If there’s one feeling most players from the MJHL share in regards to the 2019-20 season, it would likely be the disappointment felt surrounding the end to the 2020 post-season.
When the global pandemic forced the league to cancel the remainder of playoffs, Lane Kirk and his Swan Valley Stampeders were fresh off a lopsided, 10-1, game three win over the Wolverines on home ice.
With a 2-1 series lead, Kirk and the rest of his teammates were poised to return to Waywayseecappo for game four when the hammer dropped on 2020.
“It wasn’t the news we were looking to hear after a game like that. We needed a bounce back game in game three and that’s what we got, to hear it was all over was definitely tough news,” Kirk explained.
Luckily for Kirk, things didn’t change too much when the season ended as the now 20-year-old veteran was able to continue his job. The one change Kirk has noticed, is when it comes to playing the game he loves in the midst of a global pandemic.
“I’ve been able to work throughout the whole pandemic at the local credit union here in Swan. I’ve been playing a lot of golf and working out. Other than that, it hasn’t been too much, just hanging around home.”
“I’ve been able to skate a few times in the city. It’s definitely different, you walk in one door and leave out a different one. There’s tape all over the floor, tape in the dressing rooms so you’re not sitting so close to your buddies, it’s a bit of a change.”
While there may be a difference from last season to now, Manitobans can feel fortunate that they’ve been afforded the opportunity to watch meaningful MJHL games come October.
It’s no different for Lane Kirk as he gets to do something only a handful of young kids can dream about. When he steps on the ice in 2020-21, it will be his fifth season playing for his hometown Stampeders which is something he didn’t think was possible.
“I don’t know if there’s words to describe it,” Kirk shared with a laugh. “It feels like its been a while, it being my last year I really can’t wait to get things under way. I don’t think we want ever to set the bar too high, but we’re definitely going to have a good squad here in Swan for my last year, anything’s possible.”
“It’s crazy to think about. Growing up as a kid you never know if you’ll ever make the team let alone play for them for five years. Being a home-town kid, it’s pretty crazy, I remember being a young guy sitting across from the 20-year-old’s who looked like they could be my dad and now I’m that guy,” Kirk concluded.