Take 1 – Bryce Bryant of the Virden Oil Capitals has committed to play NCAA D1 at Bemidji State University. Bryant is another name on a long list of MJHL players that have and will continue to commit to NCAA programs this year. The 2006-born forward is a hometown Virden product and was auto-protected by the Oil Caps’ just last year. Congratulations to Bryce and his family.
Side note: The most recent MJHL’er to commit to the Bemidji State program other than Bryant is none other than 2022-23 MVP, Lucas Brennan.
Take 2 – The MJHL Showcase is coming up next week. It’s going to be an insanely fun three days full of great hockey. Every team under one roof, playing on two rinks, back and forth all day long. Get tickets for a whole day, it’s going to be worth it.
Take 3 – As much as you may want to go for all the games, it’s understandable that might not be possible, so the next best option is watching FloHockey. Kevin Pauls and I will be broadcasting all 13 games. Kevin is an excellent broadcaster. His knowledge, detail, passion and fun personality will make it a great experience. It’s a pleasure to work with him and it’s going to be great. I’m told he may even wear a suit! Also, you never know if a special guest or two will drop by.
Take 4 – We’ll do our best to celebrate those behind the scenes that make the Showcase possible. From talking with people in the league office to the staff working the whole weekend making sure players and teams are taken care of. Many individuals from teams across the league work very hard to make it a great experience for the players who are all playing road games regardless of if they’re considered the “home team” on the scoresheet. Keep an eye out on the MJHL social media for interviews of players, cool footage from ice level, and some familiar faces.
Take 5 – I was lucky enough to head up to OCN this past weekend to broadcast a game and I have to say, it was an awesome experience. Great atmosphere, the rink is well suited for the team, the fans were loud plus not afraid to chirp a bit and the volunteers were so, so great. Their game day operator is incredibly talented plus the wonderful lady who manages the FloHockey stream, plus a whole bunch of other things, is truly a joy to be around. I did miss one guy that was there the past few years. Braydon, known to some as Peter, has moved on from doing music at the Blizzard games and is now working with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He was always great to chat with, share some laughs, and even eye-roll the horn usage from time to time. He takes a lot of pride in what he does, and everyone is really glad to see him continuing on in the WHL.
Take 6 – Speaking of the Blizzard, they have a special jersey auction on now. Fans of the MJHL have a chance to own a bit of history as it’s the same jersey they won their first game in at their new home, the Roy H. Johnston Arena. Orange Shirt Day jerseys are available for purchase with profits going to OCN Minor Hockey. Shawna Hrappstead designed the jerseys, and they look great. If you’re a fan of the Blizzard or just love hockey history, this is something to jump on. Check out the team website for details.
Take 7 – I was thinking of a polite way to say it but I just must be blunt… more people in Swan Valley need to start going to games. It’s a great night out, a fun team to watch, and yet, there are way too many empty seats for home games. They have great family packages, their 50-50 is always one of the highest in the league on a nightly basis, and they have a lounge. There is no reason that place shouldn’t be more packed for when the Stamps are in town. The team means a lot to people in the area, and I guarantee they’d appreciate families bringing kids down to cheer them on and give fist bumps too as they head onto the ice or back to the room.
Take 8 – Neat fact, the Steinbach Pistons have been in Steinbach since the 2009-10 season. This past Friday night, forward Brady Ingebritson became the 350th player to suit up and play a game for the organization.
Take 9 – There was a big food drive in Niverville recently and it was pretty special to see how many of the players wanted to come down to help out. It wasn’t just two or three of the players, but a whole group showed up at a local grocery store and they filled several baskets worth of food that all stayed in the community. Talking to them, they were just so proud to be able to give back to a town that has given them so much. From cheering them on at games to helping them feel at home, it’s a great thing to see the Nighthawks players truly care and get involved. They also really seemed to enjoy giving the bill to coach Kelvin Cech!
Take 10 – It has to be a Manitoba Junior Hockey League record but when was the last time a team scored 9 goals in a game and followed it up by allowing 9 goals in a game? Not the kind of history the Waywayseecappo Wolverines want necessarily but talk about learning lessons! Can’t get too high or too low, especially this time of year.
Take 11 – Like it does most years, the league scoring leaders are starting to find their groove and most of them come from the 2003 or 2004 age group. There are two players from the 2005 class who are lurking though, and that’s Dawson Zeller of the Winnipeg Blues and Virden’s Nolan Chastko. The 2006-born Matthew O’Sullivan is the youngest player to be tied in the top 20 in points, so far. All three teams would say their best hockey has yet to be played but all three can also say that they have young talent that they can really see becoming keys to their future success.
Take 12 – The Winkler Flyers are not just the only undefeated team in the MJHL, they are ranked number 1 in the CJHL Top 20. There was an article recently about the club on the MJHL website and it was pretty neat to read Head Coach Justin Falk’s thoughts on it all. Check it out for yourself but to kind of sum it up, yeah it’s all great but they don’t really put too much stock into it at this point. They have much higher goals and expectations then being on that list. They want much, much more. It’s also neat to read about how despite being the top team, they are not settling into being the hunted, they have games circled and they want to keep bringing the orange and black attack. They have games against OCN, Neepawa, Dauphin, Steinbach and Niverville to close out the month. Can one of those 5 teams put a 1 in the Winkler loss column?
Take 13 – As mentioned, there is only one undefeated team left in the MJHL, but there is a goalie outside the tandem of Malachi Klassen and Liam Ernst that also has yet to lose a hockey game when starting. Cole Sheffield in Dauphin is 6-0 with a 1.81 GAA. Gavin Renwick in Portage has yet to lose in regulation, going 2-0-1 in three games.