Before we get buried by more snow, let’s look around the world of the MJHL, hockey and a little life in general!
Take 1: If the words “capacity limit” are never, ever uttered again, I think we’ll all be pretty happy about that. Teams and staff have done a beyond amazing job juggling all the challenges that came from the restrictions. The players have been anxiously awaiting fuller buildings so fans, it’s time. Let’s fill up the MJHL rinks around the province. Cheer loud, support the team shop, and let’s make this month and a half something really special. It’s up to us to make sure the 20-year-olds have some special memories. They deserve it.
Take 2: Congratulations to Jordan Hughesman who committed to Merrimack College, NCAA Div. 1. It’s a great thing for Jordan and for the Steelers organization. Merrimack is a top-ranked undergraduate and graduate college in Massachusetts and is regarded as one of the best colleges in the Northeast. Jordan has become one of the most dangerous and consistent threats in the MJHL and to be doing it as a rookie is even more incredible. It doesn’t matter what team you cheer for, any time an MJHL player commits to the next level, it’s celebrated.
Congrats to Jordan and his family.
Take 3: More commitments! Simon Harkness of Steinbach and Nicolas Roussel of Swan Valley. Both will be heading to NCAA Div. 3 programs in the summer. Roussel has made quite the impression on the Stamps in a short amount of time while Harkness, who didn’t start playing goalie until the age of 9, has been great for the Pistons since joining the team in the shortened 2020-21 season.
Congrats to both players and their families.
Take 4: For an MJHL coach to hit the 1000 game milestone is incredible. Massive congrats to Ken Pearson who spent time with the Winnipeg Blues, Winkler Flyers, and now guiding the Neepawa Titans towards a playoff spot in 2022. A man that just loves the game of hockey, teaching, and coaching. He goes about his business and isn’t afraid to show off some personality along the way. I know players get a silver stick for 1000 games so maybe Ken should get a silver whiteboard or silver whistle or something!
Take 5: I don’t know the situation and I’m not going to just start taking shots but boy do I feel for Jase Wareham of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Again, not saying anything about the team because I don’t know the situation behind the decisions but giving up 10 goals in your first game is not the debut you dream of. Here’s hoping that he gets a chance to bounce back and, in a few years, we’re talking about how the front runner for MJHL’s Top Goalie made his debut in the league by allowing that many goals.
Take 6: With the Olympics in full swing, it’s always fun to hear the chirps between the Canadian players and the US players. Both sides can give it pretty good. Obviously, the American’s are outnumbered but they don’t let that stop them. While the men’s side was a total letdown, the women’s team for both countries made up for it and then some. The gold medal game will be one for the ages!
*Note: At the time of writing this week’s 12 Takes, the gold medal game had not been played but by the time you read this, one side will have bragging rights while the other won’t hear the end of it for a couple days. Go Canada!
Take 7: We really should give props to the amazing group of people that help the players when they get hurt. It’s bound to happen. Hockey is a fast game that’s played on ice. Injuries are just part of it but the way a special group of people reacts when someone gets hurt is amazing. They are most beloved in the organization and by the players. It’s important for all of us to appreciate what they do and how well they do it.
Take 8: A funny story from back in the day regarding injuries and trainers rushing onto the ice. A number of years ago at the National Championship tournament one of the games was set to be televised. Knowing that the trainer wouldn’t maybe get any screen time or even a mention, a player hatched a plan. He told the trainer that if he got into a battle in the corner, he would go down and stay down. He wouldn’t be hurt but it would give the trainer an opportunity to run out and get on tv a little bit. That’s exactly what happened. The guy went down, the trainer rushed out, two minutes later the player was okay enough to skate slowly to the bench. Little things even on the biggest stage. Pretty special.
Take 9: How great does the schedule look coming up, especially in the west? Whoever put it together, nailed it! So many great matchups with serious standing repercussions. Heck yes! So many tight races all over the place, it’s going to be an exciting final month of the season.
Take 10: Speaking of the final month, Steinbach will play 3-afternoon games. The usual 2:30 puck drop on Monday, Feb 21st. Then, 1:00 on March 12th in Blues country followed up by a 2:30 game on Sunday the 13th. I can’t remember any team having 3-afternoon games. While it may not be the player’s favorite (especially the goalies, who are most-perhaps creatures of habit), the sense I’ve gotten is many volunteers and fans don’t mind afternoon games. It’s a weird sense of ‘I really should be doing something right now, but I don’t know what exactly’ in the evening after the teams already played in the afternoon.
Take 11: How many MJHL players would be good at ringette? Ringette is growing around Manitoba. Lots of young players are getting into the spot at all different ages. It’s going to pick up even more with restrictions loosening and tournaments being allowed to happen. Teams should always be looking to get out and support minor ringette or hockey teams in their area. I’d like to see a video of some teams trying their luck at ringette. They may do okay against a U10 team but I think a U19 would school them hardcore.
Take 12: I want to wish a speedy recovery to Brayden Foreman. Tough injury. Well respected player from a well-respected family, just want to with him all the best and hope he’s back in the Blues lineup sooner than later.