He had just completed his fourth regular season in the MJHL and was fresh off of scoring the game winner in double overtime during the Dauphin Kings first round playoff series against the Portage Terriers when everything came to an end.
A product of Deloraine, Manitoba, Grady Hobbs had a season he will never forget, and it wasn’t entirely due to the global pandemic.
Hobbs announced his commitment to play NCAA Division I Hockey for the RIT Tigers in early February before being named as the MJHL’s Most Valuable Player in a season where the speedy forward scored 43 goals to lead the league and was named as a First Team All-Star.
“It wasn’t the nicest goal I’ve ever scored but I’ll take it,” Hobbs said of his overtime winner in round one against Portage. “It was off a rebound and it came right to my stick, I stopped at the net and it was a tap in into the open net. The next day Winkler and Virden were postponed and then later that next day we found out the season was over, it was a weird way to end things.”
Like many other junior players, Hobbs found himself back at home earlier than expected. The 20-year-old shared what’s been keeping him busy and spoke about getting back on the ice in today’s new normal.
“Mostly I keep busy by helping my dad on the farm, it was nice when I got home with everything shut down, I always had something to do around here.”
“I’ve been working out lots and doing power skating, it’s mostly been the same,” Hobbs said of being on the ice during the pandemic. “There’s certain protocols to follow, not being able to shower after is a bit different but it is what it is. At least we can still get on the ice and not get too rusty.”
When Hobbs made his commitment to RIT in February, the expectation was for him to make the jump for the 2020-21 season. That decision changed with the amount of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation south of the Canadian border.
“There was a few conversations between myself, my parents and coaches. We just mutually agreed that me staying was the better option because of so much unknown. I just felt like it was safer being close to family with less risk involved.”
When the puck drops on the 2020-21 season, Hobbs will enter his fifth season with the Dauphin Kings, something only a handful of players get the chance to do. Should Hobbs suit up in every game game this season, he will enter the top 10 in all-time MJHL games played.
“I’m really looking forward to it, you don’t realize how much you miss playing in those big games until you get away from it for a while. I’m definitely itching to get back with all my teammates and meet my new ones.”
“I miss the compete level, having to be prepared and having the games to look forward to, it’s exciting you always have something to look forward to.”
According to Hobbs, if there’s one thing left for him to mark off on his MJHL checklist, it involves making a deep run into April.
“Personally I hope to carry over success from last year and do everything I can to help the team win. I think we’ll have a really good team, my main goal for us is to try and win the Turnbull Cup,” Hobbs concluded.