Take 1: Halloween was recently and one of the best parts of that day is when the billeted players go trick or treating with the kids from their house. It’s a really special connection and it’s great to see the players get to be kids again. How much candy do they take? Won’t tell so the coaches don’t make them skate off all the sweets.
Take 2: I don’t know why but Unsportsmanlike penalties make me cringe. Just the name of them irks me. It’s like there is no greater penalty than being called unsportsmanlike. I know there’s worse, like slew-footing but just the title of unsportsmanlike conduct makes it seem much worse.
Take 3: Wanted to celebrate all the MJHL rookies that have points this year… then I discovered there are 92 guys who have scored at least a point so that’s too many names to mention, so this is a shoutout to the group. If you were wondering, last year 111 first year MJHL’ers earned at least a point.
Take 4: Coming up we have an alumni interview with Drew Worrad who is now playing in the AHL. I’ve been lucky enough to know Drew since his time in Steinbach. He’s all class and really happy for him playing in the AHL with the NHL a real possibility sooner rather than later. Drew is very open about how close he came walking away from the game. He gets into being de-committed not once but twice by college programs before finding his home at Western Michigan. His perseverance and work ethic are to be admired and his story should be told to all those who feel like they won’t ever make it. He did and now he can inspire many more to keep chasing their dream.
Take 5: The calendar has just turned to November but I think the race for coach of the year is in full swing. Kelvin Cech of the Niverville Nighthawks vs Doug Johnson of the OCN Blizzard. Lots of games left but at this point, right now, the award should be cut in half and given to each of them.
Take 6: If you would have told 100 MJHL fans at the start of the year, what do you think the OCN Blizzard record would be through 19 games to start the year, keeping in mind 12 of those games would be on the road, what do you think their record would be? I’m sure even die-hard Blizzard fans would not have guessed 13-5-0-1. Not only do they have the 2nd most wins in the league, they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Something special is happening.
Take 7: 3 on 3 overtime is one of the best things to happen to hockey. What a genius idea and so glad they put it in for the MJHL.
Take 8: I’ve said it before here that guys getting waved out of faceoffs is so frustrating for all involved. I used to put it solely on the officials. If they were to just set and drop the puck, there would be less guys getting kicked out of the faceoff circle. But I’ve paid closer attention this year and it’s the WINGERS! It seems like every centreman getting waved out it’s because guys are jumping in trying to time up the drop. It’s not some great realization and I’m sure parents of centres have known for a while, but it makes sense why refs will stop and make someone else come in for the draw. Can’t fault the guys for trying to jump in early either. It’s just one of those things but I’m sure it doesn’t make centremen feel any better knowing it’s rarely their fault, they still don’t get to take the draw.
Take 9: Shoutout to the social media people behind the scenes doing work for the team. It’s a major way to promote events, games, players… everything. It’s not an easy thing to do. There’s a lot to keep up with and coming up with fresh content ideas is hard, especially when it’s not the person’s full-time job. Players and parents really appreciate the work the social media people put in and so do those who like to keep tabs on what’s going on around the league. Fans should follow all teams, not just their favorite.
Take 10: This is the last Takes until after the Showcase so I can spill some beans about what’s going to be happening. Kevin Pauls and myself will be broadcasting all the games for HockeyTV and on top of that, we’re working on bringing as much player content to the MJHL social media pages as possible. From pre-game and post-game interviews, to players sharing their thoughts throughout a broadcast, to videos from over the course of the two days. The players are ready to put on a show on the ice, we’ll put on a show off the ice.
Take 11: OCN is the current leader in the MJHL with Steinbach and Portage right behind them. If you were wondering about what else is going on around the country with Portage hosting the Centennial Cup, here are the top teams by record across the CJHL. SJHL – Battleford North Stars (15-0-1-1), AJHL – Brooks Bandits (16-1-1-1), SIJHL – Kam River Fighting Walleye (10-4-0-1), NOJHL – Greater Sudbury Cubs (14-2-2), OJHL – Toronto Junior Canadians (18-2), CCHL – Ottawa Junior Senators, LHJAAQ – Titan de Princeville (14-2) and MHL – Summerside Western Capitals (9-2)
Take 12: Want to take a little time to promote Hockey Gives Blood. Check out their website, HockeyGivesBlood.ca and learn more about how you, your team, billet families or anyone can get involved and donate. There’s also a really special video of Regina Pats captain Logan Nijhoff being presented with the 2022 Dayna Brons Honorary Award for his contributions.
Take 13: Finally, it’s officially official…Steinbach is getting a new rink. It’s approved. It’s happening. A lot and I mean A LOT of work has gone into making this happen. Fingers crossed for a smooth build…and if material prices want to come down, that would be cool. I don’t know what’s more exciting, having a bigger ice surface where the neutral zone is normal sized or not having the walls freeze from the inside when its -40 out. Either way, make sure you’re planning a trip to check it out in 2024.