Week 1 2022-23
I’m very excited to be back for another year of Manitoba Junior Hockey League action. Also, thrilled to add another Take thanks to the Niverville Nighthawks. This season, the Takes will be coming out every two weeks but don’t worry, we have some fun things planned for MJHLHockey.ca over the year. Thank you.
Take 1: Home openers are always very special for the teams and the players across the league. It’s pretty much a full day/evening to-do these days. From local donations of food or musical talent leading up to the game, it’s a great way to get the fans hyped up for the start of the hockey season. Well done to all the teams around the league that continue to one-up the job they did the year before.
Take 2: While home openers are special, franchise opening nights are on the next level. The Niverville Nighthawks organization and maybe more so their fans, made sure it was a night people there won’t ever forget. What an electric atmosphere and it almost felt like a reunion of sorts with so many hockey people coming together. Really cool.
Take 3: On a related note, shout out to the Zamboni drivers. They make it look easy as they’re cruising around on the ice. But, when something goes wrong like it did in Niverville Saturday night, they are also able to fix problems on the fly. There was a bit of a delay but, when things did get sorted, the Nighthawks Zamboni driver got the first real big cheer and he loved it. So did the fans.
Take 4: MJHL Trivia Question: Who was the first ever goal scorer for the Niverville Nighthawks, how did he score it and where?
Answer: Brendan Bottem. On the power play. In Steinbach.
Take 5: I like that Original 16 is a sponsor this year, backing the Stars of the week. I can’t be the only person who saw Original 16 Stars of the Week and thought they were picking 16 stars. I know they could do that easily given the talent in this league but it makes more sense that there’s three and they’re the sponsor. It’s early season for all of us.
Take 6: The MJHL continues to work hard promoting players to the next level of their hockey and educational careers. More and more players graduate from the league and go on and do great things. With that said, more are choosing to stay for an extra year or two, furthering their development with MJHL teams. That’s huge for this league. Developing talents for the next level and having them want to stay is a win for everyone.
Take 7: Winkler’s Mike Svenson had the first 4 goal game of the 2022-23 season. Riley Zimmerman from OCN also has had one, already. With there being more and more chances to flex scoring muscles, is ten 4-goal games possible across the league? Would fifteen really be out of the question or surprising if it happens? More goals means more entertainment… but more sad goalies.
Take 8: After two games, who leads the league in penalty minutes? The Winnipeg Freeze. They amassed 26 PIM’s in two games. Last season, it took them triple the time to hit that number. Tristan Bear has contributed the most to the penalty minute total, racking up 18 in two games.
Take 9: Early season, way too soon hot take…. The top 3 teams in the East will have more combined points than the top 4 teams in the West.
Take 10: Scott Stroh from Junior Night in Manitoba is absolutely the best. The MJHL, teams and players are lucky to have such a dedicated person. His talent is amazing but his strength as a person is also something to be admired. Scott is a strong voice for mental health and wellness. He’s open about what he goes through and is a great example to those struggling that it’s okay to speak out. Thank you, Scott, for being a strong voice for people across the province and hockey universe…. also, for catching that GIF of Hunter Degeleman and Travis Hensrud jumping into the glass in Niverville and knocking over the beverage tower. Classic.
Take 11: New wrinkle this year when teams take coincidental minor penalties, it goes to 4 on 4 instead of 5 on 5. What a great idea! More offence, more odd-man scoring chances and more entertainment. Subtle change but one that’s going to be really good.
Take 12: I’ve talked before and will again about the billets in the league. But something I thought of already this year is the billet brothers that play on the team together. For instance, Langley Kruggel and Leo Chambers of Steinbach are billeted together and on Saturday, Leo got his first goal off a rebound from a Kruggel shot. It meant something to them to have shared in that moment. It really meant something to the billet family as well. For many of us, we’ll never know how many billet connections contribute to goals but the players and their billet families sure will know. A great example of the little moments that help make an MJHL season special.
Take 13: Ending this week with a personal Take. I want to thank Kevin Pauls of the Niverville Nighthawks for all the help and guidance when launching my new online streaming channel, DABroadcasting.mixlr.com, as a way to continue bringing MJHL hockey to the community. It wouldn’t have happened without his knowledge and help. Also, thanks to Cody Buhler, Benny Walchuk, Darnell Duff, Micheal Gerl, and even a few broadcasters out in Saskatchewan for also being there when I was in a panic about what to get. The broadcasters may trade verbal jabs and try and outdo each other in goal calls, but it’s a cool fraternity, filled with great people who just want to promote the league and its players. Stick taps all the way around.