Happy New Year! It’s so great to be back in the rinks across the province. I think we’ve learned from the past couple years just how many people need the MJHL and love the game of hockey.
Let’s sink our teeth into some hockey talk here to kick off the un-official second half
Take 1: Every year I think, “oh, the deadline is so slow” or “I can’t believe he didn’t move” and every year I get surprised. I’m a big trade deadline guy. I follow along to what both the MJHL and SJHL do and there were some major moves this year. Virden adding Nathan Driver. Dauphin adding Logan Calder. Steinbach adding Jackson Betcher. Waywayseecappo adding Joey Moffatt. Winkler bringing in Troy Hamilton. That’s just to name a few of the guys who will be wearing new jerseys. Some deadlines can be a bust but the 2021-22 version sure lived up to the hype.
Take 2: For there to be buyers, there has to be sellers. I get what a team like Portage is doing. They’re looking towards next year and have a legit shot at the playoffs this year. I was pretty surprised to see Selkirk tear it down the way they did. They are right in the hunt for that fourth and final playoff spot. It’s easy for me to criticize from the outside and who knows, maybe in a few years when the Steelers are winning every night, we’ll look back at the pieces they got from this deadline as a major reason why. Selling is not just a matter of getting whatever for your players, there’s an art to it. Time will tell if the Steelers did it right.
Take 3: A different thought process on the deadline. For players who are moving to different organizations, it can be tough but also pretty exciting. For parents and billet parents, it can just be tough. Wishing all the people around the players who are moving off to new adventures all the best as they cheer on their boys from wherever they may be. Players make a huge impact in the community and with families, something felt when a player moves on.
Take 4: One final thought and more of thank you to throw out to Benny Walchuk. He did such a great job tracking the trades the week leading up to and on deadline day itself. He’s plugged in and well informed. It also helps that he’s one of the nicest guys around the game of hockey. If you want to know what’s going on, there’s few better than Benny to let you know about it. Check out bennywalchuk.blogspot.com to see his work. Bookmark it already for next year.
Take 5: A name that maybe got lost but will have a big impact on his new team in my opinion is Tristan Thompson in Neepawa. A really nice offensive add by Ken Pearson and should fit in well with the other 20-year-olds on the team. The Titans are gunning not just for a playoff spot to but make some noise when they get there. It’ll be fun to see how much Thompson helps in the next few weeks.
Take 6: Having a capacity limit sucks. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I know it’s for health purposes and I’m totally supportive of that. I respect and understand it. Not having buildings with lots of fans is strange. With that being said, I do enjoy hearing the chatter. We’ve all heard coaches and ref’s, players jawing on both sides and more. But I got to hear the officials talking about just how cold it was in the rink and laughing at each other for things said or done. Referees are a special group of people and it was a cool moment to hear how close some of the officials in our league are.
Take 7: Here’s a way to early random thought… how are we going to pick MJHL award winners this year? I know every year is always tight but this year may be one of the toughest.
Take 8: Lots of people are doing the 10-year challenge. Here’s some MJHL stats from 2012.
Leading scorer – Kings forward Jesse Sinatynski with 43 goals, 50 assists for 93 points in 59 games
Top scoring defender – Blues defenceman Connor Cleverley 38 goals, 31 assists for 69 points
Top Goalie stats- Wins: Kings Jeremy Pominville and OCN’s Justin McDonald tied with 27.
Goals against average: Kings Brian Archibald with 2.32
Save percentage: Pistons Corey Koop with .926
Most shutouts: Pominville and McDonald with 5
Best overall record in the regular season: Dauphin Kings
League champion: Steinbach Pistons
Take 9: Is there such thing as an insulated dress shoe that actually looks good? Asking for coaches and broadcasters a-like. Any invertors reading this, you’re welcome.
Take 10: Can you believe there are only 22 or 23 games left in the regular season? Has it not felt like it’s flown by? It’s going by too quick at the same time, playoffs are around the corner and that’s always exciting. Still can’t believe how quick the year has gone by, though.
Take 11: I think it’s great to have a guy like Kelvin Cech back in the MJHL. Kelvin will do a great job with the Niverville franchise. The area is hungry for hockey and while the job is a pretty massive one, Kelvin seems up for the task. Fun story, Kelvin’s first game as Head Coach of the Winkler Flyers was against the Steinbach Pistons who ended up winning that game. When asked if he owes Paul Dyck one after that loss, he just laughed and said, “Kelvin never forgets”. Let’s just pencil in Niverville vs Steinbach in Niverville for the first game in 2022-23, shall we?
Take 12: In baseball, the New York Yankees announced that Rachel Balkovec will become the first ever female manager in the minor leagues. How long until the MJHL has the first female assistant coach or even a head coach? It’s only a matter of time. There are some fantastic hockey minds coming out of Manitoba and if they want, can easily slide into the coaching ranks. Can you picture an MJHL with head coach Jocelyne Larocque or Brigette Lacquette? Absolutely.