Just three weeks left in the regular season. Some teams have a lot of games to play with a lot on the line while others will look to keep momentum high in the remaining contests. Still, there is a lot to be decided so I’d bet the website “scoreboard” section gets quite a lot of views going forward.
We’re getting closer and closer to the best time of year and it’s sure to be a fun ride to the dance!
Take 1: If you haven’t seen the anthem performance by the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus at the Winnipeg Jets game recently, please stop reading this and go watch it. It was a powerful, emotional moment that was much bigger than a hockey game. From the pride of the men singing to the wide range of emotions throughout the arena, it was something that will live in history.
Take 2: Another thing that’s quite mind-blowing is that former NHL’er Dmitri Khristich is right now fighting for his country. Not on the ice but in actual battle. Khristich was in Steinbach for the game between the Pistons and the Dauphin Kings on December 4th, 2021. He, along with two other representatives from the Ukrainian national hockey team dropped the ceremonial puck drop. “I need to be here for my people”, Khristich said recently when asked why he would stay and fight. Thoughts and prayers continue to go to Khristich and all those affected in Ukraine. Fitting it would be the Kings involved in that particular game, given their proud ties to Ukrainian heritage and their yearly celebrations. It’s astonishing to think how quickly things can go from peace to war. Hopefully, it goes just as quickly back into peace.
Take 3: If you’re not good at math, this time of year can be tough. I’m not a math guy (I’ll wait a second for you to pick your jaw off the floor after that incredible revelation), but thankfully the league and the teams themselves do a pretty good job of highlighting what we need to know. Whether it’s who’s clinched or which teams need to do what to stay in, smart people have it covered. Thankfully.
Take 4: Congrats to Neepawa Titans captain Austin Clyne on announcing his commitment to Adrian College in Michigan. They have a great reputation for academics and have some incredible historical buildings. Great for Austin and for the Titans program. Also, the Titans recently wrapped up their Breakfast Club, which gets their players involved with kids in the community. I want to know more about this like what’s the age limit and are there pancakes involved.
Take 5: The Winkler Flyers set a record this season with over 900 people attending their home game on Wednesday. Hopefully numbers continue like that for the Flyers and across the league the rest of the way. Something really great the Flyers have done is partner with a local business (@SteeltreeSigns on Twitter) and create stickers showing support for Gordie White, son of assistant coach Ryan. #FightForGordie stickers are beautifully done and the Flyers will use the hashtag for the rest of the year.
Take 6: A new social media account has popped up in support of the Swan Valley Stampeders. Stampeders Hockey TV is on Twitter @Stampshockeytv and they look like their having a blast. It’s a relatively new account but give it a follow and have some laughs. Maybe, just maybe, you can get an autographed picture as well. Any time we can have some laughs and keep up with teams in a unique way, it’s a good thing. Hockey can be too serious, it’s good to have some light hearted entertainment.
Take 7: The OCN Blizzard recently gave a very nice and well-deserved shoutout to their team photographer, Kelly. She’s been there for years and her work is really well respected and appreciated. Kelly, like all photographers across the league, has to stand in the cold arena with no gloves, waiting for that perfect photo to present itself. Taking pictures is one thing but editing them afterward, that’s where it can get time-consuming. So, to Kelly from the Blizzard and all the wonderful people who photograph our league, thank you. Maybe if you see your team photographers taking pictures, offer to buy them a hot chocolate. If nothing else, it’ll warm them up a bit.
Take 8: Speaking of OCN, I have been wondering what happened to Brady Keeper lately. I knew that he signed in Vancouver but haven’t heard his name in a while, which is pretty surprising given his talent and the Canucks need on the backend. I found out, thanks to social media, that Brady broke his leg in training camp and has been working his way back for months. Recently, Brady was able to hit the ice again and start skating. Really great news for a young man with a powerful story behind his elite talent. All the best to Brady.
Take 9: With provincial restrictions rolling back, I hope the high number of fans coming to games stays where it’s at. It’s something that’s so special to all the communities across the province. Having fans in the stands means the world to the players. So many thrive on it. Fans play a major role and can have a huge impact on the game. With so many teams so close in the standings and playoffs set to kick off in a few weeks, fans may be the difference. That’s not an exaggeration. Go and cheer on your team and see just how much of an impact you have on the game.
Take 10: I don’t know if scouts get enough credit for how tough their job is. At the MJHL level, it’s an incredible balance between picking a player who may or may not develop over the years but also may develop into so much that he goes to the Western League before ever suiting up for your team. They watch so many kids and have to project way in advance. If you talk to a scout, you learn so much about hockey. They see the fine details in a player’s game. A strong scouting staff can make all the difference in a franchise. Scouts are incredibly smart hockey people and even a couple make pretty strong broadcasters, too.
Take 11: Keep an eye out for when teams are doing anything to help local food banks. With the high prices of gas and food, many non-profits are struggling to keep up with demand. If teams are holding a tin for the bin or any kind of food drive, help if at all possible. Many food banks in MJHL communities help out the smaller surrounding areas as well. Every bit of food donation or monetary donation helps.
Take 12: A 10-year-old kid pulled off a “reverse Michigan”. We all know what the Michigan is… but the reverse is when the player doesn’t flip the puck on his blade and spin around before jamming it under the bar, this kid did it with his blade normal and just walking out from behind the net. It’s seriously a wonder what kids will come up next and how they will top it. It’s not even a question anymore of “if” it’s just “when”. The creativity is off the charts and young kids pulling off these incredible moves is something to see. Can’t wait for him to explain that move when he’s grown up, in the NHL and on Hockey Night in Canada. If you haven’t seen the move, check it out. What’s even better is the celebration. The move is a 10 out of 10 but the celly might be an 11.