We’re geared up and ready to go after a successful opening weekend across the league. Team’s had a solid week of practice to work on things they either liked or didn’t like in the first two games.
Fans are gearing up for more hockey this weekend and as the leaves turn and temperature drops, it’s starting to really feel like hockey season.
Take 1: Swan really, really, REALLY needed a statement and they did just that over OCN on Tuesday. Both teams will get their share of wins off each other in the North division but no way Swan could go down 0-3 vs the Blizzard. 47 shots in the game is impressive but zero penalties between the teams in the final frame is just as impressive. 5 on 5 hockey is better than a special teams battle.
Take 2: The volunteers across the MJHL are special people. They often do more than just one job on any given game day. There are always ways people can help out teams across the league. If you’re already a volunteer or you want to get more involved, go to a game and ask questions. Other volunteers will help direct you who can help the best. Security, game day ops, even 50/50, there are things people can do that help the team.
Take 3: It’s really cool to see the road teams have fans at games. It’s a small detail that I’m sure the players pick up on and appreciate. Even hearing a little cheering beats hearing the awkward silence when the road team scores.
Take 4: Some high scores early on this season. I wonder if it’s one of those things where the defence will catch up to the offence or if it’s just going to be a high scoring year. I’d imagine the more practice teams get over the week between games, the more they’ll learn the system and it’ll reduce goals against. Goalie will also get better.
Take 5: Speaking of goalies, playing so few games during the week, I wonder how many goalies will do the back-to-back thing throughout the year. It’s going to be hard for coaches to manage splitting the duties. You’d like to get both guys in a rhythm but that’s going to be really difficult. It takes a special pair of guys to balance playing vs not playing. Tandems will rely on each other and their goalie coaches big time.
Take 6: It’s always great to see MJHL teams out in the community doing different things. From supporting schools to helping raise money or awareness, the players being out in the community they represent on the ice is important. I remember growing up and thinking it was so cool to see the players in their jersey’s off the ice. It makes a lasting impression with kids and with fans. Raking leaves season is here!
Take 7: The MJHL needs to one up their volunteering and get team pets. Adopt local animals from a shelter. Simple idea but very complicated to pull off. I mean, where would the pet stay? Not my problem to solve, just throwing out the idea of a dog in a hockey jersey. How is that not super cute?
Take 8: Hot take alert: 3 players will hit the 40 goal mark this year. I have an idea of which three but I’ll maybe wait till after they play more than two games before releasing them. It’s been a long, long time since multiple players did it but this year, not one, not two but three guys will. Two may even play for the same team.
Take 9: There are only five 20-year-old goalies in the MJHL right now. Much like the rest of the rosters, teams are trending younger. I wonder if the goalie market will be something to watch as the season moves on. I can picture teams wanting to add in the crease, especially if they feel on the brink of doing something special come playoffs. We’ve seen it before, all you have to do is get to the dance and a good goalie can take teams places.
Take 10: It should be a league rule that someone has to sing O’Canada. It’s a special part of the game experience and it just feels right to hear it before a game. While the musical version is okay, there’s something about a live performance that just makes it so much better. Whether it’s one person, a duet, someone with an electric guitar or a choir of kids, it’s just awesome. Shout out to Steinbach’s Gilbert Fehr who truly takes pride in doing the anthem and he does a fantastic and memorable job.
Take 11: Why do padded players not jump in front of poor coaches when pucks come flying towards the bench? I mean, they have all kinds of padding and coaches have nothing. Often times, coaches are not paying attention to where the puck is, players on the bench are. Usually, the player that yells heads up is the first one getting out of the way! Guys, help out the coaches, sacrifice the body or at least get a glove on it.
Take 12: Really cool job by some teams to wait to announce their captains until the home opener. I thought it brought a nice extra touch to the opener for fans and for the players with letters. I’d like to see all teams adopt it into next year.