Take 1: Never before can I remember two games being postponed due to player injuries on the same night. Thankfully, both players involved are okay and on the mend. It’s an experience that no one ever wants to be a part of but when it happens, it’s comforting to know there are people around to make sure the player in the best possible care. Wishing all those involved from the player, the families, their teammates, the staff, the crowd and everyone who was understandably shaken by either seeing or hearing about what happened, all the best.
Take 2: We sort of touched on it but I wanted to say a special thank you to the trainers across the MJHL. It often takes an event like this to remind us just how important they are and just how skilled they are, as well. Drayden Kurbatoff took to his social media to post a message and here it is: “I just want to reach out and say thank you to everyone who has reached out to me! Thank you to the EMS team as well as a huge thank you to Eugene Ross and the Portage Terriers trainer who helped me the entire time Saturday night! I’m doing well and will be back soon! Thank you”.
Take 3: Hard turn from the last two but you have to figure it’s only a matter of time until an MJHL team goes with the new fad of individual goal songs. The question is, which team will be the first? My guess… either the Dauphin Kings or the Niverville Nighthawks.
Take 4: It’s something that comes up every year and it drives goalies and their families crazy. I’m talking about shots on goal. It’s a very, very important stat and it has to be right every night. There has been greater attention to detail and some rinks have multiple people keeping track of shots on goal, which is fantastic. To the shot counters who take pride in keeping proper track, keep up the great work.
Take 5: New rookie scoring leader alert! Josh Lehto from Virden has 12 points in just 10 games. Said it before but the rookie scoring race throughout the year is going to be a whole lot of fun. The question will be which young whipper-snapper (I’m 34, that’s old enough to use that term), can withstand the grind and push through when teams tighten up defensively.
Take 6: The leading MJHL rookie defender in scoring is Warren Clark from Steinbach. He scored his first MJHL goal at Credit Union Place in Dauphin and has added 9 assists for 10 points in 11 games. Goalie’s Owen LaRocque of Virden and Cole Sheffield of the Kings lead in goalie rookie wins with 4. Swan Valley’s Loic Mainguy-Crepault is the only rookie goalie not to have a regulation loss this year.
Take 7: The number of back-to-back games hasn’t changed but does it feel like teams who travel on the second half of a back-to-back have had a tougher time of things early on? Maybe it’s the length of travel. Last year, for obvious reasons I don’t want to say out loud at risk of jinx, but teams stayed close to home or at least in the division. Maybe we don’t appreciate “bus legs” and what they can do to teams early in the year as much as we should.
Take 8: What is going on in Selkirk? I’m sure the minds behind the scenes have a plan and something they’re working towards but it’s got to be hard to see some of the moves that have taken place lately. Again, I’m sure they have a plan and are working towards it but it doesn’t make saying good bye to talented players now any easier.
Take 9: Former Portage Terrier defenseman Owen Murray is only 19! A fact I pointed out several times in the upcoming alumni interview on MJHLHockey.ca. He’s an incredibly well-spoken young man who really valued his time in the MJHL. Here’s a little story after we stopped recording. I had a bit of an allergy attack so my eyes started to water and made it look like I was crying. Owen, Erik Swar who set up the call and I joked about how inspirational Owen can be. Owen laughed and then told us that his dad is actually one of the best speech givers Owen has ever had. He said his dad would give the old run-through-the-wall speech and guys in the locker room loved it. Well done, Mr. Murray for keeping the art of a good old inspiring locker room speech alive and well.
Take 10: Only two teams this year have had more than 1000 fans at a game. Virden and Steinbach. There have been a number of games that have less than 200. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a fan that goes to home games and supports the local team. If you are that person, try to bring someone new to a game. Buy a ticket and bring a person or two that has never been. They may like it, they may not, but at least you’ve tried.
Take 11: I really love when teams do different things to help raise money or awareness. Swan Valley did a hockey pool, which had a good response. Waywayseecappo is auctioning off their orange jerseys used for the National Truth and Reconciliation Day game. You don’t have to be a fan of just that team to support. Keep an eye on the MJHL teams on social media and give them a like or follow.
Take 12: Speaking of unique things, I came across Titan Talk for the first time! What a cool idea from Neepawa. Titan Talk has a kid interviewing a player. It’s a really cool way of connecting the community and getting to know players. It’s on Youtube and you should check it out. I hope other teams take the lead and do something like it.
Take 13: How are they going to decide who goes to the showcases this year? There are so many good players that it’s going to be hard to choose. You just know a few guys will be left off and we’ll all be wondering “oh, how do you not take THAT guy?”. Happens at every level. They’ll try to include every deserving player but that’s not possible. If your guy doesn’t get picked, normally I’d say tell them to use it as motivation or something… but I wanna be popular so, yeah, I’m with you! How could they leave HIM off the roster?! I got your back.