The calendar has flipped, players are getting in the groove, and fans are getting ready to bundle up in toques and blankets when they watch games. What a time to be a hockey fan. Let’s go with the Takes.
Take 1: Last Friday was the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. All the teams across the MJHL had a ceremony. In Waywayseecappo, MJHL Commissioner Kevin Saurette was invited to attend and he said on Twitter “It was an honour to be invited to take part in the @mjhlWolverines Truth and Reconciliation game! Thank you to the elders and residential school survivors for sharing their stories. #EveryChildMatters.”
Take 2: Mentioned the calendar turning to October and sometimes it’s really easy to miss just how beautiful this time of year is. Talking with Kate Wiens before the Swan Valley vs Pistons game, she talked about just how great the scenery is in Swan and just how amazing it is this time of year. Many people can share similar stories from across the province and from within their communities. We don’t have mountains to stare at and we know we’re a short time away from empty fields filled with snow, so if you can, take a walk to the rink and look around. Soak it in while you can.
Take 3: The discipline department of the MJHL has sure been busy this year. Already this year, there have been 11 instances that required suspension. A total of 27 games between those 11 cases. For comparison, it took until the middle of October for the league to hand out 11 suspensions last year, and it wasn’t until the end of the month that it doled out the number of games.
Take 4: Nearly 12,000 fans took in the UofM Bisons vs North Dakota exhibition game. Really cool experience for the MJHL alumni that are on the Bison’s team and especially Mitch Dyck who scored. Riese Gaber also showed well against his provincial pals. It wasn’t the final that the Bisons hoped for but still, a cool idea.
Take 5: Speaking of Gaber, he was the first in what will be a season long series of alumni interviews that can be found on the MJHL website. Catching up with players who have gone on to have success is always cool and there’s one thing that most of them go out of their way to mention beyond how the MJHL prepared them for success on the ice and off… and it’s the billets. Players always mention their billets. Doesn’t matter if it’s one year or fifteen years. Being a billet family is a forever connection.
Take 6: Sticking with talk of players who moved on, this past weekend saw St. Cloud take on the St. Thomas… but really it was a heads-up battle between former MJHLer’s and Pistons teammates, Jack Rogers and Quinton Pepper. Also, a battle of two nicknames, Jumpin’ Jack vs Spicy P. Rogers team came out on top but the moment was a special one for the fans back in the Southeast, for past teammates and the two on the ice.
Take 7: Continuing the train of building off the Take before, St. Clouds Adam Ingram, a former Selkirk Steelers, scored his first career NCAA goal. There’s a really great video tweeted out by the Huskies and re-tweeted by Scott Taylor (@Staylorsports, he does such a great job promoting Manitoba athletes). Former Portage Terrier Reilly Funk also picked up his first career goal for Northern Michigan.
Take 8: The MJHL rookie scoring race is going to be fascinating this year. Jayce Legaarden of Winkler is coming off being the MJHL Rookie of the Month but right there with him tied for the rookie scoring lead is Luke Janus from the Blues. Not to be outdone by much, Legaarden’s teammate Zach Nicolas is a point behind and tied with Janus’ Blues teammate Kai Elkie. Hard to go coast-to-coast atop a scoring race but you could bet those four names will be near the top for most of the year.
Take 9: Shoutout to those across the league that have really upped the quality of video. Watching the highlights on MJHL’s social media accounts, it’s awesome just how good most of the videos are. Good quality video allows for better showing of the talent across the league.
Take 10: Neepawa and OCN played each other three games in a row, and all at the Yellowhead Centre. Did they give the Blizzard their own dressing room at that point? Back-to-back games against the same team feels like a lot, three in a row must have had them really sick of each other. Yeah, there are more than three playoff games in a row, I know that… but it’s September/October, so it’s a bit much. They don’t meet again until December 9th when the Titans are in OCN for three in a row on three consecutive nights… what a schedule.
Take 11: Talking to players about Sunday afternoon or early evening games, some really like them while it throws others off of their routine. You know who really likes them? Volunteers. Or, better known as grownups who have to go to work the next day so any time they don’t have to be in the rink late on a Sunday, it’s a good thing.
Take 12: Congratulations to Jodi Anderson who worked her first game in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Jodi worked the lines in a game between the Niverville Nighthawks and Winnipeg Freeze. Another terrific example for young women to look up to.
Take 13: The Winnipeg Jets unveiled the amazing statue in honor of the late Dale Hawerchuk. Whether you’re a Jet’s fan or not, you can appreciate what he meant to the community and the sport overall. His family and friends gathered in Truth North Square and the legend’s bronze statue is a fitting tribute. “He is home again”, one person remarked. If you go to a Jets game this year to cheer on the home or away team, take some time and go see the statue.