Take 1: What an amazing night at the Hockey Fights Cancer game with the Winnipeg Jets doing something really special for a group of people including Gordie White and his dad, Flyers coach Ryan. What a beautiful, touching sight watching Gordie give fist bumps to the Jets players. Gordie is an inspirational boy. The MJHL and entire hockey world is behind Gordie and his family.
Take 2: The Niverville Nighthawks also did a great job with their Hockey Fights Cancer night at the CRRC. They have specialized jersey’s that people can bid on with all proceeds going towards cancer research. Find pictures of the jersey’s and how to bid by going to the Nighthawks social media or MJHLNighthawks.ca. Big high five to Will Cuccaro for being a big part of that night.
Take 3: It’s a little late, but Happy Thanksgiving to the many American people around the MJHL, both in the game and supporting it from back home. I know the billets who have American players do what they can to try and make it feel at home as possible with a big meal. Here’s hoping everyone ate well and had lots of laughs.
Take 4: To this point, December 1st, the Winkler Flyers have not traded to bring in a player yet. That could change with the December 10th deadline looming and of course the trade deadline, but for now, that’s a neat fact.
Take 5: Selkirk forward Lucas Brennan is the first MJHL’er to 20 goals this year. He did it in 20 games. Very impressive. Brennan has 9 power play goals and even 2 shorthanded goals. If he keeps it up, he could be the first player since Jesse Sinatynski in 2011-12 to score 50 goals. That year, Sinatynski scored 59 goals in 60 games for Dauphin.
Take 6: Shorthanded goals are hard to score. This season, 30 players have recorded a shorty. Of those 30, just 5 are defensemen. Of those 5, 3 are Swan Valley Stampeders.
Take 7: In OCN, a grade 9 student named Wyatt has been doing the play-by-play for Blizzard home games on Hockey TV. He does a pretty good job, too! I think that’s just such a great idea, getting kids into the broadcasting side of hockey. The Blizzard have a really wonderful group of volunteers, too. They are just amazing to deal with and it makes calling games in that cold, cold rink a whole lot easier.
I am also glad the air horns are gone, Haha!
Take 8: Speaking of the Blizzard, they turned my attention to a trend in hockey, the hyper-aggressive penalty kill. It’s pretty effective. More and more teams are going to that style of kill and it’s a lot of fun to watch. There’s a measured risk vs rewards aspect but it almost feels you’re just as likely to see a shorthanded chance as you are a quality power play scoring opportunity. I’m sure I’m not breaking any new ground by saying that, but it’s something to keep an eye on and continue to watch the skilled, high IQ players who kill penalties get some offensive chances, too.
Take 9: If I gave you $100 to lay a wager down on who’s going to win the MGEU West Division, who would you bet on and how confident would you be in that pick in say a month? It’s going to be a dog fight in that division and 2023 is shaping up to have some must-watch games from pretty much the new year to playoffs.
Take 10: The Portage Terriers have a program where they celebrate local grade 3 classrooms and it’s really well done. They go, interact with the kids, celebrate the teacher and make all involved feel pretty special. MJHL teams across the league to a pretty amazing job when it comes to getting into the schools and making kids feel a part of something. Many players I talk to appreciate it a little more after what the last couple of years took. I think we all do.
Take 11: Titans forward Hayden Stocks stock (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist) has really risen lately. He’s now second in the MJHL in rookie points with 22. He’s got his work cut out to stay near the top but if the Titans keep playing the way they have lately, Hayden will have a chance to catch Luke Janus. Nolan Chastko of the Oil Caps has also quietly started to climb that list as well.
Take 12: I have no idea when it first started but the ceremonial faceoff is something that’s become a huge part of the pre-hockey routine. The captains or assistants take off the helmets, fix their hair (or let go wild), line up, and take a faceoff smiling at the camera. They shake hands and move along. I’m wondering what would happen if the road team ever tried to win that faceoff, what would happen? Has it ever happened? I can’t imagine a player being so gutsy as to pull the puck away from the home side. “You can’t guarantee anything in hockey except I can guarantee so-and-so is going to win this faceoff. And he does.”
Take 13: Return of the Mac? Don MacGillivray is no longer the coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Could he find his way back to the MJHL? MacGillvray is one of the most successful bench bosses in the history of the league. He’s second all-time in wins for a coach with 669 wins, just one behind Doug Stokes, who has 670. I’m sure he’s not thinking about that right now. But, could that change if the right spot opens up next year? Top spot on that list might just be tempting enough.