For players, staff and fans of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, it’s safe to say that the start of the 2020-21 regular season can’t come soon enough.
While Neepawa may have finished in eleventh for the second straight year, the organization made some important strides toward the end of their 2019-20 season. A big part of that growth was due to the play of Saskatoon native, Eli Lieffers.
“Last year was tough, there was a lot of one goal games,” Lieffers shared from his home in Saskatoon. “It was a good sign that we weren’t getting blown out every game, we were in most games. We were really focused on the community and giving back to the people of Neepawa.”
“We’ve been looking forward to this year after being eliminated from contention earlier last season. I think this coming season will be really good and we look forward to taking another step.”
Not only did the team take strides in a positive direction on the ice, Lieffers enjoyed his most successful season in the MJHL, leading his club in scoring with 19 goals and 24 assists. Knowing well that the 2020-21 season will be his final lap in junior hockey, Lieffers has committed himself to the game.
“I had a better individual year last season, I was able to put the puck in the net more. This year I’ll be looking to step into more of a leadership role, hopefully get some wins for the people of Neepawa and get into a playoff spot. It was a big summer for myself and a lot of guys on our team. This year coming back, I tried to get faster and stronger in the gym.”
When asked about getting the chance to return to hockey in today’s new normal, Lieffers couldn’t hold back his excitement when thinking of puck drop on October 9.
“I think about it everyday. I talk to the guys on the team almost every day about we want to do this season. It’s really exciting and we’re really looking forward to it. Ever since I got to Neepawa I’ve been blessed with the best billet parents I could ask for. I’m excited to see them, really everyone in Neepawa is a friendly face.”
“Kenny (Ken Pearson) and Robby (Robby Moar) have been doing great, we made some trades, have some key returning guys. Ever since I’ve been in Neepawa, we haven’t had a winning team, but coming into this season a big focus will be on the team coming together and gelling. I think we will come together and put some wins together, it should be a really good year,” Lieffers concluded.