Showcase thoughts: It was amazing to see so many scouts, parents, friends and MJHL supporters over the course of the three days in Winnipeg. The players and coaches raved about the event and how much it means to them. Having the teams play regular season games with real points on the line brought out the best in everyone. Many players earned the right to be on teams radars and having in-person conversations with thoughts of what comes next. From here, the teams return home to assess what comes next while the players also keep an eye on the next major event, the MJHL/SJHL Showcase coming up January 30th/31st in Winnipeg. Teams will be selected in the weeks to come while ticket information will also be coming soon.
Niverville Nighthawks – 2-0
A very impressive showing by the Nighthawks as the put together back-to-back strong games against tough West opponents in Dauphin and the Blizzard. Led by strong goaltending and their captain going off against his former team which caught the attention of many scouts in attendance, Niverville proved they belong in the upper tier of the MJHL. As a cherry on top of a great week, Nathan Brown was named to NHL Central Scouting Watch List.
Winnipeg Freeze – 2-0
If there was any team heading into the Showcase that needed wins, it was the Freeze. They stuck with the process and pulled off victories over Swan Valley and their in-town rival Winnipeg Blues. The inexperienced club learned some lessons and come out of the Showcase much better than they went in. Scoring goals in bunches, grinding out tough minutes, getting big saves when they’re needed and holding on to leads. All boxes checked by the Freeze.
Portage Terriers – 2-0
For a team that’s working in quite a few new guys, they’re looking like a dynamic, soon to be well oiled machine that has put the MJHL on notice that the Dogs are looking to take a bite out of anyone they face. Quality depth up front that plays with speed and edge, paired with hard-nosed defence and goaltending that stole the show, the Terriers scratched the surface of what they can be and may look back at the MJHL Showcase as the launching pad to something special.
Winkler Flyers – 1-0-0-1
Can’t stay undefeated forever but the Flyers can take away that they are still perhaps the most feared team in the MJHL. Players with size that know how to use it as well as put the puck in the net, defenders that move pucks quick and a goalie who off the ice never stops smiling but on the ice is an absolute warrior. They still have a team point streak going but sometimes even a small step back can be good for a team that will be hungry to rebound.
Steinbach Pistons – 1-0-1
Outplayed their opponent in both games and came out of the week with three out of a possible four points. As a group, they took a step forward following the overtime loss to the Blizzard where they were frustrated by strong goaltending and followed it up by sticking with the process and going to the dirty areas to find goals instead of forcing things that were not working. A step forward and another lesson learned that will only help going forward.
Dauphin Kings – 1-1
Went down to the top ranked team in the CJHL and refused to quit, battling all the way back to pull out an insanely entertaining shootout win in what may have been the most talked about game of the Showcase. Players that can hit like a hammer and can move around the ice with speed and ease. As they continue to gain confidence, the lineup with lengthen out with dangerous options and their goaltending will always give them a chance to find a way to win a game.
Virden Oil Capitals 1-1
Came into the week as one of the must see teams and didn’t disappoint. Splitting the games wasn’t their ideal but the way they played proved they’re the real deal. Elite scoring up and down the lineup and rock solid goaltending, the Oil Caps should also add to their already two Division-1 commitments. One of the most impressive take-aways from the week is the way the team snaps the puck around on the power play. Crisp and with purpose makes it very fun to watch.
OCN Blizzard – 1-1
A thrilling overtime win against one of the top teams in the other division proved the Blizzard are a team that cannot be taken lightly. They can score off the rush or they can grind teams down and score the ugly goal. They hang around, block shots, pay the price and wait for their opportunity to strike. Both the forwards and the defence have the ability to be very dynamic. Young talent up and down the lineup will continue to get better and become more dangerous.
Waywayseecappo Wolverines – 1-1
Showed a lot of resolve and heart over their two games. They possess a lineup that makes it feel like they can strike at any time. Speed and physicality paired with defenders that make you pay a price in the corners or in front of the net. Crossed the line a few times and spent too much time in the penalty box but it’s easier to pull guys back then it is to push them to be physical. They’ll keep preaching what they have been, finding a way to be consistent for 60 minutes, night in and night out.
Selkirk Steelers -1-1
Came within seconds of bringing home at least three points but a late goal against took away that chance. Hustle and heart, the Steelers never cheat effort. The structure is there, they have good puck movers on the backend and have guys that can bury the puck when they get the chance. Their young players really were noticeable which is a huge step for the organization. They have some building blocks for the future while still having the pieces to push this year.
Neepawa Titans – 0-2
They had the stiffest test of the MJHL Showcase facing off against a pair of powerhouses but the Titans earned respect despite the results. As a team, they never quit, they make you pay for spending time in their zone and while they give up a fair amount of shots, most are from the outside which their elite goaltending can handle with ease. Scoring goals will be tough but they have the strong net presence to keep them in games while their young scorers find a way to make an impact.
Winnipeg Blues – 0-2
Frustrating to lose to their in-town rival but they had their chances to win that game and can use that to keep building. Showed they have a couple of game-breakers up front and calm goaltending when things start to go sideways. While they’re a step behind the top tier teams in the league, there’s bright lights on the way up as they gain more and more experience at the Junior A level. Won’t be taken lightly and will sting teams that don’t show them the proper respect.
Swan Valley Stampeders – 0-2
A very tough Showcase for a team that played better then the record. Despite going down in both their games, they never rolled over, pushing back and making their presence felt. With their forwards just scratching the surface of what they can be along with a blueline that is making the adjustments on the fly, the Stamps will look to bounce back knowing they have what it takes to compete in a tightly packed MGEU West Division.