Terriers’ Orr and Stewart named to Team Canada West

A pair of Portage Terriers’ defencemen,  Brett Orr and Dean Stewart have been named to Team Canada West (view roster) which will compete in the prestigious World Junior A Challenge. Orr, who wears No. 4 in honour of NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, has been outstanding this season for the defending RBC Cup champion Terriers. A native of Elkhorn, Orr has also contributed offensively with eight goals and 24 points. At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Orr is a key member of the Terriers’ blueline. Stewart, who hails from Portage la Prairie, has 5 goals and 7 assists in 25 games. “It’s an honour to wear the Canadian sweater,” said Orr. “It’s going to be a great experience playing against all those high-calibre players.”   Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League announced that two goaltenders, seven defencemen, and 13 forwards will make up this year’s Team Canada West roster, which meets the Czech Republic in the tournament-opener on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. ET at the Cobourg Community Centre.   “We had quite the task to go from the 60 players invited to selection camp to this final 22-player roster,” said Team Canada West head coach Tim Fragle. “I’m happy with what we saw at camp, and of the welcome we had in Leduc, and I’m confident we have a strong team heading into this year’s World Junior A Challenge. We’ll be ready to compete.”   The final tournament roster was chosen by Fragle (Sherwood Park, AJHL) along with assistant coaches Paul Dyck (Steinbach, MJHL), Mike Reagan (Flin Flon, SJHL) and Barry Wolff (Coquitlam, BCHL), and director of hockey operations Trevor Alto (B.C. Hockey League).   Players named to Team Canada West were selected from the CJHL’s five western Junior A leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).   An exhibition game featuring Team Canada West going head-to-head against Russia will take place on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Duncan McDonald Memorial Gardens, home of the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks. Tickets to the exhibition game are available for $10 at the arena box office. This year marks the 10th edition of the World Junior A Challenge – executed as part of a partnership between Hockey Canada and the CJHL. The event visits Ontario for the first time since its inception in 2006. Two Canadian teams and four international squads will form the two groups of three teams that face off Dec. 13-19 at the Cobourg Community Centre in Cobourg and the Iroquois Park Sports Centre in Whitby. All preliminary-round games, quarter-finals, semifinals, and the bronze-medal game can be seen live and free through FASTHockey webcasts at www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac.   The gold-medal game is scheduled for Sat. Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT and will be broadcast by TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada – check local listings for details.   Single-game tickets are now available for the tournament, and full-tournament ticket packages in both Cobourg and Whitby, including the gold-medal game, are still available through the Hockey Canada website.   Seven of the nine gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge have featured at least one Canadian team. Team Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and also took the top prize in 2011. The team also earned silver in 2008, 2009 and 2012, and won bronze in 2013. Team Canada East earned silver medals in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, and claimed bronze in 2008. For more information on the 2015 World Junior A Challenge, please visit www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac, or follow along via social media at www.facebook.com/wjrac or www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.  

Smiles All Around at the Pistons First Skills Comp

The Steinbach Pistons hosted their first Team Skills Competition presented by Coffee Culture Cafe and Eatery this past Wednesday was a huge success. Both the Grunthal and Steinbach Atom B teams said after the game that the event will rank among one of the best experiences in their minor hockey careers. Team Bosc/Goderis ended up winning the event 30-23 over Team Penner/Taillefer through the following events: Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting, Shootout Style, Hardest Shot and Shootout Relay. Some of the highlights from the event were Jordan Bochinski's rocket skates in the fastest skater, Mackenzie Graham's selfie shootout attempt and then the duel between Joe Carney and Connor Martin for the team's hardest shot. Fans also won $50 gift cards, coffee and cookies from Coffee Culture Cafe & Eatery throughout the event. The event was such a success that we will definitely consider making it an annual tradition. 

Kings’ Lycar named Manitoba Pork Peak Performer for the month of November

The Manitoba Pork Peak Performer for the month of November is Dauphin Kings forward, Kirklan Lycar. Kirklan is a dedicated community volunteer and focuses  much of his time helping in Dauphin area schools. Once a week, the 18-year-old second year player is involved serving hot lunches to elementary students. He also takes part in supervising classroom activities and at recess. In addition, Kirklan joins two of his Dauphin Kings teammates in the Can Skate program, teaching youth proper skating skills and promoting fair play.  Congratulations Kirklan on being named the Manitoba Pork Peak Performer for November.

Manitoba Official Bryden Hutlet steps up in a big way

When tragedy strikes, the first instinct for many people is ‘how can I help?’. That includes Manitoba official Bryden Hutlet, who stepped up in a big way following the tragic spinal injury recently suffered by Portage Terriers defenceman Braden Pettinger. The Brandon-based referee had modest goals when he established a GoFundMe page to help out Pettinger and his family. The online site, which helps collect donations galvanized support, has raised more than $140,000 in just 14 days. "I had no idea it would be as successful as this," said Hutlet. "I set it up as a place where officials could put some money aside for Braden. But the support it’s been getting, not only from the hockey community, but from family and friends, is amazing." Hutlet said he doesn’t know the Pettinger family, and only knew Braden through officiating him on the ice. As an official, Hutlet said he’s always concerned for the on-ice safety of players, and said that was another motivating factor for him to start up this campaign. "I really wanted to show that we actually care about the players," he said. "We’re strictly there to keep the game safe and fun for the players, and we do care about their safety." Initially, Hutlet set a very modest goal for the fund-raising page. He quickly had to increase the amount as the support kept flowing in. "When I first set it up I put it at $700, figuring (referees) would donate a game fee, that sort of thing," said Hutlet. "And then the next day I woke up and it was almost at $1,000, so I decided to increase it to $3,000. "And then it caught on with Twitter and Facebook, and it went viral, to say the least," he added. After setting up the GoFundMe page and the beneficiaries, Hutlet has little to do in managing the page. "I’ve spoken to the family a couple of times, and told them it’s all set up for them to take it," said Hutlet. "I don’t have anything to do with the money – it’s all through the website. "And I’ll just let it go as far as it’s going to go – I won’t raise the limit any more," he added, saying he was thinking of ending the campaign around Dec. 20 Hutlet said in all his years of playing and officiating hockey, he’s never seen a major injury like the one Pettinger suffered. "You do see incidents on the ice, but I’ve never seen anything happen like this," he said. "This is something that’s life changing for Braden, that’s for sure." From its modest beginning, this initiative has turned into a substantial amount which will really help the Pettinger family through some difficult times ahead. Hutlet said he didn’t start this for accolades or recognition, but those have started to come his way nonetheless. "There’s been a lot of good feedback from the coaches around the league," he said. "During the pregame handshake, they’ve told me they appreciate what I’ve done. And I told them it’s not what I’ve done; it’s what the hockey community has done for Pettinger." If you still want to make a donation, simply search "Pettinger GoFundMe" and follow the link.  

Steinbach Pistons’ Smith named RBC Player of Month

The RBC Player of the Month for November is 20 year old forward Cole Smith of the Steinbach Pistons. Smith, who hails from Brainerd, Mn., recorded 19 points  (7-12) in 13 games last month. His offensive showing in November topped all MJHL scorers. The runners up are 20 year old forward Cam Whyte of the Winkler Flyers and 19 year old forward Mack Hardy of the Virden Oil Capitals.  Sher-Wood Hockey Defenseman of the Month The Sher-wood Defenseman of the Month for November is Brett Orr of the defending RBC Cup champion Portage Terriers. Orr, who is not related to Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, not only excelled along the blueline, but also chipped in offensively: 14 points (3-11) in 13 games. The runners up are 19 year old Zach Whitecloud of the Virden Oil Capitals and 18 year old Lawson McDonald of the Winkler Flyers. MGEU Goaltender of the Month A runner-up for this award in October, Sean Kuehn of the Virden Oil Caps was not to be denied this month ─ winning MGEU Goaltender of the Month honours for November. Kuehn, 20, put together an outstanding 8-2 record last month, highlited by one shutout and a sparking save percentgage of .941. The native of Flower Mound, TX also posted a 1.60 GAA. The runners up are 19 year old Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons and 20 year old Zach Degraves of the Swan Valley Stampeders. IBAM Rookie of the Month The IBAM Rookie of the Month for November is Ben Dalke of the Virden Oil Capitals. The 17-year-old forward, who hails from La Salle, produced 18 points (6-12) in 12 games ─ topping all MJHL rookies in October. The runners up are 17 year old forward Josh Tripp of the Swan Valley Stampeders and 16 year old forward Nick Henry of the Portage Terriers.  

Former Blue Heisinger Named to ECAC Northeast Weekly Honor Roll

Former Winnipeg Blue defenceman and now Curry College freshman Mack Heisinger was named to the ECAC Northeast Weekly Honor Roll. Heisinger, who hails from Winnipeg, netted his first collegiate goal for the Colonels against the defending ECAC Northeast Champs Nichols College on November 21st.  He also chipped in with an assist a few nights later in the Colonels first win of the season over ECAC Northeast opponent Western New England. Heisinger has four points (1g, 3a) in eight games this season. Heinsinger, 21 currently sits 3rd in team scoring,  while his older brother Jake (also a former Winnipeg Blue) leads the team in scoring with six points in eight games. Jake Heinsinger is in his third season with the Colonels.  

Stamps Fueled by Local Talent

One of the original advantages of bringing a junior A franchise to the Swan River Valley was providing local players a chance to play high-level hockey close to home. And throughout their history, the Swan Valley Stampeders have done just that. When you think of local Valley players; names such as Dallas Anderson, Joel Mateika, Bo Storozuk, Darcy and Jeff Riddell, Jayson Argue and more spring to mind. But never before have so many local players figured so prominently on the Stampeders. Rookie Riley McKay already has a huge game-winning goal this year. Chandler Ashcroft has also been able to contribute, both on the score sheet and in other intangible ways. And then there’s the line of Cody Ellingson, Josh Tripp, and Tristin Langan. One’s a rookie, one a veteran who still won’t turn 17 until December and the other is only 19 years old. Despite the youthfulness of the trio, they lead the team in scoring with a combined 23 goals and 42 assists. The trio are also in the top 30 scorers in the league, with second-year, 16 year old Langan leading the way with nine goals and 18 assists. Langan’s success comes despite being the youngest player on the line, and with a December birthday, has usually been one of the youngest players on any team he’s been on. “It’s not something I worry about,” he said about his age. “I’m a ’98, and that’s all that matters.” Putting the three local players on one line has seemed to help all three, as all have seen a jolt in their point production. “We were thrown together at the start of the month,” said Ellingson, a recent player of the week in the MJHL. “I think that’s when we started to take off offensively.” Tripp, a 17-year-old rookie, is third in league scoring amongst first-year players. He said he was a bit surprised at how successful he’s been offensively so far this year. “There are quite a few good players on this team,” said Tripp. “I was just excited to play for the Stamps, and didn’t expect to do this good (this early on).” Perhaps all three are having the level of success they are enjoying due to the level of comfort they have with each other. “I think a big part of our success is that we know each other,” said Tripp. “We worked out together, and hung out together. That helps.” “We worked out together every day in the summer, and we’re always hanging out,” added Ellingson. “We’re all really good friends.” “I’ve known both of them pretty much my whole life – it’s awesome,” added Tripp. Langan echoed those comments, saying the fact all three know each other helps them succeed on the ice. “I’ve played with Josh all my life, and Cody and I are really good buddies,” said Langan. “I think we have a lot of chemistry on the ice, and I’m looking forward to a good year with them.” Langan, of course, almost didn’t start the season with the Stampeders, as he had a successful camp with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. But he opted to return to the Valley, and the Stamps are a better team because of it. “I think it was the best option for me,” noted Langan. “I’ll have to see what happens later on.” Training in the off season is a must these days, and Ellingson had the extra motivator for working out this past summer. His mother, Sandy Ellingson, is a personal trainer who has helped the team with strength and conditioning for several years. This group of local players might have partly been inspired by watching the Stampeders when they were younger. The three leading scorers also had their local heros to emulate.  “I enjoyed watching Ian Lowe,” said Tripp. “He used to come to the schools and I skated with him a couple of times. And Stephan Vigier was one of my favourite players as well.” Ellingson’s family used to billet players such as Brendan Mitchell and Paul Bonar. “And I always liked the local players, guys like Darcy Riddell and Joel Mateika,” he added. And who did Langan look up to? “I used to love watching Patrick Leask and Darcy Riddell play,” he said. Ellingson looked up to local Stamps when he was a youth, and now he too is inspiring young players in the Valley. “I like talking to the younger kids, and being someone they can look up to,” he said. “I like to have fun with them, going to practices and stuff.” So how high can the Stampeders, who were once in last place in the league, climb this year? That has yet to be determined. But there’s a renewed sense of optimism on the team. “If we keep playing the way we’re playing, I think we can get as high as fifth place before Christmas,” said Langan.  

Seven MJHLers named to Canada West selection camp

A total of seven MJHLers have been selected to attend the Canada West selection camp for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge. Camp opens December 5 in Leduc, Alberta. The MJHL will be sending five defenceman: Daby Gala (Steinbach Pistons), Stephen Kleysen (Winnipeg Blues), Lawson McDonald (Winkler), Brett Orr (Portage) and Dean Stewart (Portage). Forwards Mack Graham (Steinbach) and Tristan Langan (Swan Valley Stampeders) will be vying for spots among a total of 60 players. The selection camp roster was chosen by Team Canada West head coach Tim  Fragle (Sherwood Park, AJHL) along with assistant coaches Paul Dyck  (Steinbach, MJHL), Mike Reagan (Flin Flon, SJHL) and Barry Wolff  (Coquitlam, BCHL), and director of hockey operations Trevor Alto (BCHL). To see the entire Canada West lineup, go to: http://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/National-Championships/Men/World-Junior-A/2015/Selection-Camp/CAN-W-Roster   This year marks the 10th edition of the World Junior A Challenge – executed as part of a partnership between Hockey Canada and the CJHL. The event visits Ontario for the first time since its inception in 2006. Two Canadian  teams and four international squads will form the two groups of three teams that face off Dec. 13-19 at the Cobourg Community Centre in Cobourg and the  Iroquois Park Sports Centre in Whitby.   EXTRA POINTS:  Team Canada West won gold at the first  two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and also took the top prize in 2011. The  team also earned silver in 2008, 2009 and 2012, and won bronze in 2013.  Team Canada East earned silver medals in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, and claimed bronze in 2008. For more information on the 2015 World Junior A Challenge, please visit www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac, or follow along via social media at www.facebook.com/wjrac or www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.  

Former North Star Walby a Grey Cup winner

Chris Walby is best known for his Hall of Fame career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Arguably, one of the best ever, offensive lineman to grab dirt and get at ‘er. In total, he played in five Grey Cup finals, winning three. The Winnipegger was also named to several All-Canadian teams. At 6-foot-7, the big man cast an imposing figure on the field. These days he can be heard on 1290-TSN, providing pre and post-game analysis. He’s also the go-to guy for many media outlets when it comes to football, and the Grey Cup. What many sports fans don’t know is that Walby also played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He played two seasons with the West Kildonan North Stars: 1975 to 1977. “Man, I loved that team, and playing hockey,” Walby said with a laugh. “Hockey was my number one favourite sport. I never had any dreams of playing anywhere. Fact was, I really didn’t give football a second thought." “We (North Stars) were a championship caliber team. We had a fantastic combination of goal scorers (Kim Koswin, Jim Flett) and really tough guys (Mark Smerchanski and Flett). So many great guys. Great goaltending; fantastic coach. (Greg Lacomy). “I played hockey as a kid. Moving up the ranks. I played for Luxton and eventually moved to the North Stars from juvenile.” Walby was quite the imposing figure skating up and down the ice. By his own admission he played a “very rough” style of game. “The league was full of tough players,” he says with a laugh. “My first game was in Brandon against the Travellers. They had this big, tough guy and of course we dropped the mitts. After the game he came over and said “thanks, no one would fight me.” After graduating junior hockey he then turned his attention to football. “I played one year of high school,” he said. “I tried out for the Hawkeyes, and they cut me. Those were the days when no one would get cut. You kidding me! I got cut.” He then decided to get serious about football, lifting weights to build up his strength, and improve his foot speed. After a year away from the field, he made and excelled with the Junior Winnipeg Rods. He then earned himself a scholarship to Dickenson State. “I really enjoyed my hockey days,” Walby says. “It’s great to see the league has expanded and doing really well.”    

Alumni Feature: Brad Church’s journey from Dauphin to Portland Pirates

How does one go from growing up in a small city in Western Canada, playing hockey in a rink where it used to rain on players and fans inside the rink every spring, to holding down a high level job with the NHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers? Well, just do what Dauphin native Brad Church did, and you should be fine. At the age of 17, Church left home to pursue his dream of playing hockey for a living, and never looked back. Twenty years later, and it seems as though Church has lived several lifetimes – going from a junior hockey player to a professional one, from a professional coach to his current position as the Chief Operating Officer for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. It’s a journey where he learned something every step of the way, including his first step as a 16-year-old, when he made the choice between playing in the Western Hockey League, or remaining in Dauphin one more year. “I wasn’t drafted in the (WHL) Bantam draft, so I went to a couple of rookie camps in Prince Albert and Swift Current,” said Church from his office in Portland, Maine. “And I had an opportunity to stay as a 16 year old with the Swift Current Broncos, but my parents really wanted me to get one more year of high school under my belt before I left home.” So Church tried out for MJHL’s Dauphin Kings, and not only made the team, but helped them win a league championship in the 1992-93 season, scoring 38 points in 45 games, playing against some players that were four years older than he was. Playing out of the old DMCC Arena, Church said he learned a lot in his first year of junior hockey on a team with lots of locals playing a prominent part. “I was much younger than my teammates that year – Kirby Law and I both made the team as 16 year olds,” said Church. “I was able to stay home, attend school, and play hockey for the Kings. “I have so many good memories of that season – playing for Lyle Stokotelny and Bruce Helgason, they were both local guys, friends of my parents, and Bruce was a teacher at the high school. There was a real local flavour to the team and I learned a lot from these guys.” Church said some of the players he remembers skating along side that year include Bowsman native Pat Mullin and Dauphin product Brian Hlady. “These are the kind of guys who would come to practice after work, and set the example for the team,” said Church. “Their leadership was evident as a young player, and you could see how much they loved to play.” After winning the MJHL title “as an underdog” and falling to the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers in a six-game ANAVET Cup classic, Church set his sights on the moving up to the WHL and the Prince Albert Raiders – where he excelled. In his rookie season Church scored 33 times and finished with 53 points in 71 games. In his draft year, Church overcame some early injury issues to score 50 points in 62 games, and in his final year he really caught fire, scoring 42 goals and 88 points in 69 games. He also lit it up that year in the playoffs, finishing with 35 points in 18 playoff games. “Heading to Prince Albert was a life experience in itself, when you leave home, move in with a billet family, and start a new school,” said Church. “I went out there pretty ‘green’, and didn’t really understand what was going on around me in my first year. “I had (head coach) Donn Clark in my first year, and he really pushed me, and I respected that a ton,” added Church. “And in turn, he gave me every opportunity to succeed. I had such good players around me – Denis Pederson, Shayne Toporowski, Steve Kelly, Paul Healey. “We had a good team, and I had a couple of really good years.” Church also was a late cut at tryouts for representing Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and of course was a first-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals. “I remember in my second year when the (NHL draft) ratings started to fly around, agents started calling, and that’s when I knew this is a great opportunity for me not only for the present, but for my future,” noted Church. “The whole experience of going through the draft, and then coming back for my final year of junior, where I had not only personal success, but the group was successful as well, was memorable.” The Prince Albert Raiders were a loaded team in Church’s final two seasons with the likes of future No. 1 overall draft pick Chris Phillips, Shane Willis, Shane Hnidy, and later Roman Vopat and Curtis Brown. The Brandon Wheat Kings, though, countered with stars of their own, such as Bryan McCabe, Peter Schaefer, (former MJHL all-star/St. Boniface Saint, Cory Cyrenne, Wade Redden and (former St. Boniface Saints’ forward) Mike LeClerc. These two teams met in two epic Eastern Division finals. Unfortunately for Church and the Raiders, the Wheat Kings seemed to have their number. “We had a seven game series against Brandon the first year in the (East) final, and I remember Game 6 in Prince Albert was televised on TSN, and after we won we had to jump on a bus to play a couple of nights later in Brandon, and the TSN trucks were following us to Brandon, and they were changing their programming to televise Game 7. TSN aired many junior games that year as the NHL lockout left a gaping hole on their network. “The next year, it was another battle between Prince Albert and Brandon,” noted Church. “I remember they loaded up and the deadline and so did we, so both teams were loaded – we just couldn’t get over the hump. The Wheat Kings will always be my nemesis that prevented me from playing for the Memorial Cup.” Off the ice, Church said he learned a lot living away from home for the first time, and credits the Raiders’ organization and his billet family for helping him in that regard. Following his junior career, Church embarked on a 10-year professional journey that saw him play all over North America. He initially began with the AHL’s Portland Pirates in Maine, who at the time were the affiliate of the Capitals. Those early professional days with the Pirates would end up paying huge dividends down the road for Church. He would play the majority of his hockey at the AHL level, but would also play some at the ECHL and even a pair of games with the Washington Capitals. Early on, Church said the biggest adjustment might have been what happened off the ice. Living on his own, earning a paycheque, Church said grew up quickly while playing professional hockey. “After my last year in Prince Albert I went to the Washington Capitals camp and was assigned to Portland, Maine, and to me, coming from Dauphin, Manitoba, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – Portland wasn’t a huge city, but to me it felt like New York,” said Church. “I came in as a 19-year-old, and learned quick that you’re on your own – you have to find your own place to live, setting up utilities – you grow up really quick.” On the ice, Church joined a Pirates team that had recently won the Calder Cup and was loaded with future NHLers, including Anson Carter, Richard Zednik, and Andrew Brunette. “I came into a market that had seen a lot of success, you were well-known in the community,” said Church. “And Barry Trotz was my first head coach, and then Bryan Trottier, and then Glen Hanlon, so I got to play for some guys who had been around the game for a long time. “And Trotz is just an outstanding coach in the NHL and a real leader. I was privileged to play under him.” Perhaps more important, Church would meet his future wife Kristin. And after playing in places such as Cleveland, Manchester, Hamilton and more, Church finally wound up his playing career after the 2005-06 season. “People sometimes ask me if I could do it differently, and play more than two games in the NHL, would I?” said Church. “Do you wish things had gone differently? Sure, who wouldn’t want a long career in the NHL. But all the things that happened to me in my career, the people I met, and having my wife and kids, that wouldn’t have happened if things had not gone the way they had.” After his playing days were over, Church transitioned into the coaching ranks, where he quickly became the head coach of the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL. “That happened pretty quick, when a general manager I used to play for asked me to be an assistant coach in Phoenix, so the family and I moved out west,” he said. “We were owned by the Phoenix Suns, and it was a beautiful city to live in. On the ice, things didn’t go well for us, and I quickly took over as head coach, which happened a lot quicker than I had expected. “But it was a great learning experience,” he added. “The on-ice coaching is only one part of your job at that level. There’s also recruiting, setting up housing, immigration, travel – there is so much about being in charge of as a head coach and director of hockey operations at the ECHL level.” Church stood behind the bench in Phoenix from 2006-2009, and while at times he said it was a grind, he also said he learned a lot about how to operate a professional hockey team – both on and off the ice. The franchise eventually folded when the economy soured, so the Church family had a decision to make. After applying for a few other coaching jobs, they eventually made the decision to move back to Portland. “We asked ourselves ‘where is our future?’ – out west in Phoenix or back east closer to family,” said Church. “We both made the decision to be closer to family, so we packed up and made the 48-hour drive back to Maine.” Church said while looking into some scouting opportunities, he met a man by the name of Ron Cain while signing his son up for minor hockey back in Portland. “He owned the rink, and he remembered me from my playing days here in Portland,” said Church. “So we met for coffee and chatted about what I was doing these days. “We really hit it off, and Ron gave me the opportunity to come in and coach a Tier 3 junior team at the rink he owned.” That ended up being step one in Church’s ascent to his current position as the COO with the Pirates. “Through Ron’s company I started as a coach, then took over as the GM for the facility. Then he moved me into his company Legacy Global Sports, where I became vice-president and began to learn so much about aspects of business – I spent time in finance, in HR, and in organizational development.” Church said it was much like his experience in Phoenix, where he was given an opportunity to learn, and he made the most of it. “Then a couple of years ago, Ron took majority ownership of the Portland Pirates, and when he did that, he made some changes to the operational structure of the team, and made me the COO,” said Church. “So everything I had learned from Phoenix, to working for Ron, prepared me for this job, so when he offered the position to me, I knew I was ready.” It’s been 20 years since Church left Dauphin to pursue his dream. That dream he was chasing when he left home as as 17 year old didn’t end up being a life in the NHL, but the one he’s living now, where he’s married with four children, excelling in a high profile front-office job with an NHL affiliate. Church loves where life has take him, while fondly remembering his roots. He loves that he got to grow up in Dauphin, and enjoys his opportunities to come back for visits and catch up with family and friends. He knows he’s missed a lot back in Dauphin during his journey from rink to rink across North America – things like nieces and nephews being born – but he knows it was a journey worth taking.  

Herbsigwil Successfully Harvests Pistons Crop

Year number two on the fields of southeastern Manitoba has turned into another positive fundraising venture for the Steinbach Pistons. The Pistons harvested their second crop last month with the help of Henervic Farms, MazerGroup Ltd, Southeast Seeds, Mark Hutlet Seeds, Adama, Sengenta and the leadership and guidance of Herbsigwil Farms who were the lead hand on this year’s project. “This year started out very promising with an early dry seeding date,” said Scott Peters of Herbsigwil. “Soon after we had large amounts of rain and a solid dose of hail. Just for good measure we had cutworm issues aswell.” This is almost exactly what happened last year, except last year’s field experienced excess moisture instead of hail. And just like last year, the field managed to come back to life in the later stages of the growing season. In terms of a good crop, this year wasn’t quite there, mustering up only 23.5 bushels per/acre. For those non-farmers, 35-to-40 bushels is good and 50+ is great! Since the field suffered major hail damage early in the season the Pistons wre able to claim money back on their hail insurance. The crop cheque combined with the hail insurance kick-back and sponsorship money from Herbsigwil Farms, Henvervic Farms, MazerGroup LTD, Southeast Seeds, Mark Hutlet Seeds, Adama and Sengentta has helped the Pistons reach new fundraising heights. The generousity of all the crop program’s supporters has helped the team net over $30,000 on 120 acres of land.    “It’s a great way to give back to the community,” commented Peters, who is also one of the Pistons 38 community owners. “We all like to see a high level of hockey close to home as well as a successful team. It takes volunteers and money and time to have success in the MJHL. We try and do our part to contribute.” The Pistons are already planning next year’s crop with Henervic Farms stepping up to lead the program for the second time in three years. And the plan is to plant corn for the first time after seeding soybeans the first two years.     

MJHL welcomes CLAC as a Major Corporate Partner

The MJHL is pleased to welcome CLAC as a Major corporate partner. “CLAC has a proven track record of providing Manitoba workers with quality, professional union representation,” says Geoff Dueck Thiessen, CLAC regional director. “We help build strong workplace communities for workers and their families. We also support the communities where our members live and work, which is why we are pleased to be working with the MJHL.” Kim Davis, MJHL Commissioner, says the addition of CLAC as an MJHL Partner is a win-win-win for everyone. “As an MJHL corporate partner, CLAC benefits from our outstanding audience reach for advertising and messaging as well as strong community relations benefits,” said Davis. “And each MJHL team receives much-needed revenue which helps us continue to deliver great Junior ‘A’ hockey action in 11 Manitoba communities.”

MJHL encourages fans to visit Pettinger ‘Go-Fund-Me’ page

Hockey fans throughout Canada are being encouraged to visit the ‘Go-Fund-Me’ page for injured Portage Terriers’ defenceman Braden Pettinger.  Fans can make a contribution and read updates by going to: https://www.gofundme.com/77ag2dq4  Pettinger, 20, suffered paralysis following a fall into the boards last week. He fractured his C5 vertebra in his neck in several places, a statement from the family reported.  “It’s a terrible injury and now we can all show our support for Braden and his family by assisting financially,” MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis said. “The hockey community is very tight knit. Fans are passionate and giving. Braden and his family would appreciate all help.”  Numerous news outlets have reported that surgeons at Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre repaired Braden’s vertebrae, but currently he’s paralyzed from the chest down.  Davis said the league has notified the Terriers that there will be resources available for any player who needs assistance dealing with what they witnessed. 

Penticton to host 2017 Crescent Point Energy WCC

The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has approved the Penticton Vees’ and the city of Penticton’s bid to host the 2017 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup (WCC) at the South Okanagan Events Centre.   The Vees had earlier been approved by the BCHL as the winning bidders for the event. This latest news officially clears the way for the Vees and Penticton to prepare to host the best teams from the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) to see who will qualify for the 2017 RBC Cup. “Penticton's track record on and off the ice speaks for itself as one of the most successful franchises across the CJHL and is certainly well-deserving of the opportunity to host one of Canada's premier junior events," said CJHL President Kirk Lamb.  "The strength of the Vees organization and the BCHL, combined with the community and region's enthusiasm for junior hockey, will ensure that the 2017 event will be one of the best ever." The return of the WCC to B.C. marks the start of the second cycle through each of the four leagues as host of the event. Nanaimo hosted the inaugural WCC in 2013, followed by Dauphin, Man. in 2014 and Fort McMurray, Alta. this past April and May. The 2016 WCC will be hosted by Estevan, Sask. The Vees are the current defending WCC champions and are so far doing their best to get back and represent the BCHL again as they are on a 19-game win streak and rated No. 1 in Canada. While no team has won back-to-back WCC titles, Penticton would love to be the first with an eye on a three-peat in 2017 on home ice.   “My plan was to raise the overall business operation of our organization and to target bringing the 2017 WCC to Penticton," said Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson. “This is an exciting time for our returning players, staff, ownership and the South Okanagan Events Centre.   “The entire city of Penticton along with our faithful fans will benefit from this marquee championship.”   With the WCC starting its second tour of Western Canada, the BCHL and Penticton have a unique opportunity to further solidify the tournament as a highlight on the hockey calendar.   “The Vees have become a brand name in Junior A hockey in our country and have an ideal venue to host the WCC in the South Okanagan Events Centre,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “We look forward to supporting them in the process of hosting and know they’ll do a first-rate job.”   The 2017 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Penticton is currently set to run from April 28 to May 7, 2017.  

Terrier’s Park No. 1 Star in CJHL Gongshow Awards

The outstanding play of Portage Terriers’ goaltender Nathan Park has earned him the Gongshow CJHL first-star award. This honour comes on the heels of Park recently being named the MJHL/MGEU Goaltender of the Month in October. Park, 20, could easily be nicknamed Mr. Perfect during October,  reflected in a perfect 12-0 record; with an almost perfect GAA of 0.99 and heady save percentage of .953.  A native of Edmonton, Park was perfect in five games, posting shutout victories. “It’s always nice when you have a strong team in front of you,” Park recently told MJHL web correspondent Derek Holtom. “Most nights my job is pretty easy, as my team does a good job of eliminating a lot of the Grade A scoring opportunities.  I just have to play solid and make that first save – I credit my team for the start.”   2nd STAR – SCOTT CONWAY, F, Penticton Vees, BCHL (12 GP, 11 G, 15 A, 26  PTS, 2.2 PPG) Scott Conway of the Penticton Vees is the BCHL Player of the Month for October 2015. Conway posted 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points as the Vees went 12-0 for the month. The native of Basingstoke, England had at  least one point in each October game and was named a game star on four occasions. He had five game-winning goals and had five games where he registered three points. The 6-foot, 190-pound forward is on an 18-game  point streak and has been held off the scoresheet just once this season.   *3rd STAR – LUCAS BATT, F, **Carleton Place Canadians**, CCHL (**10 GP, 9  G, 14 A, 23 PTS, 2.3 PPG)*   The Player of the Month for CCHL is Canadians forward Lucas Batt. Batt amassed 23 (9G, 14A) points in 10 games helping the Canadians to an 8-2 record for October. The Canadians forward earned (5) game stars for the month of October.  The Lewisporte, NL native currently leads the league in scoring with 42 (17G, 25A) points in 24 games and was selected to represent the Robinson division in the upcoming Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge  (ECCASC).   About the Gongshow CJHL 3 Stars of the Month – *The Gongshow CJHL 3 Stars of the Month is one of the league’s national awards created to recognize  Junior A hockey's best players and coaches.  Each star of the month will receive a gift from Gongshow Gear as well as an award courtesy of Jostens  Canada the Official Ring and Award Supplier of the CJHL.   *About the CJHL* – The Canadian Junior Hockey League is a national organization comprised of all 10 Junior A hockey leagues in Canada. The  CJHL represents more than 131 teams and 2,900 players and has over 2,900 alumni furthering their hockey careers at the professional, major junior  and college levels across North America.  

Piston’s Equipment Manager Kosmolak Reaching New Heights

The Steinbach Pistons want to congratulate their equipment manager Riley Kosmolak on his two silver medals with Team Manitoba over the past two weeks. Kosmolak has had the time of his life working together with Hockey Manitoba at the Men’s U16 Western Championships in Calgary and then most recently at the Women’s U18 Championships in Huntsville, Ontario. “These last two weeks have been awesome,” said the 18 year-old Kosmolak. “I don’t have one overall highlight that shines over all the others. I enjoyed the whole trip to Calgary and Huntsville, and making it to the championship game in both tournaments.” Over the past two weeks Riley spent time doing equipment manager duties; sharpening skates, cleaning the dressing room, doing laundry and anything else that the team needed behind the scenes. His experience all started when the Pistons reached out to the community looking for someone to help around the room at the start of their 2012/2013 season. At that time, Kosmolak was only 15 years-old, and he jumped at the opportunity. His role started as a dressing room attendant, but that quickly grew as the Pistons saw his work ethic and dedication. The recent Steinbach Regional Secondary School graduate still fills water bottles, but now sharpens skates, keeps the dressing aligned, manages the team’s equipment and stick inventory, plus many other miscellaneous tasks associated with the role. “The Pistons helped me get to this point in my career by allowing me to expand from the team’s dressing room attendant my first year, to start doing the equipment side of things the following year,” he said. “Also, Paul [Dyck] has passed my name to Craig Heisinger of the Winnipeg Jets, which has led me to getting to participate and experience an NHL training camp.” The saying hard work pays off is evident in Kosmolak’s story as his countless hours of volunteerism are helping him reach new heights. The Pistons organizations want to again congratulate Riley and thank him for all the service he does on a regular basis.    

Q & A with Logan Harland, OCN Blizzard

Logan Harland, 20, of the OCN Blizzard is having an excellent season to date. He hails from Frenchman Butte, Sk, via Saskatoon. He kindly took a few minutes to tell us a little bit about himself. If you have a favourite player whose Q&A you would like to read contact us at: media@mjhlhockey.ca Q: Who had the biggest influence on you as a person? A: My parents   Q: Where is Frenchman Butte? A: An hour NorthEast of Lloydminster   Q: Other than Logan Harland, who is the second most famous person from Frenchman Butte? A: John Rogers played for the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota North Stars.   Q: Tell us one thing that fans wouldn’t know about you? A: Terrified of the Dentist   Q: Favourite meal? A: My grandma’s home-made stew   Q: Last movie you watched? A: Goon   Q: Favourite NHL player? A: Jonathan Toews   Q: Favourite NHL team? A: Anaheim Ducks   Q: How do you pass the time on the bus? A: Play games on my iPhone or sleep   Q: Best-dressed player on the Blizzard? A: Devin Muir   Q: Any one special hockey moment stick out the most? A: Being a part of the Memorial Cup   Q: If you could pick anyone, who would you like to have lunch with? A: Devin Muir   Q: Other than OCN, which MJHL rink is rockin’ with atmosphere? A: Winkler wasn’t too bad   Q: Any superstitions? A: I don’t have any   Q: Which actor would play you in the “Logan Harland” movie? A: Leonardo   Q: Favourite actress? A: Gabriella Wilde   Q: Other than hockey, any hobbies? A: Longboarding, dirt biking, badminton, Netflix   Q: On a musical level – Country music? Rock? Easy listening? Rap? A: Jake Owen all day!   Q: Favourite non-hockey athlete? A: Mike Tyson   Q: Plans when your junior hockey career is over? A: Guess, I’ll decide that when the time comes

MJHL mourns the passing of Wayne Hawrysh

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is saddened to report the recent passing (October 31) of Mr. Wayne Hawrysh. Wayne was a dedicated and committed member of the league for many years and made his greatest contribution to Junior hockey with the OCN Blizzard. The league passes its heartfelt condolences to Wayne’s wife Nancy and their family.   Below is a piece written by the OCN Blizzard for a recent ceremony by the club where they recognized the contributions of Wayne Hawrysh.   Wayne began his career in Hockey as a young boy living in Dauphin Manitoba, where he found his love for the sport alongside his father, Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh, a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.   Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings round #3 Amateur Draft in 1969, Wayne played in five leagues over the course of his career, American Hockey League, Eastern Hockey League, North American Hockey League, Southern Hockey League & Western Hockey league.   Wayne began his coaching career back home in Dauphin where he served as Dauphin Kings assistant coach in the 74 /75 season and Head coach in 75/76.  Wayne then moved to The Pas where he brought his love for the sport and dedicated his desire to inspire youth in hockey.   In the Spring of 1996 the community of OCN secured a franchise in the MJHL and from there it all began.  It was an awesome team and a great board of directors.  They used to call Wayne “Mr Everything” as he was the assistant coach, governor and director of hockey operations.  He held those positions for the first 3 years and then continued to help out as assistant coach for most of the next 15 years.  His last winter was 2012-13 when he came home from Texas to help Clay and Derek.   Wayne and Nancy loved to make the players feel at home – whether billeting players like Brian MacIntosh and Tobias Hall over the years or holding Blizzard Christmas dinners for the players at their cabin.  Wayne loved to talk Blizzard hockey and is connected with many of the past OCN Blizzard Players.   Through the years, Wayne was a leader at every level, holding many positions and helped maintain the structure of the club. Whether in the boardroom as Director of Player Personnel, a Coach,  Manager, Marketing or Trainer – Wayne knew what it would take to put the OCN Blizzard ‘On the Map’ in the world of Canadian Junior hockey.  No one can deny that Wayne provided the expertise and backbone needed to foster a successful team.   Wayne has been a devoted ambassador for the OCN Blizzard and to Junior Hockey in our region and the Province overall; he has truly demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship both on and off the ice, and through his continued dedication and commitment to the sport and the organization he has held in high regard, the ideals of a true sportsman and all around great citizenship to the community and the hockey world at large.  The youth program in Hockey would not be what it is today for those involved in minor hockey in northern Manitoba without his vision and commitment to the sport.   Wayne has supported the OCN Blizzard Hockey organization and has worked hard through the years, it is his dedication and loyalty to the team that gives us great honor to name this award the “Wayne Hawrysh Award of Dedication”.   The goal of the “Wayne Hawrysh Award of Dedication” is to develop, recognize and reward exemplary character and sportsmanship demonstrated by our members and players involved in the Blizzard Organization. Deserving candidates are selected based on a number of factors that demonstrate “character”, many of the characteristics we look up to with Wayne, including: positive attitude, outstanding sportsmanship, excellent work ethic, unselfish team dedication, respect & responsibility, exemplary citizenship, and, overall, a great role model for our sport in northern Manitoba.   The Wayne Hawrysh Award of Dedication will be awarded to the individual who consistently exemplifies these qualities and has done so within the framework of the Manitoba Junior Hockey league. The recipient of this Award may be a volunteer, a member of the OCN Blizzard organization, a community member or player who, through their commitment and dedication to the Team, the community and the region, does what it takes to ensure the success of the Blizzard Hockey organization and has put in many countless hours of work and displaying professionalism to promote the organization positively.   The recipient of the Award will be named annually at the OCN Blizzard Awards Ceremony.   Thank you Wayne for all of your support in the last 20 years!

Steinbach Pistons’ Martin named MJHL Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of Month

A tireless volunteer in his community, Connor Martin of the Steinbach Pistons has been has been named the MJHL Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month of October. Martin, 20, recently participated in the inaugural RCMP-MJHL community initiative at Stoneybrook Middle School where he spoke to students about making positive life choices. His presentation focused on emotional wellness and managing stress.   Martin, who hails from Owatonna, Mn., has enthusiastically embraced his hockey community. He also mentors a middle-school student through the Recreational Opportunities for Children program, and regularly volunteers at Stonybrook. “Connor epitomizes what the MJHL is all about: community involvement, making a difference and showcasing his hockey talents,” said MHL Commissioner Kim Davis. “Congratulations on behalf of the Manitoba Pork Council and the MJHL.” When not busy patrolling the Pistons’ blueline, Martin also finds time to work with the Steinbach Millers Bantam AA hockey team where he assists with practices each week. The Ste. Anne Co-Op sponsors Connor's community activities and he can be found pumping gas, visiting schools and voicing public service messages on behalf of the company.  

Terriers’ Park Lights Out in Net

Nathan Park of the Portage Terriers is making the most of a second chance. Two years ago he was with the Selkirk Steelers and a knee injury put the brakes on his MJHL career. Fast forward to 2015-16. His current one run with the Portage Terriers is positively lights out. He’s currently the top goaltender in the MJHL heading into November, and he has the stats to prove it. The Edmonton native is a perfect 13-0 for the Terriers this year, with a 0.99 GAA, a .953 save percentage, and a flawless five shutouts. The modest netminder credits a strong Terriers line up for helping him to his hot start. “It’s always nice when you have a strong team in front of you,” said Park. “Most nights my job is pretty easy, as my team does a good job of eliminating a lot of the Grade A scoring opportunities. “I just have to play solid and make that first save – I credit my team for the start.” Park joined the Terriers via the Fort Frances Lakers last year, where he posted an impressive 1.93 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Before that, Park was a member of the Selkirk Steelers, where he played 16 games in 2013-14, where he also had solid numbers in goal (a 1.53 GAA and a .940 save percentage). His moves might be considered surprising given how he’s excelled, but fate dealt Park a tough hand, which led to his playing in Ontario after a solid year with the Steelers. “My first year in Selkirk, I didn’t play my first game until November as I was recovering from knee surgery,” he said. “We had a good team that year, but unfortunately we didn’t get that long run in the playoffs that we wanted. “So I came in the next year and hoped to be the starter, but a couple of games in I hurt my other knee, and I was out for a couple of months.” In the meantime the Steelers had a hole in goal to fill, and so when Park was healed up and ready to return, the Steelers made the decision to release Park as they couldn’t keep three netminders in camp. “They had two local guys and I had not played for a while,” said Park, who ended up in Fort Frances in part because they were hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup, ensuring he would get a nice long playoff run. Park had the benefit of playing his minor hockey in the ‘City of Champions’, and when he started his junior career with the Spruce Grove Saints, he got some top-notch guidance from goaltender coach Dustin Schwartz, who is now a goalie coach with the Edmonton Oilers. “He helped me make the transition to junior,” he said. “When I started in junior I really couldn’t find my stride, but when I was traded to Selkirk, I was really able to implement what he showing me. I wouldn’t be here if not for (Schwartz).” Park has been accepted into a post-secondary school back home, and so he knows after this year he’ll be able to pursue an education. That’s the back up plan. Park would like to earn a scholarship and play NCAA hockey, but given his two knee surgeries, he knows he’ll have to prove he can play at a high level despite his previous injuries. “Because of the two knee surgeries, it’s a bit of a battle to maintain my body, and I have to stretch every day just to make sure I can handle the workload,” said Park. “I want to play NCAA hockey, but it will depend on a lot of factors, like who comes knocking, and how my body is feeling.”  

Portage Terriers’ Bowles named RBC Player of Month

Brad Bowles of the Portage Terriers has been named the RBC Player of the Month for October. The 20-year-old forward from Elkhorn recorded 27 points (14-13) in 15 games for the defending RBC Cup champion Terriers. The runners up are 20 year old forward Logan Harland of the OCN Blizzard and 20 year old forward Kamerin Nault of the Winnipeg Blues. Sher-Wood Hockey Defenseman of the Month Zak Hicks of the Winkler Flyers has been named to blueliner for October. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he excelled both defensively and offensively, reflected in 15 points (7-8) in 16 games. Hicks, who hails from Boissevain, has also been particularly potent on the powerplay, reflected in four goals via the man advantage. The runners up are 18 year old James Shearer of the Steinbach Pistons and 19 year old Zach Whitecloud of the Virden Oil Capitals. MGEU Goaltender of the Month Call him Mr. Perfect. Portage Terriers Nathan Park has been unbeatable for the first month of the season. The native of Edmonton sports an unblemished 12-0 record, with a spectacular 0.99 GAA and save percentage of .953. Park, 20, also has five shutouts to date for the Terriers, who sit atop the MJHL standings. The runners up are 19 year old Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons and 20 year old Sean Kuehn of the Virden Oil Capitals. IBAM Rookie of the Month Matthew Greening of the Dauphin Kings has shown he’s made a quick adjustment to the MJHL. The rookie, who hails from Dauphin, recorded 14 points (4-10) in 13 games. The runners up are 16 year old forward Nick Henry of the Portage Terriers and 18 year old forward Mackenzie Graham of the Steinbach Pistons.

Blizzard support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The OCN Blizzard will be wearing special, pink jerseys in their game tonight (Oct. 26) against Swan Valley Stamps. The game-worn jerseys will then be auctioned off: minimum bid $125. For more information click here.

Pistons Getting Pink for Cancer

The colour pink will be taking over the T.G. Smith Centre on Wednesday, October 28th. The Steinbach Pistons along with Sunrise Group are proudly presenting the annual ‘Pink in the Rink’ event in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Pistons will once again wear pink jerseys, which will then be auctioned off during the game. Once buzzer sounds to end the game, the jerseys will be awarded to the highest bidder. Fans who may not have the funds to outbid the competition for a jersey can still get involved to support the cause. The Pistons will be selling pink Pistons stickers at the door for a donation. The Pistons are encouraging fans to suit up in pink and then get ready to cheer as the Steinbach hosts the Portage Terriers for the first time since they raised the Turnbull Trophy in Steinbach during last season’s championship series. The bidding on your favorite pink Pistons jerseys begins at noon on Thursday October 22nd at steinbachpistons.ca A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

OCN trio off to a great start

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent Is there a more electrifying line in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League right now than the combination of Logan Harland, Devin Muir and Jeremy Dumont of the OCN Blizzard? After an explosive mid-October stretch, the trio held down three of the top four spots in the league scoring, led by Harland with his eight goals and 15 assists.  Muir was one point back with 22 point, while Dumont (Recycle Player of the Week) had 21 points. The early offensive domination is reminiscent of the early 2000’s, when it was expected to see plenty of Blizzard players jockeying for positions among the leaders in league scoring. The success was not unexpected to head coach Jason Smith, who said the trio is quite adaptable when on the ice together. “I think they’re the hardest-working line in the league – in fact I know they are,” said Smith. “They have a little bit of everything – they have grit, they have skill, and they can all shoot the puck. “At first, it’s a tricky thing to put together a line, but when you put skilled guys together, they’re going to find each other on the ice,” he added. Harland, who hails from Saskatoon, Sask., (via Frenchman Butte, Sask.) comes to the Blizzard after playing for several junior teams across Canada – including the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants. In his final year of junior Harland was hoping make an impact, and early on, that’s exactly what he’s been able to do. “I didn’t know what to expect with this being a new league for me, as I’ve never played in this part of Canada before, but I was really impressed with the tempo of the league and my team,” said Harland. “And I owe all my success to my line mates – we’ve all had chemistry from the start, and it just seems to be getting better.” Harland’s roots are in Saskatchewan, while Muir calls Oak Bluff, Man., home. The third piece to this puzzle, Dumont, calls Val d’or, Que., home. Three players from three different provinces – so the question has to be asked, do they communicate well on the ice? That would be a resounding yes, according to Harland. “We seem to be able to communicate, and we’re always talking on and off the ice, about new things we can try, and it’s been successful so far,” he said. The offensive punch this trio provides has helped the Blizzard climb out of the bottom half of the standings. Harland said he doesn’t know much about the recent history of the Blizzard when there were not contenders for a league title, but says this is a new season and that this team craves success. “We have a special team this year,” he said. “I know that new guys were brought in, and the changes that were made have been to win. I think we can do well, and that this will be a successful season.” Harland added he has goals for hockey down the road, but for now, his goal is to help the Blizzard win a championship.    

OCN’s Dumont named MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week

OCN Blizzard forward Jeremy Dumont has been named this week’s MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week. Dumont, 19, exploded for 11 points (2-9) in four games played last week. He currently sits fourth in league scoring with 21 points ─ two points back of teammate Logan Harland, who leads the league with 23 points. The runners up are 20 year old forward Kamerin Nault of the Winnipeg Blues and 20 year old goaltender Nathan Park of the Portage Terriers.

2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup

Estevan Saskatchewan – October 13th 2015 On Tuesday October 13th the Host committee of the 2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), held its official kick off to the tournament. All games will be played at the Affinity Place Arena in Estevan Saskatchewan. The tournament will run from April 30th thru May 8th 2016. "We are getting ready for the 2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup," stated Chris Lewgood, GM/Head Coach, of the host Estevan Bruins.  "Affinity Place is new, it has to be one of the crown jewels for Junior A hockey.  The committees and volunteers are coming together and will ensure all the details are covered to ensure a successful tournament."  "This is the first major event to be hosted in Estevan with Affinity Place opening its doors in the falls of 2011." To help the host committee make the official announcement of the tournament , all four League Commissioners and Presidents were in attendance; SJHL President Bill Chow, MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis, AJHL Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk, BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale.   Chairman & President of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, Kirk Lamb stated "Estevan and the SJHL have a long and storied history in junior hockey and we are very confident that this history will serve the event and hosts well in staging a successful tournament on and off the ice," said CJHL President Kirk Lamb. "The fans of Estevan, of the SJHL, and of junior hockey in Western Canada are in for an exciting and competitive event as the best teams in the West vie for an opportunity to compete in the national championship." “The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is excited to have the Estevan Bruins host the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in the spring of 2016, said Bill Chow President of the SJHL.  This will be our opportunity to continue the progress of the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup that has been established previously in Nanaimo, Dauphin and Fort McMurray. The Estevan area is a great sporting community and by hosting this great event they will be able to display their great support for Junior A hockey.” The 2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup will see champions of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCHL), and Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) participate in a five-team tournament along with the host Estevan Bruins compete for the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup title. The Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup Champion and the runner-up will both represent Western Canada at the 2016 RBC Cup National Junior A Championship. Upon release of the tournament schedule and event information can be found at westerncanadacup.com and on Twitter @CJHL_WCC.   For further information contact: Bill Chow President of the SJHL bchow.sjhl@sasktel.net   306-961-4554 Kim Davis Commissioner of the MJHL commissioner@mjhlhockey.ca 204-925-5644 Ryan Bartoshyk Commissioner of the AJHL commissioner@ajhl.ca 403-995-9609 John Grisdale Commissioner of the BCHL jgrisdale@bchl.ca  604-291-6530  

Terriers’ Bowles draws CJHL honours

 CALGARY, Alberta (October 13, 2015) – The CJHL 3 Stars for the month of September 2015 are Hunter Atchison (Cochrane Crunch, NOJHL), Daniel Urbani (Trenton Golden Hawks, OJHL) and Brad Bowles (Portage Terriers, MJHL).   1st STAR – HUNTER ATCHISON, F, Cochrane Crunch, NOJHL (6 GP, 8 G, 13 A, 23 PTS, 3.5 PPG)   In six games in September, the 18-year-old Victoria, B.C. native had points in all of them pacing the NOJHL in offensive production amassing 21 points on eight goals and 13 assists.  All but one of his outings were multi-point contests with two of his tallies being game-winners.   He also supplied a league-leading three shorthanded efforts and a trio of power play markers.  Atchison currently leads all NOJHL skaters in scoring with 27 points in total with 11 tallies and 16 helpers to his credit for Cochrane.   2nd STAR – DANIEL URBANI, G, Trenton Golden Hawks, OJHL (7 GP, 7 W, 0 L, 1.86 GAA, .919 SV%) Trenton Golden Hawks netminder Daniel Urbani is leading the OJHL with seven victories to open the 2015-16 season. Standing at 6'2", he reeled off seven consecutive victories to go undefeated in September as Trenton jumped out to the early lead in the East Division standings.  With four all-important divisional wins, Urbani never allowed more than three goals in a single game, while allowing just a single goal during three contests to post a 1.86 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.   A native of Coquitlam, B.C., Urbani was selected by the Vancouver Giants in the 11th round, 233rd overall, of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft from the North Shore Bantam organization.     3rd STAR – BRAD BOWLES, F, Portage Terriers, MJHL (6 GP, 9 G, 4 A, 13 PTS, 2.2 PPG)           The MJHL nominee is Brad Bowles of the RBC Cup champion Portage Terriers. Bowles, a power forward, was a key member of the Terriers during their national championship run.  A native of Elkhorn, Mb., Bowles is off to a blazing start this season, reflected in nine goals and 13 points in his first six games: five wins for the Terriers.  Bowles, 20, scored three powerplay goals during his 13-point run.   Honourable Mentions: Blaize Bridges, Summerside Western Capitals (MHL), Jordan Larson, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL), Kris Spriggs, Nipawin Hawks (SJHL), Tommy Lapierre, Sainte-Agathe Montagnards (QJHL) About the Gongshow CJHL 3 Stars of the Month – The Gongshow CJHL 3 Stars of the Month is one of the league’s national awards created to recognize Junior A hockey's best players and coaches.  Each star of the month will receive a gift from Gongshow Gear as well as an award courtesy of Jostens Canada the Official Ring and Award Supplier of the CJHL.

Steelers’ Kraus named MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week

Selkirk Steelers’ veteran forward Ty Kraus has been named this week’s MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week. Kraus, who hails from East St. Paul, MB, collected 10 points (5-5) for the Steelers, who have 4 wins in seven starts. The runners up are 20 year old forward Tyler Penner of the Steinbach Pistons and 18 year old forward Matthew Greening of the Dauphin Kings.

Terriers’ Brad Bowles named MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week

Portage Terriers’ veteran forward Brad Bowles is off to a great start this season, earning him first week honours as MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week. Bowles, a key member of last year’s RBC Cup champion Terriers, has tallied 13 points (9-4) in his first six games this season. The native of Elkhorn has been a key contributor for the Terriers, who have won five of their first six games this season. The runners up are 20 year old forward Denis Bosc of the Steinbach Pistons and 20 year old goaltender Sean Kuehn of the Virden oil Capitals.

Q & A with Kings’ Marlin Murray

Marlin Murray is well known to MJHL fans as the General Manager/Head Coach of the Dauphin Kings. On the ice, his Kings have accomplished an impressive list of credits: RBC Cup finalist, winner of the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, a Turnbull Trophy championship, and perennially a top contender in the MJHL.  While fans are familiar with Murray behind the bench, he’s much, much more than a hockey coach. He very kindly agreed to answer a number of questions which gives you an up close and personal look into Marlin Murray the person.   Q: Who had the biggest influence on you as a person, and coach?  A: All my coaches when I played. Dwayne Kirkup(AAA) Bruce Thompson (Junior) and Tom Skinner (CIS). Away from the ice, my wife and my daughter influence me daily.  Q: If not a hockey coach, what would you be doing? A: I had an interest in becoming a police officer or school teacher and lastly, maybe a chef!   Q: What’s the best part of coaching the Dauphin Kings?  A: Being a part of a TEAM that cares, and seeing individuals grow as a person under our guidance.  Q: Tell us one thing that fans wouldn’t know about you?  A: I’m shy.   Q: Favourite meal? A: My wife is a great cook.  So there are many options. I would have to say the combination of BBQ steak and hash brown casserole.  Q: Last movie you watched?  A: Took my daughter to her first theatre movie few weeks back, so Minions it is!!   Q: You played for the Brandon University hockey team. What type of player were you?  A: I would say a two-way forward who competed hard.    Q: Do you pattern your coaching style after anyone?   A: I watch a lot of NHL on TV. I try and learn weekly from it.  I love the way Joel Quenneville handles himself. He’s very passionate for the game and his players. I’m also a fan of Winnipeg Jets’ coach Paul Maurice, and how he handles the media.   Q: Top 5 favourite alumni Kings you’ve coached?  A: Such a tough question because I care for all the players that went to war in front of me, and we've had some really good kids here. 1. Tyler Harder 2.Mitch Czibere 3.Brett Willows 4.Shane Luke 5.Brent Wold   Q: Pick 1 player in the NHL to build your team around?   A: Manitoba boy: Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks !   Q: Any one special hockey moment stick out the most?  A: Being down 4-0 in game 4 in the third period at home against the Winnipeg Saints in the 2010 MJHL championship and coming back and winning that game and hoisting at home.   Q: If you could pick anyone, who would you like to have a beer with?  A: Don Cherry   Q: Other than Dauphin, which MJHL rink is rockin' with atmosphere?  A: Virden usually puts on a good show.  Kings’ alumnus Lindsay Gullet did a heck of a job there!   Q: Any superstitions?  A: Yes. But,they are more like routines. When we go on a winning streak I stick to the same agenda on game day from the time I wake up in the morning. And I won't cross the path of a black cat.  Never!   Q: Which actor would play you in the “Marlin Murray” movie?  A: Can Russell Crowe skate?   Q: Favourite actress?  A: Charlize Theron   Q: Other than hockey, any hobbies?  A: The lake. I enjoy riding the Seadoo, being on the pontoon. I also enjoy golf and cooking.   Q: What’s changed the most in the MJHL since you first came into the league?  A: Couple of things. On the ice, there’s a lot less physicality in the game. Off the ice, social media.   Q: On a musical level, country music? Rock? Easy listening?  A: I love music.  All types, actually. But, country would be at top. Eric Church is really good.   Q: Favourite NHL team ?   A: Edmonton Oilers.   Q: Favourite non-hockey athlete?  A: Male – Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays. Female – Genie Bouchard, professional tennis player  

2016 CJHL Prospects Game Announcement

  CALGARY, Alberta (September 30, 2015) – The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), in partnership with Hockey Canada, NHL Central Scouting and the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), have announced that the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game will be hosted at the South Surrey Arena in Surrey, BC., on January 26, 2016.  The South Surrey Arena was built in 1991 and is the home of the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. The CJHL Prospects Game is one of the premier Junior A hockey events in the country and provides tremendous exposure for the top CJHL prospects to play in front of scouts from all over the hockey world – including the NHL, NCAA, CHL and Canadian universities and colleges. The event will consist of player testing as well as the 11th Annual CJHL Prospects Game. “We are extremely proud and excited to partner with the British Columbia Hockey League and the Surrey Eagles and are extremely thankful for the continued support of the NHL and NHL Central Scouting,” said Kirk Lamb, President of the CJHL. “The great fans in Surrey and the BCHL will see the top prospects from across the country competing in front of scouts from all over the hockey world, including the NHL, NCAA, CIS and CHL.” The rosters for the CJHL Prospects Game are chosen in partnership with NHL Central Scouting and are made up of players recommended by NHL Central Scouting.   Team East is comprised of prospects from the five eastern CJHL leagues, which includes the NOJHL, OJHL, CCHL, LHJQ and MHL, while Team West consists of prospects from the five western CJHL leagues, which includes the BCHL, AJHL, SJHL, MJHL and SIJHL. The winning team is awarded the President's Cup.  Since its inception in 2005, Team West has slight edge with six wins while Team East has won the cup four times.  Last year’s winner, Team West won a highly spirited and very competitive contest in dramatic fashion in overtime in Oakville, Ontario. "There is a great history of Junior A hockey in Surrry and with this being the 25th anniversary season of the Surrey Eagles, it's the perfect time for them to host a special event like the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game, said BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale.  For fans and scouts, I'm sure they'll be interested to see how the prospects handle the Olympic-sized ice surface at South Surrey Arena.  The Eagles organization has embraced the responsibility of staging this event so we eagerly anticipate it returning to our region."  Game and ticket information for the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game will be announced in the coming days.

Terrier D-man one of 19 CJHL players listed by Central Scouting

Portage Terriers’ Dean Stewart is one of 19 CJHL players who have been listed as potential draft choices in the 2016 NHL draft. The list was compiled by NHL Central Scouting. Stewart, who hails from Portage, is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed defenceman. Below is the complete list of CJHL Players: Betts Kyle Powell River Kings BCHL Cho Austin Vernon Vipers BCHL Cholowski Dennis Chilliwack Chiefs BCHL Fabbro Dante Penticton Vees BCHL Grannary Colin Merritt Centennials BCHL Jost Tyson Penticton Vees BCHL Olischefski Kohen Chilliwack Chiefs BCHL Westgard Ty Surrey Eagles BCHL Finlay Liam Vernon Vipers BCHL Cairns Matthew Georgetown Raiders OJHL Dunn Sam Cobourg Cougars OJHL Jeffers Jack Burlington Cougars OJHL Keenan Luke Whitby Fury OJHL Thom Matthew Georgetown Raiders OJHL Rattie Taden Whitecourt Wolverines AJHL Young Justin Whitecourt Wolverines AJHL Grant Owen Carleton Place Canadians CCHL Murray Brett Carleton Place Canadians CCHL Stewart Dean Portage Terriers MJHL  

Neepawa begins season on positive note

The first weekend of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League season is in the books, and there were a couple of surprises from the first three days of the season. Four teams won both of their opening games – Portage, Swan Valley, Winnipeg, and … Neepawa? Yes indeed, after the first weekend, the Natives were tied for first place. Portage and Winnipeg winning two straight isn’t that much of a shock, as both teams are expected to be competitive this year. Swan Valley had recently beat both OCN and Waywayseecappo in the preseason so earning wins against them to start the season was also not that much of a surprise. But Neepawa winning two straight? That might have caught some observers off guard. After all, this is a franchise that only won 15 games all of last year. Neepawa opened the season with a home-and-home against the Dauphin Kings, a team expected to make a move up the standings this year after a rebuilding effort last season. However, it was the Natives who won back-to-back 5-2 victories. In the season starter in Dauphin the Natives out-scored the Kings 3-0 in the third period despite being out-shot 17-5 to lock down the win. The next night in Neepawa, the Kings went up 2-0 very early in the second period, only for the Natives to score five unanswered goals for their second straight victory. Natives head coach Jim Fuyarchuk said his team earned the four points with old fashioned hard work. “To put it quite simply, our guys came to the rink focused on the job at hand, and I thought we worked extremely hard, and we played a simple game,” said Fuyarchuk. “In the second game, the guys had some nerves in our home opener and Dauphin came out strong, but I thought we came back hard, and played a really strong second and third period.” The Natives were one of many MJHL teams who lost a talented veteran (or veterans) to American-based junior leagues (in Neepawa’s case, Drake Lindsey). But Fuyarchuk – who joined the Natives this summer – didn’t come into this season lamenting this loss. Instead, he focused on the players at hand, a strategy that paid off early dividends. “I do know that we played pretty solid as a team,” he said. “With Drake’s overall talent, he probably would have helped us, but the fact is we played the game simple, played it hard, and as a team. “And as it’s been said before, if you have the talent, and they are willing to work extremely hard, you’re going to have success,” he added. “You may not have the level of talent as your opposition, but if you work hard and play well as a team, you can beat talent.” The Natives also won their opener in front of a large crowd in Neepawa – the announced attendance was 655. Fuyarchuk feels the win will hopefully be beneficial for the team, franchise and the community. “I think this was a huge win,” he said. “The wins have added confidence to the players, and it’s great playing in front of a big, supportive home crowd. “If we can continue to see those same sorts of crowds, or even to have them grow, it will be a huge plus for us.”

College scouts invited to Old Dutch MJHL Showcase Weekend

The upcoming Old Dutch MJHL Showcase Weekend ─ which kicks off October 1st at Winnipeg’s MTS IcePlex ─ will be well attended by college and NHL scouts, MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis announced today.   “The league has personally invited 60 NCAA Division I schools to our Showcase Weekend,” said Davis. “We’ll see scouts from a number of high-profile colleges, of note the University of North Dakota and University of Western Michigan. Based on the feedback received, we are expecting a solid turnout.”   Also expected to attend are scouts from several Division III schools, in addition to NHL teams, including Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Pittsburgh.   The Old Dutch MJHL Showcase Weekend kicks off Thursday, Oct. 1 at the MTS IcePlex with Wayway Wolverines taking on Selkirk Steelers. Games continue all day Friday and Saturday. The complete Showcase Weekend schedule can be found on the MJHL website. This is the 12th consecutive year for the Showcase Weekend. 

Pistons Beautifying the Community

The Steinbach Pistons aren’t only concerned about their success on the ice. The organization also takes pride in building up the community and they showed that first hand this past weekend.  The Pistons were invited by BSI Insurance/IBAM and Take Pride Winnipeg to paint a house on 464 Ash Avenue in Steinbach. There were 10 Pistons players alongside three BSI insurance employees who completed the project in approximately five hours.   Take Pride Winnipeg normally stays within the Perimeter Highway, but they ventured outside because their lead sponsor IBAM is a province-wide company. The project started at 9 AM and the second coat was wrapped up at around 1:30 PM.    This is the first of many projects/events where the Pistons will show first hand their appreciation back to the community for their overwhelming support.   Project ideas, events or volunteers opportunities are always considered by the team and can be sent to info@steinbachpistons.ca. Watch the You Tube video!

Country 88 Back as Your Voice of the Winkler Flyers

You can follow the Winkler FLyers on the road all season long with your "Voice of the Flyers" – Country 88FM and www.pembinavalleyonline.com. As the Flyers embark on their 35th Anniversary season, Matt Friesen is back for his 10th season calling Flyers' games on the radio. For nearly three decades, Golden West Radio has been your home for Winkler Flyers hockey. This season, all 29 regular season road games (not including MJHL Showcase) and all playoff games can be heard on crystal clear FM radio (88.9FM) in the Pembina Valley and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com. Click here for more information including the full Country 88 broadcast schedule. You can also watch live streaming video of all Winkler Flyers home and away games with a subscription to Fast Hockey.

Terriers’ Spiller reflects on last season while preparing for new season

The MJHL regular season opens on Friday (Sept. 25). Memories of last season include, the Portage Terriers ending a 40-year drought when they captured the RBC Cup – the national championship for junior A hockey – on home ice last May. The Terriers put together a season for the ages – only three regular season regulation losses, 53 regular season victories, an MJHL championship and of course the national title. Hosting an RBC Cup and actually winning the national title isn’t as easy as it sounds – the last team to do the trick was the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings back in 2005. Head Coach/General Manager Blake Spiller knew it wouldn’t be easy to win it all. And now, a few months later, he can look back at that championship run and talk about how things fell into place. “We gave ourselves a plan we tried to stick to,” said Spiller. “We wanted to recruit a core group of guys and then add some pieces as we went on. I think for the most part we were able to stick to what we wanted to do.” Spiller did say there were some transactions they looked at, but those didn’t work out. Hindsight being what it is, the Terriers were obviously successful even without those other deals being completed. And with 11 players with 40 or more points on their roster last year, they were as deep and balanced a team as has been iced in recent years in the MJHL. Spiller also mentioned they were a bit lucky on some nights, winning some games they maybe shouldn’t have. But over the course of a 60 game season, it was clear to anyone watching the MJHL that the Terriers were a team on a mission. “And we were able to stay healthy for the most part, which I think was a key for us,” noted Spiller. Of those 11 players with 40 or more points, the majority of them played in at least 55 of 60 regular season games, including leading scorer Zack Waldvogel, who played in all 60 games. And while the Terriers were aware of the 40-year national title drought in the MJHL, it certainly wasn’t their driving factor last season. “We knew what had happened in the past, but we just wanted to make sure we were as prepared as possible when the puck dropped at the RBC Cup,” noted Spiller. Click here to listen to Blake Spiller discuss the upcoming season with radio personality Jeff Dyck

Pistons Broadcasts Starting Friday

The Steinbach Pistons are pleased to announce that AM1250 Radio and SteinbachOnline.com have increased their partnership with the team. Pistons fans have had the luxury of getting play-by-play coverage 10 games prior and then throughout the playoffs the past few years. This year fans can expect to hear Dave Anthony call out 20 regular season games starting with the team’s home opener on Friday. “Having the opportunity to bring so much Pistons hockey to the passionate fan base is amazing,” replied Anthony, who will be going into his 2nd full season as the Pistons broadcaster. “Having the chance for players’ families and friends to hear them play hockey means a great deal.” If the Pistons’ preseason play (7-0) is any indication of what the newly assembled team will be able to accomplish, it sounds like Anthony will be relayi ng a mostly positive message to the Pistons faithful. “It’s going to be a terrific year in the MJHL and there will be a lot of meaningful games throughout the season with a lot of heated rivalries,” he said. “Can’t wait to get it all started.” AM1250 Radio and Steinbachonline.com have been broadcasting/streaming Pistons games every year since the team arrived in 2009.

Commissioner Davis discusses 2015-16 season which opens Sept. 25

On the eve of the 2015-16 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season, Commissioner Kim Davis took time to talk about the season that was, and the season that is to come. He also offered his observations on players leaving the MJHL for other leagues, including players leaving for American teams, resulting in some major holes for some teams to fill. Looking back on last year, Davis said he was impressed with how competitive teams were in a year where Portage loaded up for their RBC Cup run, and offered his praise to the Terriers for finally bringing a national championship back to Manitoba. “The season was a very good one throughout the regular season and playoffs,” said Davis. “Portage seemed to march through the playoffs, but the games I saw were tough games to win. “And the biggest thing to me in regards to the results was that I was just so happy for the players in Portage,” he added. “And more generally for the coaches and the organization, but my first thought was how happy I was for the players who played such great hockey throughout the playoffs, and to win a national championship is the pinnacle of what they can achieve in the sport at this level.” Looking ahead, with no team hosting a Western Canada Cup or the RBC Cup (as has been the case in recent seasons), Davis is expecting all teams to enter the season with thoughts on winning a championship. “I’ve talked with a few coaches in the league in the past few weeks, and almost all of them expect this will be a very competitive season,” said Davis. “Who knows who’s going to be the top team this year – it could very well be a different team – but who knows?” Davis then spoke of teams losing players to American teams, and receiving only cash back – often times only a fraction of what they might fetch if traded to a Canadian team. But due to international agreements between Canada and the United States, there’s little that can be done by Davis. But he notes the MJHL prides itself of developing players for other levels of hockey, and that aiding players in their goals is part of what junior A hockey is all about. “Ultimately our league supports players in their choice to play where they feel is best for them,” said Davis. “Obviously at the local level they want to have the best team, but at the end of the day, teams exist to provide opportunities to players to advance. “And some moves don’t seem to make sense because they don’t seem like advancement, but if that’s the path the player chooses, and we have to respect and support that.” Davis adds he knows this is frustrating for teams and the league. The commissioner said the MJHL will also continue to raise the profile of the league through sponsorship opportunities, and try to build off a year where the MJHL was most definitely in the spotlight. “It’s one of those things where you have to do something every year,” said Davis. “We’re also going to continue to reach out to potential players, meeting with them and their parents, and offering camps in the spring. This will be more of a continuation of what we’ve already begun in helping to build the brand of this league.”

Kings to Honour Dauphin Fire Department with Limited Edition 3rd Jersey

Jerseys will be available for auction later in season. The Kings red 3rd jerseys this season will feature the Dauphin Fire Department Logo on the front of the jersey. The Kings authentic logo will be on both shoulders of the special edition jersey. The Dauphin Kings organization is honouring the Dauphin Fire Department and their past and present members in recognition of extraordinary services the City of Dauphin and surrounding areas. GM and Head Coach Marlin Murray discusses how the jersey came to fruition, “I was driving by the Fire Hall one day and seen the firefighters just getting back from a call. They looked exhausted. I thought to myself, we are so lucky to have them in our community. By the time I drove 4 blocks to my house, I thought the Kings could honour them with this jersey. From there, we took the idea to the executive. They really liked the idea. After the meeting I reached out to Cam Abrey, the Fire Chief and set up a meeting with him and discussed the idea. He liked it as well. Once everyone agreed with the idea Dave Campbell, Owner of Parkland Source for Source and long-time King sponsor and I sat down and went over different scenarios and come up with this jersey. We wanted to keep the Kings color scheme but also implement their logo in it. We really like how it turned out”. The Dauphin Kings will also be recognizing different members of the Dauphin Fire Department throughout the course of the season by having them drop the ceremonial puck drop before specific games. The Kings organization would like to thank North of 51/Rogers wireless for sponsoring the jerseys. The jerseys will be auctioned off at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. Stay tuned for more details and game dates in which the jerseys will be worn!

Pistons creative in fund raising ventures

The Steinbach Pistons second year of trading ice and their Zamboni for dirt and a tractor has paid off in the off-season. The Pistons are getting close to harvesting their second crop next month with the help of Henervic Farms, MazerGroup Ltd, Southeast Seeds, Mark Hutlet Seeds, Adama, Sengenta along with the leadership and guidance of Herbsigwell Farms. And just like any farm season, there have been ups and downs. “This year started out very promising with an early dry seeding date,” said Scott Peters of Herbsigwell. “Soon after we had large amounts of rain and a solid dose of hail. Just for good measure we had cutworm issues aswell.” This is almost exactly what happened last year, except last year’s field experienced excess moisture instead of hail. And just like last year, the field came back to life during throughout the months of July and August. “The crop has rebounded nicely and looks to be an above average yield,” Peters said about this year’s soybean crop. The Steinbach Pistons wouldn’t be able to do a project like this with out involvement from key individuals like Scott and his team at Herbsigwell Farms. “It’s a great way to give back to the community,” commented Peters, who is also one of the Pistons 38 community owners. “We all like to see a high level of hockey close to home as well as a successful team. It takes volunteers and money and time to have success in the MJHL. We try and do our part to contribute.” The Pistons already have made some money off the crop due to the purchase of hail insurance, not it’s a wait and see game to see what the yield will be at harvest time in the next couple of weeks.