Take 1: What a great time at the MJHL Top Prospects Showcase. The league did an amazing job promoting the players, the coaches and the support staff. Was a real honor to be a part of and getting to work with Kevin Pauls is always a treat. Shoutout to all involved on making it a great event. Thanks to all the parents and fans who came out to support.
Take 2: I can’t wait to see which players from the Showcase go on to play in the MJ/SJ Showcase coming up in January. I also can’t wait to see which players that were NOT at this event end up making that MJ roster.
Take 3: The goal of the tournament goes to Carson Reed of the Niverville Nighthawks. A defender pulling off the Michigan with the puck bouncing like Flubber. That’s a 1997 Robin Williams movie reference, if you don’t get it, google it. If you do get it, watch the movie again, it’s pretty good. Honorable mention goes to Blake Boudreau of the Dauphin Kings who showed off some pretty silky mitts himself.
Take 4: Why don’t goalies get some warmup shots when they come in during a game? In the Showcase, they goalies switched at the midway point of the second period but really, anytime a goalie not starting has to go in, there should be a two-minute window to at least put some shots towards him. It’s really not fair to task a cold goalie to step in and face shots right away. Give the tendy a chance to get a rhythm.
Take 5: Another Showcase note, the future is so bright in the MJHL. The U18 games had a little bit of everything from highlight reel saves, goals, little chippy at times, and some edge. Really, two great games by some of the current young stars and future ultra-bright lights in hockey. The line of Nick Mikan, Zach Nicholas, and Steven Arp really impressed people. Mikan, whom I get to see on a game-by-game basis with Steinbach, was a beast and showed he’s going to be something special. Noah Szabo also deserves the spotlight for the way he played showing how it’s not always points that get you recognized, it’s a steady, confident, well-rounded 200-foot game.
Take 6: Next year, I say we have a Showcase Skills Competition. Fastest skater, hardest shot, most accurate with the little targets, something to do with passing and let’s get the goalies to shoot into an empty net. If that’s too easy, let’s put one of those shoot-to-win boards in front and see which goalie can hit the money.
Take 7: A big congratulations to Lucas Brennan who committed to Bemidji State University about an hour after the showcase ended. Really well deserved. Had a chance to chat with him while in Portage and it was great to have that opportunity. A really good, determined guy who’s going to keep representing the MJHL very well as he goes beyond playing in the league.
Take 8: Judging from the interest players were shown from scouts at the Top Prospects Showcase, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of commitment announcements over the next couple of weeks.
Take 9: Have you seen the OCN Blizzard Christmas inspired jerseys, socks and pants? Holy moly, they are absolute perfection. Whomever came up with that idea and that design deserves an award. Pure genuine awesomness. Go check out their social media right now to see what I mean. Every other team in the league is going to be jealous they didn’t do it.
Take 10: It’s really amazing how teams tie themselves to community organizations by creating jerseys in which they turn around and auction off. I’m proud to say I bought a Steinbach Pistons Military jersey. It’s a great design done by Tyson Kehler and all the proceeds are going to the Steinbach Legion Poppy Fund. Teams across the league keep finding ways to give back and having a jersey auction is a great way to do it.
Take 11: With all the talk about Ryan Reynolds wanting to buy the Ottawa Senators, I got to thinking about which celebrity would be great to own an MJHL team. If we stick just in Manitoba, how about Cindy Klassen? She could let the starting 5 plus the goalie wear an Olympic medal while standing at the blueline for O’ Canada. Jennifer Jones? Imagine her curling the puck to the dot as she’s introduced as the newest MJHL team owner. Let’s go outside Manitoba and my pick would be…. Teemu Selanne. Imagine what he would bring to practice from the jokes to the skill to the celly’s!
Take 12: There are a number of new MJHL officials this year and this is an opportunity to say thank you, not just to the new ones but to the ones who have been in the league for a while. We don’t give officials enough credit (don’t you roll your eyes), they go through a lot. They hear it from both benches and both sides of the crowd. They sometimes do bring it on themselves but at the end of the day, if we didn’t have officials, we wouldn’t have hockey. So, for that, a big thank you.
Take 13: So much to talk about next week between there being less than 4 months until the regular season comes to an end, what the Portage Terriers are doing involving classrooms, the Neepawa Titans making a couple of U11 teams feel like rockstars by showing up to their game and giving high-fives plus I have an issue with the 3-star selections. But, for now, it’s time for the annual shoutout to bus drivers. Winter sucks. Winter in Manitoba can suck even more. Buses are hard to drive and people in other vehicles don’t make it easier. To the bus drivers around the MJHL and working for all the hockey teams around the province, keep up the great work!