
Bold Prediction: Ingram wins rookie of the year and finishes top 10 in MJHL scoring. He’s also named to the MJHL All-Rookie team.
6) Steinbach – Codey Behun
Codey is a special player and a terrific person. He’s a fierce competitor on the ice and he can really host a good ol’ fish fry.
Behun’s caring nature off the ice is apparent when you talk with him. He’s always joking with teammates and fans. When he’s not thinking about hockey, which isn’t often, he’s trying to help build the education of kids. Since being traded to Steinbach from Winnipeg, he commutes every week day and works in a school.
His kind nature stops when the skates hit the ice. Then you get “Hooner”. He’s a dynamite center with all the tools to be great and a desire to win that’s not often seen in someone just 20-years-old. Since the Pistons brought in Micheal King to go along with Behun and Rylan Bettens, that line caught serious fire and Behun is often the spark.
He has the shot. He has the passing skills. He has the hockey IQ and the work ethic to get the puck. 2021 is primed to be big for Codey Behun.
Bold Prediction: Behun is a point per game player the rest of the year and into the playoffs where he leads the Pistons in playoff scoring. He continues his work with younger hockey players and will be thanked by the MJHL MVP of 2025 for helping him start his career.
7) Swan Valley – Alex Danis
In his Next College Student Athlete recruiting profile, Alex described himself.
“I am a fast, agile, tenacious offensively skilled forward with a scoring touch that contributes tremendously in all areas of the ice. ”
That’s a fact. He has 7 goals and 7 assists for the Stamps. The 19-year-old came to Swan via the Llyodminster Bobcats. Often when players come from out of province, it takes fans a bit of time to see what they have. Not with Danis. It was evident pretty quickly that he would be a threat every night and it’s come true.
Swan Valley wants to make noise in a division that has Waywayseecappo, Dauphin and OCN. Making the most noise so far is Danis and expect that to continue into the restart.
Bold Prediction: Danis is named to the MJHL 1st team and finalist for the MJHL MVP. He has his choice of NCAA programs and picks one before the season is out.
8) Virden – Hunter Cloutier
He’s leading the league in scoring. He’s up a point but played one less game.
Not so bold prediction: Cloutier leads the league in special teams scoring at the end of the year.
As of right now, he has 1 power play goal, 6 power play assists, 1 short-handed goal and 1 short-handed assist.
Back in October, Cloutier told Mike Sawatzky from the Winnipeg Free Press, “It’s my last year in the league and I haven’t been able to get a championship yet, so I’m hoping to help the team in any way to try to win games and obviously I want to win a championship,”
Hunter’s doing all he can to help get Virden there and expect him to be right near the top of the scoring lead all season long.
Bold Prediction: Cloutier leads the league in scoring and is a finalist for the MJHL MVP.
9) Waywayseecappo – Mackenzie Belinski
Sometimes, it’s all about the fit.
Belinski is currently second in the league in scoring, one point behind Cloutier. He’s also just one point behind him in the special teams point race.
Long story short, Belinski is special.
After making a name for himself in Neepawa, he moved on to Portage where he had a stellar year but was on the move again, eventually finding his way to Wayway where he’s wearing a letter and on pace to shred the team scoring record.
Belinski and the Wolverines have put the league on notice. They believe it’s their time. 2021 may be bigger than Belinski and the Wolverines could have imagined.
Bold Prediction: Belinski wins the MJHL MVP award.
10) Winkler – Ian Tookenay
Again, it’s about fit.
Sometimes things just gel and for Tookenay, it was going to Winkler that kicked his career into high gear.
Coming off an impressive 16 goal, 43-point season in 47 games, he’s put up 7 points in 6 games this year, while never seeing the inside of the penalty box. He’s dependable in all areas and something the Flyers will need more of when things pick back up.
Tookenay may not lead the league in scoring this year but he’ll take leading the Winkler Flyers into a long playoff run any way he can.
Bold Prediction: Tookenay named a finalist for an MJHL award and named to the 2nd team all-stars. He will finish top 20 in scoring and top 5 in least amount of penalty minutes.
11) Winnipeg Blues – Brayden Foreman
Maybe one of the biggest surprises in the early part of the MJHL season was the Winnipeg Blues exploding out of the gate.
Brayden Foreman had a lot to do with that success and it won’t stop.
Foreman had 6 goals and 6 assists in just 6 games. That’s 2 points a game. You don’t need to be good at math to know that’s pretty good.
The face Winnipeg has perhaps the top goaltender in the MJHL and getting major scoring from not just Foreman but Ethan Hersant and Josiah Vanderhooft, the Blues are the real deal.
Foreman has the team around him for both personal and team success and it should be fun to watch… as long as you’re not playing them.
Bold Prediction: Foreman tears it up this year for the Blues and commits to NCAA Division 1 before the season is out. Foreman will end up in the USHL next year before going to college where he’ll have people say, “look at what Foreman’s doing there, remember when he was in the MJHL?”
12) Winnipeg Freeze – Evan Kaufman
Another personal one for me because, like earlier, I like Evan as a hockey player and as a person.
It may not be an easy time for the Freeze this year. A new franchise is already a step or two behind the eight-ball but who knows what will happen when the pause lifts.
One thing I do know, is that Kaufman will establish what it means to be a member of the Winnipeg Freeze. He’s going to lead by example on and off the ice. His impact will be felt beyond what he does on the scoresheet. He’s going to have a big 2021 helping a new team find footing in a tough league. Many fans will see it in years to come.
Bold Prediction: The Winnipeg Freeze win a championship within 6 years and they invite Kaufman back to be a part of the celebration, thanking him for being the first captain in the team’s history and letting him raise the trophy.