Take 1: The trade deadline has come and gone. A couple moves here and there but nothing like we’ve seen in years past. I get the sense that we may be in for some quieter deadlines going forward. It’s exciting to think about as fans and people around the game. There was some slight chatter about a trade deadline show at one point, maybe that idea comes back in the future.
Take 2: More on the deadline, shout out to Benny Walchuk who does a great, great job tracking trades around the MJHL and SJHL. He’s very connected and respected. If you want to have some fun next year, just text him the word “rumblings” and that’ll get him going a little bit. Keep up with Benny’s work around the prairie provinces by going to WALCHUK’S WORLD (bennywalchuk.blogspot.com)
Take 3: Unfortunately, all of Benny’s great work doesn’t help him when it comes to picking winners on a Friday night. ‘Pundit’s Pick’Em’s’ debuted and poor, poor Benny W shot an air ball going 0-5. Skylar Peters was a strong week one player finishing 4-1. There’s quite a bit of trash-talking going on in that group. The biggest surprise of all was the Internet went 1-4 and here I thought the internet knew everything (wink). Can’t wait for this Friday, there’s some great games to pick from. Have your say by checking out the MJHL on social media and feel free to brag when you do better than us, haha!
Take 4: Kevin Pauls took a bit of heat in the first week of ‘Pundit’s Pick’Em’s’ as he picked his Niverville Nighthawks to fall to Neepawa that night. There were some texts and a few laughs thrown his way. Good guy Paulsy took it all in stride. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… he picked them to lose knowing that if he did, they’d win. His master plan all along was to lull fate into a false sense of security just to have the Nighthawks come away with a win. It worked so that makes him a genius…. or just lucky. Probably just lucky.
Take 5: We’re getting closer to the MJHL/SJHL Showcase taking place in Winnipeg. If you were on the fence about going, I’m here to push you over the edge. I’ve talked to a few around the MJHL and this isn’t a Sunday skate or All-Star Game friendly. This is going to be a battle. There’s a real chance to earn looks from schools, open eyes across the leagues and gain a lot of confidence going forward. Coaches and players are going there to win. It promises to be a really great couple of days so come one down and cheer on the MJHL to victories.
Take 6: The rosters for the Showcase should be coming out relatively soon. There is no shortage of amazing players in our league this year who deserve to go. Really looking forward to the surprise players. The ones who do all the little things right and maybe don’t get all the spotlight on their respective teams.
Take 7: The Winnipeg Freeze have had a really tough year so far but there is a team in another league that is having a tougher season. Shamrocks du West Island in the LQHAAA League are 0-41-1. That’s a win percentage of 0.012. They have a goal differential of –269. I don’t mean to take a random shot at another team in a different league, but all I’m saying is that it could be worse.
Take 8: More on the Freeze, there’s a scout out there right now that is going to look very, very smart when he takes a chance on one of the Freeze goaltenders. Michael O’Sullivan and Keegan Gordon may not get as many looks as other goalies but there will be someone who does dig into their numbers and realize there are two gems in waiting. Scouting careers are made on taking a chance on guys and there are far worse bets then O’Sullivan and Gordon. All they need is a chance and the right person to see what they bring.
Take 9: Stepping back out of the MJHL for just a moment, keep an eye on the Winnipeg Bruins of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League. Really skilled, high-quality character group of young men, that are led by a knowledgeable and passionate coaching staff. They have something special going on with a lot of talent that will be doing big things in the MJHL and beyond over the next few years.
Take 10: Pistons coach Paul Dyck had himself a week. First, he coached in his 600th MJHL game, a milestone few have reached. Then, it was announced he will be inducted into the Moose Jaw Warriors Hall of Fame. “Dycker” spent two years with the Warriors putting up 68 points in 144 games before going on to a very successful pro career. The Hall of Fame banquet is coming up in February in Moose Jaw and Paul told me that he’s most looking forward to seeing many of his former teammates, coaches and billets. The hockey world is a tight community. Doesn’t matter how long you go between seeing a former teammate or coach, it’s like you never missed a beat when you get together again.
Take 11: Another former MJHL player turned coach got quite the honor as Brenden Kotyk was named the Eastern Conference Head Coach for the 2023 ECHL All-Star Classic. Kotyk, a long-time Dauphin Kings defender, was named Captain for the 2011-12 season. He went on to play in NCAA Div 1, the AHL and in the later years of his on-ice career, in the ECHL. He was named the Head Coach of the South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and AHL’s Hershey Bears. Congrats, Brenden!
Tale 12: The MJHL has partnered with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba to help raise funds for sick and injured kids in communities across the province. They are selling t-shirts and hoodies with proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital. It’s super easy to buy online and they look really cool. Time is limited as they’re only on sale until January 15th. If you can, pick one up and support a really great cause. MJHL Assists Children’s Hospital Foundation on Holiday Goal | Zueike | powered by OrderMyGear (itemorder.com)
Take 13: It was a wonderful sight to see the stands full during the Manitoba Bisons vs Ukraine game back on January 9th. Many former MJHLers were in that game including former Blues/Pistons forward Codey Behun who called the whole experience a night he’ll never forget. Lots of work went in to making that game happen and for all those involved, like Codey, it’ll be a night they never forget.