Hope you’re feeling great coming off the time change. Always great to fall back an hour. Some use it to get more sleep while others use it to toss and turn or play on their phone.
Either way, it’s good except knowing eventually you’re going to lose that hour. But that’s then, this is now.
Do you know what time it is? It’s Take time.
Take 1: It’s always great when a four-game set wraps up as teams and fans can see something different. After this next set of games, things will open up and more East vs West will be just so great to watch. The travel really increases and time on the bus can get tough at times, but it’ll be great to see some communities that we haven’t been able to see in a long, long time.
Take 2: Out of all the rinks in the West division, I’m most looking forward to Waywayseecappo’s. The last time I was there, they were doing some really great upgrades for fans and for broadcasters. The low glass brings an atmosphere that’s hard to match and it’s just a really cool place to go.
Take 3: Looking at the schedule this weekend, all 12 teams are in action on Friday night and there are some wicked matchups to look forward too. Pistons vs Blues will probably get most attention in the East but don’t look past Portage vs Freeze. The Freeze want to catch the dogs this year and the Terriers are building some positive vibes heading into hosting the Showcase. That’ll be a good series to watch.
Take 4: In the West, which is just about as tight as you could get in the standings, I’ve circled Virden vs OCN. Virden needs to make a move here and OCN is riding high after a big weekend. Both teams have to be selfish and can’t take points only to give them back. No way either team can come away from that series even. One team needs to take advantage. My guess is Virden. I’ve been wrong in underestimating the Blizzard before so I won’t be too hard on myself if I’m completely off base.
Take 5: During the Pistons vs Freeze game on Sunday night, I was in the booth when a linesman had one of the toughest sequences, I’ve seen in quite some time. I’ll explain. The play is coming up the boards, puck gets chipped out past the blueline and is kind of in his feet. Play is live so players rush over and end up sandwiching him into the boards with a pretty solid hit. He shakes it off only to have the play come right back at him and it happened again! It was like straight out of movie. The only thing missing was the little birdies around his head. He was totally okay while the other officials couldn’t help but laugh. They’ve been there and there’s something just a little bit funny any time a ref gets run into. Everyone seems to enjoy it. Almost everyone.
Take 6: There needs to be a refresher memo or email about this hybrid icing rule. What is it exactly? What makes it an icing vs what keeps play going? Is it when the puck crosses the line? Does the opposing player have to have a clear lane to the puck? There seems to be a lack of clear-cut outline and it’s caused some issues. Around the league, coaches are having to deal with blown calls. Where a face off is at any point of a game is big. It can’t keep getting whistled down then brought back to center ice. I do fully expect it to get ironed out sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, it’s just something we all have to deal with.
Take 7: I was talking with some volunteers over the weekend and just going over how things have been this year. Crowds look like their getting better and with worse weather on the horizon, I’d expect even more fans to flock to games. Security has been good. People understand the world we live in and have been doing what they need to, doing their part in keeping everyone safe. With all that, it was great to see a hockey card signing happen again in a lobby. Kids got to see players up close. Parents got to see their kids interacting with the community. It just felt normal again and it was a pretty cool moment.
Take 8: Being a scout is a tough, tough gig. You got to arena’s all over the place. You have your eye on a couple guys. You got to make your pitch and keep tabs on how a guy is doing. You’re betting on what an 18-, 19- or 20-year-old may turn into as a player and a person. Not an easy thing but NCAA and CIS scouts are pretty amazing at what they do. Can’t wait to see them all lined up around the Showcase waiting to talk to guys.
Take 9: With that being said, I do want to share a story from a number of years ago. It was during the Showcase when it was in Headingly at the Bell MTS Iceplex. Players and scouts lined the hall. Conversations between schools and coaches were happening all over. Except for one player. I won’t say his name, though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind but just in case, I won’t. He saw me standing by the door and came over to chat. We talked about the game and he kind of waited around to see if any scout wanted to talk to him. No one did. He kind of looked at me with a little disappointment and said something like “well, guess I’m a no one here today. Maybe one day they’ll want to talk to me”, and he went towards the bus.
You bet they wanted to talk to him and it sure didn’t take long. He became one of the top players in our league for a number of years. I’ll never forget when he told me he committed to a NCAA Division 1 school. I brought up that conversation and he told me he remembered. He said that it was in those moments he decided it didn’t matter if he was scouted, he would succeed. He would make them notice him. He didn’t sulk or pout, he went to work and it paid off big time.
I share that story ahead of the Showcase for players that maybe don’t get the spotlight or don’t get all the attention. One event doesn’t make or break your career. One conversation had or not had; doesn’t mean you can’t go far in the game. Hard work pays off and so does self-belief.
Take 10: Which team needs a new logo more, Selkirk or Winkler? Both could use a bit of a re-design if you ask me. Which no one did, but I’ll share my opinion anyways. Winkler’s color scheme is great, the orange and black looks good, but the logo doesn’t really keep up. I mean, it’s a standard W but why so many feather like things on the side? Shouldn’t there be only two so it’s more like WF? Or maybe take the W out all together and just go FLYERS.
As for Selkirk, the lettering is awesome but who’s the little fella with the hockey stick doing an impression of the Kool-Aid man? They should have him bursting out through the logo, not limboing underneath it. Or take him out all together and have the STEELERS more like metallic.
Easy for me to say. Jersey designs are neither cheap or easy to come up with. Maybe we can make it so the winner of their upcoming four-game series gets an unlimited budget to do something with their jersey’s.
Take 11: It just dawned on me that there will be hockey at 10:30 in the morning at the Showcase. I do not envy the teams having to play at 10:30 in the morning. We had a 6:00 game on Sunday and it threw me off the entire day. What time will guys get up who have a morning routine? 4:00 am? That’s going to be tough but at the same time, there’s hockey all day for three straight days. I’ll sign up for that any time. Can’t wait to find out the schedule for the Showcase, too. The matchups are going to be sick! No matter where you are, try and come down and take in some of the amazing hockey action. You’ll also love Stride Place, too.
Take 12: Another personal story, this time for broadcasters, both radio and Hockey TV. We’ve all players parents after a game. We’ve talked to them and they usually say how much they appreciate the work we do and the passion we have for the game and the team. Sometimes it’s the only connection they have to their sons. Some live thousands of kilometers away and may only get out to see him once in the entire year. Yet, every game, they listen in to us. They cheer, they invest and they listen. It at times can be hard if you think “oh, who’s really listening”, it can be a lonely feeling sometimes. Just remember, someone’s listening. Someone wants you to do a good job. There are people who appreciate the job you do and the effort you put in. Yes, I’m saying that for me as much as I am other broadcasters around the league. Also, I am biased but I think the MJHL has some of the best play-by-play talent in the CJHL and even beyond.
Parents, talk to your local broadcaster, let him or her know you’re there with them, hanging on every word. Also, let them know some funny stories about your kid. Broadcasters can always use more content when it comes to letting people into the personality of the players they cover. The more embarrassing, the better, haha!
Bonus Take: It came out this week that a pair of players have committed to NCAA Division 1 programs. Quinton Pepper will be furthering his education and hockey career at St. Thomas University while teammate Jack Rogers will be doing the same at St. Cloud State University.
Really amazing accomplishments for both young men and their families. What a special moment for the people in their lives. Big congratulations to Spicy P and Jumpin’ Jack.
There will be many more announcements from across the league over the next few months. The MJHL has become a league where players make their mark and continue on to the next level. The MJHL as a league has worked very hard to produce players and people to a higher level and it’s paying off as more and more players move on.
The MJHL’s motto is ‘Play Here, Go Anywhere’.