Take 1: We are less than a week away from the MJHL/SJHL Showcase and the excitement is growing. This is going to be such a fun event. I’ve talked to many coaches in both leagues and this isn’t going to be a Sunday skate. There are serious bragging rights on the line. Both leagues are sending some of the top talents and they want to make a statement. It’s going to be a fun couple of days. Get your tickets, it’s going to be worth the watch.
Take 2: I was talking to my old friend Skip Deeg who is the trainer for the Humboldt Broncos and he was telling me a bit about the travel schedule and what all needs to be done in the days leading up to then of course at the event itself. Trainers and athletic therapists are the backbones of the leagues. They make the teams go and they make events like this possible because of their skills and dedication. Amazing group of people and we’re lucky to have them involved in the MJHL and SJHL.
Take 3: Holy Moly, what a tear the Virden Oil Capitals are on. I don’t know what Santa brought the group but whatever it was, it’s working. They have fully bought in and Tyson Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for getting the most out of the entire team each and every night. They are working hard, they are finding ways to win and they are doing it by committee. They are a dangerous team and poised to really push here as we move into crunch time of the regular season.
Take 4: I give a lot of credit to the Portage Terriers and OCN Blizzard. They had to finish a game that was postponed due to a serious injury. Before they got into their full 60-minute contest on Sunday, they played and overtime period that eventually led to a shootout. Not an easy thing for the teams to do before playing another full hockey game. Good on all involved for making due and getting it done.
Take 5: Neepawa Titans are feeling the pressure with the teams around them playing so well in the MGEU West Division but they have to be very encouraged by the play of rookie goalie Mason Lobreau who leads the MJHL 04 class in the crease with 2 shutouts. He has a .916 save % and has played the most games between the pipes of any rookie. The future is bright for that young man who will be in the MJHL U18 goal vs the SJHL during the Showcase.
Take 6: Former Steinbach Pistons goaltender Matt Radomsky has been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as one of the top players in NCAA Division 1 hockey. He’s had an amazing run with Alaska-Fairbanks and his highlight reel grows by the game. He’s also an incredible person and you can’t help but cheer for him. There are a lot of great players on the list but if you feel so inclined, throw a vote Matty Rads way, Vote For Hobey 2023 – Nominees – Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
Take 7: I’ve talked about Keegan Gordon, goalie for the Winnipeg Freeze here before and I was really happy to see him get a win over the weekend. The kid just battles and to go into the goal and make 50 saves for his first win of the year, that’s pretty awesome. I remember watching Keegan at Pistons camp a few years ago, to see him as a regular in the MJHL and doing what he’s been doing, it’s really great for him. How did he only get second star in that game?
Take 8: This is going to be ‘old-man yells at clouds’ and I get why they do it but… can teams not pick and announce stars from both teams? I get why you’d have team only three stars, especially when the players can come out and wave to the fans. But there needs to be a designated person or people who are watching the game picking the stars. It’s not a perfect science but players do appreciate being named a star of the game, whether it’s at home or on the road.
Take 9: There is a race to see if a team is going to hit the 1000 penalty minute park. Selkirk (788), Waywayseecappo (788), Portage (769), and Winkler (744) are all in the hunt. Would you wager three of the four hit quadruple digits or would you figure all four manage to hit the mark? I don’t know how those teams would feel about it but I’d venture to guess the coaches would say they’d rather reign players in then try and force them to play a certain way. Gotta tip-top on that line come playoffs, though.
Take 10: We’re going to do an extended breakdown of some of the standout players after the MJHL/SJHL Showcase but one player from the SJHL that has received rave reviews in the homework leading up is Zac Somers from Melfort. He’s on the U18 team and he’s someone that people watching may notice right away. Can’t wait to see him go up against guys like Warren Clark, Parker Scherr and Carson Reed. Man, this is going to be such a fun event!
Take 11: Swan Valley has a video out of their new Hockey is For Everyone game night jerseys. They are awesome! I love the team logo on the knees of the socks. Such a great idea, great for the league and amazing for awareness. Check out the video on their social media and I hope they pack that old barn full on February 10th.
Take 12: Cole Smith, former Steinbach Piston scored his first NHL goal for the Nashville Predators. I was lucky to talk with Emma Lingan, team reporter for the Preds and she talked about how respected Cole is in that locker room. She said she’s never seen Filip Forsberg so happy. He got the player of the game helmet from the boys after and said the puck will be going to his mom. Congrats, Cole!
Take 13: I spoke with someone in Portage on Wednesday night and he shared a bit of his life story. I won’t say who or what he does because I didn’t say I’d bring this up, but his story was a great reminder to always take care of yourself and keep battling. He has a story of resilience and to see the love and joy for what he does, really put into focus that finding something you’re passionate about is what it’s all about. So, with that, again, a huge thank you to all the people around all the teams in the MJHL. Thank you for all you do, all you battle through and for your love of the game.