Take 1: What a wild ride the regular season was. Coming right down the final week, there are still some questions that need to be answered. We know the MGEU East will be Portage vs Niverville and Steinbach vs Winkler. The MGEU West is still figuring itself out. Really though, out of the four teams in the West, you can make a case for not wanting to play any of them! Should be a great, great start to the post-season.
Take 2: Getting on my soap box for a moment and I know I’m going to throw stones from the un-safety of my glass house… but broadcasters, let’s make sure we do our homework and get the players’ names correct. If you don’t know, ask a coach, as a trainer, heck, ask the player himself. There will be lots of people watching and listening, we have to make sure we’re on top of our game to bring the best for the teams and the league.
Take 3: The Winkler Flyers held an alumni event this past weekend and everything I heard was absolutely positive. All the former players had a great, great time and I think the organization did a top-notch job organizing and executing the event. The game came right down the wire and the fans were treated to a great show. Big props to all the players that made it back, to those other alumni from over the years that came out to play in the game and to Tyler Hildebrand as well as the Flyers for knocking the event out of the park.
Take 4: I’m sorry OCN Blizzard fans but the next time I come there I’m bringing some type of cutting device to eliminate the horns. It’s other-worldly, insanely, spine-tingling madness how much those horns go off. When goals are scored, fill your boots! Blast the horn. But you don’t need to blare the things, yes there’s multiple, for every little thing. A penalty kill clear? Horns. A small hit in the defensive zone? Horns. A player falls down entering the offensive zone having not been touched by anyone, just tripped on his way in? Horns. Get out of town. It’s distracting, it’s loud and it’s too much. When you can’t hear music in the rink because of the horns are being blasted so much, you got to think about dialing it back.
Take 5: Since December 7th of 2022, the Virden Oil Capitals have a record of 23-5-1.
Take 6: I feel for the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and their fans, missing out on the playoffs this year after things looks so promising through much of the season. They have done some really great work there and good things are on the horizon. They’re young, they’ll be angry and hungry to make a statement next year.
Take 7: Which division would you say is strong? East teams Portage and Steinbach have the most points with 88 and 83 respectively. Swan is third, one point up on Winkler. However, 5th in the West Waywayseecappo has 9 more points than 4th in the East Niverville. Heck, even Neepawa, who is last in the West division, is just one point back of Niverville. So, what makes a stronger division? Top heavy big horses or tightly compacted clubs?
Take 8: We have to give a spotlight to a group of people who do truly amazing things every night there’s a game and they do it without ever scoring a goal, making a save or even touching the ice.
The bus drivers.
Hours spent travelling down the long, un-scenic roads of Manitoba, the bus drivers are a calm presence through storms, a sounding board for frustration at times and all-around some of the best people. They are great and if you ever bump into one of them as they’re watching the game, just say thank you.
Oh, and don’t ever call them “Busey”.
Take 9: The Pundit’s Pick’em are in the final week. Very thankful to be a part of that and it was a blast getting to be a part of that group. Loved the fan votes, too. I guess we have to take advice from Skylar Peters who as of right now has the best record at 30-14. Benny Walchuk is tied for last and needs a strong Friday night or the SJHL Commissioner will never let him hear the end of it!
Take 10: It’s always great to see community people around the MJHL teams but here’s just a reminder, if the logo is on the floor in the locker room, DO NOT STEP ON IT! Even some former players need to be reminded of that. If they do, the razzing they get will make sure they never do it again. Respect the crest.
Take 11: Centennial Cup ticket packs are on sale. If you love hockey, no matter what happens to your team, think about going to watch some of the games in Portage. It’s really something to experience and we’re lucky to have it back in the province. See teams you may only get this one opportunity to see live. You never know whom you see now and, in a few years, could be in the NHL. Make it a weekend, take some time off work during the week, and get out to watch some hockey. Shouldn’t have to worry about road conditions… I say fully aware we’re in Manitoba and anything can happen.
Take 12: Brace yourself: Incoming playoff beards. For some, it will be playoff “beards”. They’ll try their best but there are some baby-faced players in the MJHL that will just try their best.
Take 13: McMunn and Yates are on board as major sponsors for the Turnbull Cup Playoffs. A story about McMunn and Yates in Steinbach, November 14th of 2020, a massive fire broke out that eventually destroyed the entire building. No one was hurt but so much was lost. It took a couple of years but thanks to dedicated people and support from all over, they were able to rebuild and it looks beautiful. Much like winning a championship, it takes an entire team to get to where you want to go. The team at McMunn and Yates is fantastic and through adversity, responded and has come out stronger.