Lots to catch up on around the league so let’s get into the Takes quick, fast and in a hurry.
Take 1: Shoutout to HyLife who put on a great show in Neepawa when the Titans played the Pistons. I was in the rink and as broadcasters know but maybe some fans don’t, the visitors set up in the stands behind the away bench. HyLife had an event and helped fill the barn and it was rocking. A lot of new hockey fans were made and they loved it. They were cheering, they were into the play, they got super excited, and it actually felt at times like a playoff game. More businesses should be doing that, buying a bunch of available tickets for their staff and treating them to an MJHL game. Super cool idea and well done, HyLife.
Take 2: I cannot wait for the MJHL/SJHL Showcase. Just over a month from now, we’ll be seeing some of the top talent from across the prairies. Guys across the MJHL have connections from minor hockey or playing together somewhere at some point, so to have that experience again, is super cool for the players and families. Coaches get to be on the bench with other coaches, which I’m sure is a unique setup and maybe most importantly, the fans will be treated to really great hockey. First chance to see some of the SJHL guys up close and see where the MJ guys are at when it comes to matching talent and skill. All the game will be broadcast on Hockey TV in case you can’t make it, but I suggest making it down for at least one of the two days.
Take 3: When I read the MJHL would be putting together an All-Star team to take on the U of M Bisons, I threw my phone in excitement. How has this not been thought up before? It’s super cool. There are such great connections from the MJHL to the Bisons over the years, it just makes sense to have this game happen. You know guys on the Bisons are going to want to make a statement, too. This won’t be pond hockey, this will be an entertaining game. I can’t wait for the team selection, too. Lots of debate will be had as there are so many terrific MJHL players but there’s always a few guys left off that get fans riled up.
Take 4: Looking at the Bisons roster, there’s a ton of guys with MJHL experience. Goalie Jeremy Link from the Blues. Ryan Carlson, Tyler Anderson and Codey Behun from Steinbach. Mitchell Dyck from Winkler. Sam Stuart spent a year with Neepawa. Dylan Thiessen spent 4 years with Virden. Noah Basarab with Swan Valley and almost a full season with Selkirk. Long time Blizzard Tony Apetagon. The list goes on. There’s a ton of talent and recognizable names that fans will really love to see. It’s going to be a great game and wow, looking at that roster… the MJHL will have their hands full with this team.
Take 5: Since moving out of the division, is it just me or has the season gone by really fast now? I’m sure it always kinda feels like it speeds up around the Christmas season but the last couple weeks have seemed to fly by. Talking to a few former players, they commented how the 20-year-old year goes by so quick and wanting to hold on to moments. I think after missing out on so much hockey over the past little bit, we can all take that message to heart and appreciate what we have.
Take 6: Would anyone be comfortable putting any money down on how the Western Conference is going to finish? Even week to week it’s hard to know what will happen. Trying to predict who will be the top four is no easy task. You can probably pencil in Dauphin and Waywayseecappo but after that, any combination of teams can get to the dance. Not just get in but also make life very difficult for whomever they run up against. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out and I hope it remains this tight going into the final month.
Take 7: #ThankTheStripes in support of the officials across the province was a reminder that without those dedicated people, there is no hockey. Thank you to the officials. Most hockey fans can agree we’ve all been hard on the referees at times but at the end of the day, we have to be thankful. Also, for young officials, carry a note pad with you. I’ve seen some officials while a scrum is going on sitting back and taking notes. Really smart idea. Make sure you get the right guys going to the box or note who’s starting trouble. Notebooks are smart.
Take 8: One thing I really miss about there being games during the week days is scoreboard watching. With only weekend games, I miss checking scored nightly to see who’s doing what on the ice. I know we get a lot of it over the weekend and I also know it’s way too early for hardcore scoreboard watching, but I still do it and I miss movement during the week. I think we’ve all adjusted pretty well to the weekends only for games… maybe it’s something that is here to stay? Guess we will see.
Take 9: I LOVE the new MJHL website. Wow, it’s super slick and easy to use. I like seeing the headshots of the players. The stats are right there. It’s easy to navigate and it just looks super cool. One small issue is you can’t get to a team’s website from your mobile device but that’s just a small thing. The updates, the layout having so many terrific articles (like 12 Takes, free plug for something you’re currently reading) right there is just awesome. I don’t know who designed it but hats off to you sir or madam.
Take 10: I hope teams put together Christmas videos of their players singing Christmas songs. I don’t know why, but I find it so entertaining. Get a few of the players on video singing their favourite songs and put them on social media. Any time fans get to see the players having fun, it’s a great thing. Sure, it can be embarrassing, but really, it’s all in good spirits. Have some fun and get creative with your team karaoke and share it so we can all see it!
Take 11: I hope teams are planning a Grey Cup get together, if possible, on Sunday. There’s lots of players that won’t really care about who wins but it’s great to have teams spending time together away from the rink. Sorry to the Riders fans. I’d say better luck next year but I don’t mean it. I hope for the same luck you had this year. I hope they make the playoffs and lose to the Bombers. I know you wish for the opposite.
Take 12: I’m going to get on my soapbox a little bit here. Fans and more importantly, young kids love attending MJHL games and being close to the ice or in the tunnel to give players high-fives when they come off. Even after a loss, little kids will line up to give a fist bump to their team or even the opposition. Players need to be better aware of this and watch their language when the game is over or when they’re around fans heading back to their dressing room. I’m just as guilty for letting a bad word slip out and I will agree it’s a bit hypocritical for me to sit and comment on it, but some parents have brought it up over the past couple weeks. Players, coaches, team representatives… just a little more awareness that there’s young kids around that don’t need to hear that kind of language. We all want more families to attend games and we don’t want them not coming because they’re afraid of what they might hear. We want to grow the game in a positive way for everyone. This is a small way to do it but it can make a very big difference.