It’s nice to have a full week of games again, isn’t it? We haven’t had this much consistent MJHL action in years. So, before more things happen, let’s get into the Takes!
Take 1: When did wearing dress shoes without socks become a thing? Players now a days are out there in the snow, loading their bags or loading the bus in their nice dress shoes and no socks. How do I know? Because their pants are made as if they’re going into a flood. I get that baggy dress pants are not a thing but if you’re going to wear slacks that go up your leg, throw on a pair of socks. I’m surprised more players don’t catch colds.
Take 2: February is I Love To Read Month. I’ve already seen a few players like Austin Clyne in Neepawa head into the classroom and read to kids. I just get such a kick out of that. Players spending time in the community around people has been so rare, it’s just really great to see. I’m sure a lot of other teams will be doing it throughout the month and I can’t wait to see all the social media posts. Great job teams and great job players.
Take 3: Massive shoutout to all involved with the Waywayseecappo arena. It’s been a couple of years since I was there and the last time I saw it, there was a fair bit of construction going on. Between the press box and VIP area, they have really done a great job. That’s on top of all the other improvements over the years. A lot of hard work and money has gone into it and it’s really showing. Fans, players, coaches, and broadcasters alike all benefit. Really great job to all involved, it’s great.
Take 4: One criticism I do have with the Wayway rink and they are not alone in it, but it’s blowing the loud horn during play. If the team scores, that’s fantastic, honk the horn but if the team clears the puck while short-handed or blocks a shot, or even simply breaks up a pass in the neutral zone, there is absolutely no need to blow the overly loud horn. It should be illegal for any horn to go off during actual play. It can’t be easy for the players to deal with and trying to broadcast games while the horns are going off is really difficult. Especially when we can’t time them like we can for a goal or the team entering onto the ice. Let’s just dial the horn back a tad and use it sparingly instead.
Take 5: On that horn note, after the Pistons vs Wayway game Monday, I locked eyes with the guy running the horn and my face must have said that I was quite frustrated with how passionate he was with the usage. We looked at each other and he honked the horn while keeping his eyes on me. Probably a good 15-20 seconds went by and it was on full blast. I could tell under his mask there was a smile and I couldn’t help but smile, too. When he was done, we both laughed, he waved and we went on with our business. Just one of those random moments that stuck out during a long hockey season.
Take 6: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Winkler may have the most fun intermission games of anywhere in the MJHL. Tyler Hildebrand has done a really great job boosting the fan experience at a Flyers home game. From the kid’s section cheering to the videos on social media, they’ve set the bar for that sort of thing across the league. The intermission activities take it to a whole other level. The bowling looks like the most fun. They have pads against the boards, they pull back a large rubber band and shoot a kid (he’s wearing a helmet and it’s all very, very safe) into large, foamy bowling pins. It’s a great idea and it’s pulled off perfectly. My favorite part might have been watching Tyler come out in skates. He can really fly out there. It’s funny with his skinny legs and his big skates, it looks like he a little boy borrowed a pair from his dad.
Take 7: If you don’t already, you should be following @JuniorNightMB on Twitter. A lot of work has gone into building that. The time, care, and support for leagues across the province at a number of different levels is amazing. The MJHL coverage is superb. The photos of players are amazing and the guy running it is top-notch. There was a push to get the account to 6,700 followers and as I write this, it’s gone over. Let’s see if we can get over 7,000 by the end of the regular season. Tell your friends and family to follow and keep sharing the great content.
Take 8: I think bringing in hybrid-icing has been a really, really great thing. One thing I would change is at what point the officials whistle it down when there is a footrace. It’s happened a couple of times where the whistle is delayed because two players are so close and the ref doesn’t want to blow it down if he doesn’t have to. The problem is, the forechecker is going full speed and if the defender hears a whistle and holds up even just a little bit at the last second, that can result in pretty serious injury. There needs to be a clearer outline as to when the whistle should be blown so both players are put in as safe a position as possible. I hate icings, they drive me insane but I hate the risk of injury much, much more.
Take 9: We now have the answer to the trivia question, which player was the first ever signing for the Niverville Nighthawks? It’s Eric Martin! Congratulations to Eric and his family for making the commitment to Niverville and the MJHL. Pretty cool to be the first ever signing for a franchise, so Eric has some bragging rights. I hope they do a video of Eric doing “team activities” alone. Remember the Golden Knights had the one kids playing sewer by himself? That was hilarious. Let’s see if Niverville can do something similar.
Take 10: Do you think players in the MJHL, who were born in 2001 or later, would know how to use certain things from back in the day? For instance, would players know how to use a rotary phone? A record player, they would maybe know… but what would a typewriter? Think they could put documents onto a floppy disc? Could work a pager or beeper? What about the pain of having your Tamagotchi die? That’s a pain that these kids nowadays will never know. They also will have missed out on going to Blockbuster video and getting a movie or video game. I bet just saying the word Blockbuster took you back and you can still remember the smell and the layout. If you lived in the 1990s, you know what I’m talking about.
Take 11: There was a point in time where I thought about billeting if I had the set up for it. It’s very doubtful I’d even consider it now. Just because of how much these guys can eat! It’s spectacular. Not only do they eat a fair amount but it’s all pretty particular, too. They have special orders. They have things they like cooked a certain way. Billets are saints for many reasons but especially because they cook or bake for the players constantly.
Take 12: I want to say a special thank you to the parents of the MJHL. They travel at their own expense to home games or road games. I know it’s been said and will be said again but having parents or family at games just makes it so special. Seeing their faces light up when their kid takes the ice or scores a goal. Getting to see the players interact with family after the game. It’s fun to watch as the players develop friendships, so do the families, and are welcomed in.
Thank you, parents and families. You make this league a better place.