We’ve entered into week 21 of the MJHL season. 147 days of hockey action. As we get closer to the end of the regular season, let’s crack on with the 12 Takes for this week.
Take 1: We start off this week on a somber note. The Winker Flyers released a statement regarding assistant coach Ryan White and his son Gordie, who has been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor.
Before this tragic news had come out, I asked a number of people about the kind of coach and person Ryan is. Everyone I talked to couldn’t speak highly enough of him either at the rink or away from it. He’s beloved by the players, well respected in the community, and at his core, a family man.
Thoughts and prayers going to Ryan, Sarah, Gordie and Molly.
The entire MJHL and hockey communities around the world stand behind the family.
While they have asked for privacy, if you’d like to show support, here’s the link to the GoFundMe page:
Take 2: Something that is hard to put into words is actually seeing a parent’s pride when talking about their child.
Recently, I was speaking with Paul Kilbourne, father of Bryce who plays for the Pistons. We were on a broadcast and while we were wrapping up our intermission interview, Bryce happened to go about his intermission routine. He comes out from the locker room area, looks at the clock to see how much time they have and as he makes his way back, he stops and talks with volunteers or the children that are there to see the MJHL players up close. Getting to see how proud Paul was of his son, the way the kids were so excited to see him or give a little fist bump… that was special for him and pretty special for me, too.
There are countless moments like that between fans, communities and players that go unseen or unmentioned. Catching this moment between that player and the kids with a parent right there was something I’ll never forget.
To all the players that take time out to say hi, give a high-five or take a picture… you have no idea what it means to those kids and to your very own families.
Take 3: How do the Terriers keep doing it? Just when you think they are down and out, they come roaring back. They are the MJHL equivalent of the Undertaker rising out of the coffin GIF that’s popular on social media. Something about that team just refuses to ever go away. It’s got to be something to do with the logo. Year after year, new players come in and just find ways to get the job done. Funny thing is, Terrier is not on the top 10 list of most dangerous dogs. I suppose Portage Doberman Pinscher’s or Portage Rottweilers really don’t have the same ring as Terriers. I bet Cody Buhler would have fun with a brand change, though.
Take 4: Back in Week 3, I came out with a Take predicting there would be less than 25 shutouts across the MJHL this year. That was bad. In the same Take, I doubled down and went even further by saying there wouldn’t be 20. That was just silly.
There are two goaltenders that have combined for 12 alone.
In case you were wondering, there have been 31 shutouts so far this year.
Will Hambley (Pistons) and Carson Cherepak (Kings) tied with 6 each. Keaton Woolsey (Kings), Eric Reid (Oil Caps), Dylan Black (Stamps), Malachi Klassen (Flyers), Nick Pineo (Blizzard), and Dawson Green (Blues) all have 2. Simon Harkness (Pistons), Tresor Wotton (Wolverines) Kobe Grant (Stamps), Emerik Demers (Titans), Liam Tereposky (Wolverines), Jayden Catellier (Terriers), and Steven Bacovsky (Blizzard) all have 1.
11 out of 12 teams have shutouts this year. The only team without is Selkirk. But, there’s time for them and the other goalies to make that Take back from Week 3 look even worse than it does right now.
Take 5: I hope that the Winnipeg Freeze can find a new place to play next year. That arena just doesn’t suit MJHL hockey. The atmosphere is non-existent, there’s really no area to broadcast from and it just doesn’t do that team a service. Yes, it’s great that they have a place to play and call home but they have much more to offer than that current rink is capable of handling. I don’t know the situation as to why they are there and I also don’t know if they are locked into a multi-year deal. I absolutely have no idea how hard it is to find a rink to play out of, so I maybe shouldn’t be so hard on it. In a perfect world, they would build their own brand-new rink and everything would be hunky-dory. It’s not a perfect world and for now, they are where they are and that’s that.
Take 6: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Family skates after the game are best. The team comes out and gets to interact with all the kids and members of the community. It’s a fantastic photo op and from a business standpoint, it gets people in the door. Families need to feel welcome to games. They become connected by things like skating with the team. Connected fans become life-long, die-hard fans and they will support the team. Business owners see how much the community cares and they want to invest with the team. There’s really no downside to things like that.
It’s always better after a win, though.
Take 7: I don’t know what surprised me more, that Boston Bird of Waywayseecappo has never had a hat-trick or that goalie Liam Tereposky didn’t have a shutout until this week. On Tuesday, they each managed to check that off the to-do list. It got me thinking that both a hatty and a shutout are pretty hard to do in their own rights. So, what’s harder to accomplish, a hat trick or a shutout?
My thoughts are regular season, it’s “easier” to get a hat trick than a shutout.
In the playoffs, it switches. Think about it.
Take 8: This time last year, many outdoor rinks were closing for the year because it was too warm to operate them. Sure, there was snow and still cold days but not like this. I’m constantly surprised at just how tough kids who love skating on the ODR are. They are out there all the time, regardless of the temperature. You lose that enthusiasm as you get older. Great that young people still have it, though. Good for them.
Take 9: A prediction about the SJHL: The Estevan Bruins and Humboldt Broncos will meet in the league finals.
Humboldt wins in 6.
Take 10: MJHL League Award Nominees will be coming out soon. They are also hotly debated. You can’t nominate everyone who’s deserving and every player that is named a winner has a pretty good case behind it, most of the time.
League awards are great but I like the team awards more. It comes from a place where it’s not just about numbers or stats. It’s about more than that. Team awards come from the guys in the room or from the staff themselves. Personality, glue guys and quiet leaders all get the appreciation they deserve. From an outsider’s point of view, team awards are where it’s at.
Take 11: With that being said, I’m glad I don’t have to pick the MVP this year. Way too many good choices. Coming up before the playoffs, I’ll have my award picks and even thinking about it now, I have 5 guys who should win. Who’s going to be a finalist will be interesting, let alone who wins.
Take 12: In Steinbach, we had 927 fans for an afternoon game. The building was electric. The sounds were off the charts. The kids were so excited to see the return of Clutch. It was amazing.
There was a moment when it all seemed normal again. All felt right.
Things are opening up even more soon provincially. Don’t take anger out on the teams because they followed the guidelines. Get behind the teams as they go into the playoffs, push for a post season berth or jump on board teams with bright futures for years to come.
Let’s keep supporting the MJHL. Get out and enjoy the games in person. Cheer on your teams and let’s all be thankful we have the opportunity too.