Kings’ Leininger Commits To SUNY Plattsburgh

DAUPHIN, MB - The Dauphin Kings and now former forward Keaton Leininger are pleased to announce that the Bismarck, ND product has committed to the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals (NCAA DIV III) for […]

Flyer’s Lindstrom Commits to Curry College

The Winkler Flyers are pleased to announce that graduating defenseman Tyler Lindstrom has committed to the Curry College Colonels (NCAA Div III) for the 2017-2018 season. The Brooklyn Park, Minnesota native played parts of two seasons with the Flyers and is now one of three players committed to a Collegiate hockey program. Lindstrom (96) recorded 15 points (4 goals – 11 assists) in 61 regular season games played for the Flyers over the past two seasons. The 6’0”, 180lbs defenseman also had four points (1 goal – 3 assists) during the 2016-2017 post-season, scoring the triple overtime game winner in Game One of the MJHL Quarterfinals against the Virden Oil Capitals. Lindstrom joins D Lawson McDonald (University of Nebraska-Omaha – NCAA Div I) and D Tyler Jubenvill (Bemidji State – NCAA Div I) as committed players from the 2016-2017 Flyers roster. The Flyers congratulate Tyler on his decision to continue his hockey career and education at Curry College. Former Flyer F Jordy Williamson is also a member of the Colonels.

MJHL Announces Players of the Month Awards

OCN Blizzard’s strong playoff showing was led in large part by Tristan Elie, who has been named RBC Player of the Month for April. Elie, 20, was a big-game/pressure player, reflected in 11 points (5-7) in six games in the Turnbull Cup final. He had three, multiple-point games for the Blizzard, who eventually lost the MJHL championship in six games to Portage Terriers. Elie, who hails from Alexandria, ON, was also named a first-star in one game. The runners up are 19 year old forward Jeremey Leipsic of the Portage Terriers and 18 year old forward Chase Brakel of the Portage Terriers. Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month For the second consecutive month, the Sher-wood Defenceman of the Month is Brady Keeper of the OCN Blizzard. The 20-year-old blueliner was outstanding at both ends of the ice, leading his Blizzard to the MJHL final. Offensively, he recorded five points (1-4) in six games. Keeper, who hails from Cross Lake, is committed to play for University of Maine next season. The runners up are 19 year old Mackenzie Dwyer of the Portage Terriers and 20 year old Riley Thiessen of the Portage Terriers. MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month For the third consecutive month, the MGEU Goaltender of the Month is Brett Epp, 19, of the OCN Blizzard. Epp, who hails from Edmonton, kept his club in many games, recording a blazing 2.17 GAA and save percentage of .928. He also recorded one shutout enroute to a 2-4 record. The runner up is 18 year old Kurtis Chapman of the Portage Terriers. IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month A teenager from sunny Redondo Beach, CA is the winner of the IBAM Rookie of the Month: Takato Cox of the Portage Terriers. Cox, 18, stepped up when the pressure was on, reflected in five points (2-3) in eight games in April. He had two, multiple-point games over that span, and one, first-star selection. The runners up are 16 year old defenceman Layne Toder of the Portage Terriers and 16 year old forward Justin Nachbaur of the OCN Blizzard.

Thank You

Thank-you to the member teams and to the players, coaches, management and support staffs for your dedication, hard work, and desire along with your efforts to be positive role models and ambassadors for the League and within your communities. Thank-you to the billets, volunteers, and game day staffs for your countless hours of time given, your selflessness, hard work and for helping make the Junior A experience special for everyone. Thank-you to the on-ice officials for your professionalism, dedication, and passion for the game along with the many hours spent driving across Manitoba on game nights.  The quality of the officiating in the MJHL is outstanding and the officials play a major role in the MJHL providing an elite Junior A setting. Thank-you to the media for the great coverage this season which reached new levels during the playoffs culminating in Game 6 in Portage.  The increased coverage was very much appreciated by all and it helped display to people what MJHL Hockey is all about. Thank-you to the Fans, Sponsors, and League Partners for supporting MJHL Hockey, this support is what allows the MJHL and each team the opportunity to operate and the ability to provide the players with a positive environment to grow and develop, as both hockey players and people. The 2016-17 season has been very successful both on and off the ice and we look forward towards the 2017-18 season with many exciting announcements to come.  The MJHL exists to provide an elite development environment for the players and we look forward to continuing to develop elite players and people. Thank-you again to the entire MJHL Community!  

Portage Terriers’ Brakel named Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week

Chase Brakel stepped into the hero role recently, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over OCN Blizzard, helping the Portage Terriers win the MJHL championship. Those heroics earned Brakel this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. Brakel, who hails from Winnipeg, finished the playoffs with an impressive total of 15 points (7-8) in 18 games. After recently winning their third consecutive MJHL championship, the Terriers are now preparing for the upcoming Western Canada Cup scheduled for Penticton, BC. Two teams from the WCC will then advance to the RBC Cup next month. The runners up are 20 year old defenceman Brady Keeper of the OCN Blizzard and 18 year old goaltender Kurtis Chapman of the Portage Terriers.

Terriers Threepeat! Champs again

Portage Terriers are once again champions of the MJHL after a dramatic 1-0 victory over OCN Blizzard Wednesday before 2,200 at Portage’s Stride Place. It was the third consecutive Turnbull Cup for the Terriers and seventh championship over the last 10 years. This year’s championship was hard earned, with the Terriers having to battle back from a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven championship series against the determined Blizzard, who last won the MJHL in 2003. “This is a tremendous feeling,” Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller told CFRY-Radio. “Chappy (Kurtis Chapman) was unbelievable. We had some chances but their goaltender was equally as good.” Chase Brakel, who was a member of last year’s championship squad, scored the game’s lone goal just 1:16 into the first period. It was his seventh of the post-season. From that point on it was a goaltenders’ battle, with Kurtis Chapman earning his fourth shutout of the post-season. “The whole team came together,” said Chapman. “And it was a great game for everyone. Our defence and forwards were blocking shots and allowing me to see the shots coming my way.” “This feels amazing, winning the Turnbull at home is surreal,” said Brakel. “I remember sitting in the room after the 6-0 loss in Game 2 and Soko (Ryan Sokoloski) looked at me and said we’ll have to win the series in six. “This (championship) feels sweeter this season, I suppose because we were underdogs coming into the playoffs. There’s less pressure on us this season because Steinbach was top dog.” Jared Roy, who hails from Portage, admitted winning the championship at home was an unbelievable feeling. “This is surreal,” said Roy, 18. “Playing in front of your hometown; nothing beats that. They (OCN) came out hard. But Chappy was unreal.” EXTRA POINTS: Terrier forward Jeremey Leipsic was named Top Scorer … Josh Martin was named MVP … OCN goaltender Brett Epp was named player of the game….OCN graduates eight players…Terriers now advance to the Western Canada Cup which begins April 29 at Penticton…Terriers’ captain Riley Thiessen was unable to play Wednesday due to injury; but that didn’t prevent him from accepting the Turnbull Cup in the frenzied post-game celebration.

Terriers one win away from MJHL Championship

Portage Terriers are one victory away from winning another MJHL championship with a nail-biting 3-1 win Sunday night over OCN Blizzard. Terriers, who are now up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, now have a chance to win their third consecutive Turnbull Cup at home on Wednesday. “We played like we needed to,” Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller told CFRY-Radio. “(OCN) had some chances and they aren’t going away. They (OCN) are now playing for their lives on Wednesday. We know they’ll be tough." “We’re not going to look too far ahead. We go home, relax for a day and get back to work on Tuesday and then worry about Wednesday when the time comes.” After a scoreless first period, three goals were scored in the second period with Ty Barnstable and Mackenzie Dwyer (powerplay) scoring for the Terriers, while Justin Nachbauer ignited the raucous crowd at Gordon Lathlin Memorial with a powerplay goal. “Coming up the last two games the guys really didn’t know what to expect,” Dwyer said of the losses in Game 1 and 2. “Tonight we learned from the last two games. We put our losses up here behind us and got back to work." “We kept doing what we needed to do tonight. Obviously, we know OCN is not going to quit.” Terriers managed to hang on in the third period and with OCN goaltender Brett Epp on the Blizzard bench in the dying seconds, Ryan Hendrix added an insurance goal for the Terriers with an empty-net goal. “Obviously the last couple of game weren’t pretty for us,” Spiller said of the Terriers’ two losses in Games 1 and 2. “I thought we played real solid in the first period today. I thought we generated some offence in the first and played with confidence. Getting that first goal was good for us. “We played with a lot more confidence and a little bit more relaxed after our first two games here. We wanted to get the two at home to be even up coming back here. I thought we played solid for the most part. But, Chappy (goaltender Kurtis Chapman) pulled us through.” EXTRA POINTS: CFRY’s Hardest-Working Player of the Game award went to Mackenzie Dwyer … Player of the Game Award was given to goaltender Kurtis Chapman … OCN Blizzard was the last team to win three-consecutive MJHL championships (1999-2003; five in total).

Terriers Even Final In Dramatic Fashion

PORTAGE, MB – The MJHL final for the Turnbull Cup is now a best-of-three affair. After losing the first two games of the final by lopsided scored, the Terriers won their first two home games to even the best-of-seven series 2-2 with a dramatic 4-3 victory overtime victory Thursday night. Portage shook off a late game-tying goal by OCN to even the series as Chase Brakel notched his sixth post-season goal at the 6:52 mark of overtime. “We thought we had the empty-net goal (late in the third period), but we bounced back, and our top line always seems to find a way, and now we’re tied 2-2,” Terriers head coach Blake Spiller told CFRY following the game. The two teams traded leads prior to the game winner. The Terriers opened the scoring 3:28 into the first period on the power play as Jeremy Leipsic scored his fifth of the post season. The Blizzard took the lead with the next two goals. They tied the game 1:35 after Portage took the lead as Jeremy Dumont notched his sixth of the playoffs. They took the lead at the 12:09 mark of the second period as defenseman Maverick Rafter scored his first of the post season. Portage drew even just 25 seconds in to the third period as Josh Martin scored his fifth of the playoffs, making the score 2-2. The home team retook the lead 8:39 into the third, with rookie Cody Thompson notching his first playoff goal. But after an empty-net goal was waived off due to an offside call, OCN sent the contest to overtime as George King scored his second of the post season with only 52 seconds left in regulation. GAME NOTES – The home team has won every game in this series … 1,522 fans took in this game … Brakel was named the game’s first star … Game 5 goes Sunday in OCN. Game time is 7 p.m. Game 6 will take place in Portage next Wednesday, with a start time of 7:30 p.m.

Terriers win Game 3 in MJHL Final

Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 3-2 in Game 3 of the Turnbull Cup final Wednesday night at Portage. OCN now leads the best-of-seven final 2-1, with Game 4 going Thursday in Portage. Takato Cox stepped into the hero role, scoring the eventual game-winner late in the third period. It was his second of the game. Josh Martin rounded out the Terriers’ scoring. Lantz Hiebert and George King scored for the Blizzard, who posted previous wins of 8-3 and 6-0. “I thought we were good early and it was good to get the lead,” Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller told CFRY-Radio. “It allowed a mistake here and there, and you’re still in the game. I thought we were solid. This win gives us a chance to get back into series.” Spiller admitted the Terriers played much stronger at home than on the road at OCN. “Had we scored early or even first, it might have changed things,” he said. “The fans up there (OCN) are very loud. Scoring early might have changed that for us.” EXTRA POINTS: The announced crowd was 1,300…First star was Cox…Game 5 is scheduled for OCN on Sunday (April 16).

Waywayseecappo seeks new General Manager

The Waywayseecappo Wolverines have parted ways with General Manager, Barry Butler. The Wolverines are in restructure, rebuild, rebrand mode and are searching for staff who will embrace change, recognize the challenge, and enthusiastically lead the club, on and off the ice to success. The goal of the Wolverines is to fill the General Manager position in advance of naming a head coach and support staff. The ideal candidate will have a strong hockey background (coaching), have excellent business administrative skills, have a scouting and recruiting network, and demonstrate leadership with a strong focus on player development. Those who have already submitted resumes for the Assistant GM position will be reviewed for this posting. Only candidates under consideration will be contacted. For more information, please contact Dan Szwaluk, Chairman, Waywayseecappo Wolverines Board of Directors on or before April 23, 2017 via email at

Former Terrier Harms wins Division 1 award

Portage Terriers’ alumni Brendan Harms was recently recognized as the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I men's hockey and captured the 2017 Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive difference as leaders in their communities. Harms, who played two seasons with the Terriers, was a senior with Bemidji State Beavers, who are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In two seasons with the Terriers he scored 50 goals and recorded 120 points. Harms, who hails from Steinbach, was a business administration major with a minor in human performance. This past season for the Beavers he recorded 21 points (8-13) in 21 games. When his college eligibility ended, he signed a contract to play professionally with the Florida Everblades, ECHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

MJHL Prospect Development Camp

After months of planning, the MJHL is proud to officially announce that the inaugural MJHL Prospect Development Camp will take place this summer in Winnipeg at the impressive Seven Oaks Arena Complex from July 27 – 30th.  “The 2017 MJHL Prospect Development Camp will provide the next generation of MJHL Players with the knowledge and resources to be successful both on and off the ice, an experience of what playing in the MJHL is all about, an opportunity to work with current MJHL coaches and players and the platform to showcase themselves to coaches and scouts from all levels.” Kim Davis, MJHL Commissioner What It Is Invite only Prospect Development Camp geared towards current MJHL Prospects born in the years 2001 and 2000 who are eligible to play in the upcoming 2017/18 MJHL season. The main goal of the camp is to prepare these players on and off the ice for what it takes to be successful in the MJHL and what it takes to get to the next level. (NCAA, CHL, USports, NHL). The camp activities will emphasize the elements these players need to focus on to transition successfully from elite minor hockey to elite Junior A hockey. Players will receive both on and off-ice skill development led by experienced professionals in their respective fields. The on-ice program will consist of practice and competitive game sessions, and the off-ice portion will cover elements related to athleticism and mental skills, as well as the technical and tactical skills required to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.  In addition, college eligibility guidelines will be highlighted along with the many benefits of playing in the MJHL. Development Camp Includes: Three Full Games broadcast live by HockeyTV Four Practice/Skill Ice Sessions Four Player Development Seminars including presentation by College Hockey Inc. Opportunity for prospects to interact with current and former MJHL players serving as player mentors during the camp Opportunity for prospects to work with and learn from MJHL Coaches involved in the camp Opportunity for prospects to showcase themselves to scouts at all levels   Prospect Camp Venue Seven Oaks Arena 745 Kingsbury Ave, Winnipeg MB Canada Please stay tuned in the coming weeks as more exciting announcements are still to come! DEVELOPING ELITE PLAYERS AND PEOPLE #LIVEYOURDREAM #WHYNOTYOU

Former Steeler Pleskach suits up for AHL Manitoba Moose

Former Selkirk Steelers’ standout forward Adam Pleskach recently played his first game in the American League with the hometown Manitoba Moose. Pleskach, 28, had been playing with the Moose’s ECHL affiliate Tulsa Oilers. Pleskach, who hails from Beausejour, has 25 points (12G, 13A) in 48 games with Tulsa this season.  In total, he has 211 points (111G, 100A) over 253 professional games in the ECHL and CHL.  Pleskach’s most productive campaign came in 2014-15 when he tallied 71 points (40G, 31A) in 72 games with Tulsa. Prior to turning pro, Pleskach played four seasons at American International College (NCAA), totaling 114 points (59G, 55A) in 138 games.  He studied finance and economics. He was named to the Second Team All-AHA Conference and Third Team All-AHA Conference in 2013 and 2012 respectively. During his four-year career with the Steelers, Pleskach scored 133 goals and 282 points in 187 games played. He led the team in scoring in 2007-08 (52g, 56a – 108p) and 2008-09 (57g, 55a – 112p). His 112 points in 2008-09 ranked him second in the league.  

Steinbach Pistons’ Koga awarded RBC Junior A Scholarship

Steinbach Pistons’ forward Julien Koga been awarded the MJHL’s RBC Junior A Scholarship in the amount of $1,000. “I’m obviously honoured to win this award,” said Koga, who is a second-year science at the University of Manitoba. “My goal is to graduate with a degree in either biology or chemistry and then continue my post-graduate studies in medicine. This scholarship is very much appreciated.” Koga, who turns 20 next month, hails from Winnipeg and thoroughly enjoyed his three seasons with the Pistons and living in Steinbach where he became an active member of the community. Unfortunately, his hockey career was cut short this season due to concussion issues. “This season I suffered my sixth concussion, which forced me to make a major decision in my life,” said Koga. “With the guidance of my coach (Paul Dyck) and my doctor I made the difficult decision to retire.” “I was leaving a part of my life behind, a part that I would never be able to get back. Without the support of my teammates, coaches, billets and parents, I would not have been able to cope with this experience.” Koga, who admits to having a strong interest in pediatrics and orthopedics, also mentored a five-year-old boy who lives in Steinbach. “The boy has had cancer since the age of one and is fighting the battle of his life,” said Koga. “I have tried to be a role model for him, trying to help him have a normal childhood and show him all he has to look forward to.” Koga also spends his summers working at the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities, conducting summer camps for children with disabilities. Last year he coached two Winnipeg spring hockey teams for players aged eight to 10. “Coming out of junior hockey, I can proudly say that this sport and the Pistons have helped shape my character in a way that nothing else could have,” he said. “My time as a junior hockey player has been an experience I will always positively reflect on. I’ve made life-long friends and I know my hockey experience will benefit me as I move to the next stage of my life.” Koga is now one of 10 Junior A nominees eligible for a $5,000 RBC Junior A Scholarship which will be awarded at the RBC Cup next month at Cobourg, Ont.  

OCN Blizzard up 2-0 in MJHL Final

The OCN Blizzard are now two wins away from winning their first MJHL championship since 2003. Blizzard defeated Portage Terriers 6-0 Sunday night before more than 1,200 hometown fans at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Arena. The win came less than 24 hours after the Blizzard posted an 8-3 win over the Terriers on Saturday. Blizzard, who last appeared in a league final in 2006 (lost to Winnipeg Blues), received goals from Jeremy Dumont, Tristan Elle, Daylon Cambell, Kyle Wiltshire and Keevan Daniels. Goaltender Brett Epp recorded the shutout. The best-of-seven Turnbull Trophy final now goes back to Portage for Game 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectfully.

Preview of the Turnbull Trophy finalists

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent And so it begins – the Manitoba Junior Hockey League final. The season started with 11 teams, and now we are down to the final two – the OCN Blizzard and the Portage Terriers. The playoffs have been outstanding thus far, and this matchup of two former Sher-Wood Division heavyweights promises to be just as exciting as the previous six series. Much to the excitement of fans, there will be no shortage of intrigue surrounding this series. OCN makes their first final appearance since 2006 when they fell to the Winnipeg South Blues. And they'll be looking for their first championship since they won five in a row, the last coming in 2003. Interestingly enough, they were dethroned in 2004 in four straight games in the first round by the fourth-seeded Portage Terriers, who ended up making it all the way to the league final before falling to Selkirk. Portage, meanwhile, is two-time defending league champions, and is chasing its third straight Turnbull Cup. They've never won three in a row before, so they are chasing history. Just as Portage ended OCN's championship run 13 years ago, the Blizzard have the same chance to put a stop to the Terriers' three-peat dream. The two teams reached the final via very different routes. The Blizzard went 8-1 – first dispatching the Winnipeg Blues in five games, and then surprisingly sweeping the No. 2-seeded Winkler Flyers. The Terriers entered the post season as the fifth seed. They defeated the Selkirk Steelers in six games, and then surprised the league's top seeded Steinbach Pistons with a six-game classic, closing out the series at home with a 2-0 victory. This series could span 14 days if it goes to a seventh game, with the first four being bunched together, and the last three being well spaced out. Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for OCN April 8 and 9, with Game 3 and 4 slated for Portage April 12 and 13. Game 5, if necessary, would take place back in OCN April 16. A Game 6 would be played in Portage on April 19. And if it goes the distance, the Game 7 would be played in OCN on April 22. The Terriers have used both goalies six times in these playoffs. Kurtis Chapman earned the shutout win in Game 6 versus the Pistons and has two shutouts these playoffs, along with a 1.51 GAA and a .950 save percentage. Teammate Brock Aiken's stats are also impressive – a 2.39 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Brett Epp has played every minute in goal for the Blizzard and he has been lights out. He has three shutouts in nine starts, a 1.54 GAA and a .950 save percentage.  Statistically, Epp and Chapman are nearly identical. Offensively the Terriers have really leaned on rookie Ty Barnstable, who has nine goals already these playoffs (as well as one assist).  Jeremy Leipsic and Josh Martin are both tied for the league lead in points with three goals and nine assists each. The Blizzard, meanwhile, continue to generate offense from the blueline. Brady Keeper, the reigning MJHL MVP and top defenceman, leads his team with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and is a legitimate threat to win the playoff scoring race. He is supplemented by Jeremy Dumont (four goals, three assists), and Victor Knaub (three goals, three assists). Interestingly, no Blizzard has more than four goals through their nine playoff games. Both squads also have their special teams working. Portage has the top-ranked power play at 23.68 per cent, compared to OCN's third-rated unit at 20.93 per cent. The Blizzard sport the top penalty-kill unit at 92.50 per cent (with a short-handed goal), while Portage's penalty killers are ranked fifth at 80.65 per cent. There hasn't been a Game 7 in the MJHL playoffs yet, but this could be the one. That's how close these two teams are heading into the league final. This has all the makings of a classic.

Turnbull Trophy final dates announced

Portage Terriers have advanced to another MJHL championship final by virtue of a 2-0 victory Tuesday against Steinbach Pistons. Game 1 of the OCN/Portage series begins Saturday at OCN. In front of a crowd of 1,300, Terriers were led to victory by goaltender Kurtis Chapman, who recorded the shutout, while goals came from James McIsaac and Scott Mickoski. SERIES G –  PORTAGE TERRIERS vs OCN BLIZZARD Apr 8 Portage Terriers at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm Apr 9 Portage Terriers at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm Apr 12 OCN Blizzard at Portage Terriers 7:30 pm Apr 13 OCN Blizzard at Portage Terriers 7:30 pm Apr 16 Portage Terriers at OCN Blizzard (if necess) 7:00 pm Apr 19 OCN Blizzard at Portage Terriers (if necess) 7:30 pm Apr 22 Portage Terriers at OCN Blizzard (if necess) 7:00 pm  

MJHL-WHL Prospect Watch – Justin Nachbaur, OCN Blizzard

Note to our fans: The MJHL will be highlighting our players throughout the season that are currently signed in the Western Hockey League.   “We feel that the MJHL gives younger players a great opportunity to further develop as a player and person in a very professional and competitive environment,” said Kevin Saurette, Director of Operations, MJHL. “These players are able to play important minutes against older competition which translates into the players being better prepared for when they make that next step to Major Junior Hockey.” The 2nd installment of the WHL Prospect Watch features OCN Blizzard 17-year-old forward Justin Nachbaur. By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent Many Western Hockey League players past and present have gotten a taste of junior hockey life in the junior A ranks before making the jump. And OCN’s Justin Nachbaur is the latest to follow that path to his dreams. The Cross Lake product is in the midst of a thrilling playoff ride with the OCN Blizzard, who are now in the MJHL championship final. Earlier this season he signed on the dotted line with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, and is hoping this year in the MJHL paves the way for a successful season in the Saskatchewan city next fall. “I wanted to sign with Prince Albert ever since I was drafted,” said Nachbaur. “It was a lot of hard work that allowed me to get signed.” The talented forward who just turned 17 in early March has that one factor coaches say you cannot teach – size. He already stands 6’3’ and weighs in at 210 pounds. That size aided him in putting up 11 goals and 20 assists as a 16-year-old with the Blizzard. He also had 52 penalty minutes – all in 52 games this year. “I had a lot of help and support from my teammates this year,” said the rookie forward. “They’ve helped me be successful in this league. He’s added three goals and an assist in nine playoff games – including the series-clinching goal against the Winkler Flyers (shorthanded no less). “The series have been a closer than the scores have indicated,” said Nachbaur. “It’s definitely hard to get those wins, but so far everything has worked out.” His current coach knew he had all the tools to success this year, and he said it was gratifying to see Nachbaur perform as well as has done this year. “I saw him as a Norman Northstar as a 15-year-old, and he was their best player,” said Blizzard head coach Doug Hedley. “We knew he had a shot (to play with us) coming in, and he’s ended up being one of our top four to seven forwards all year. He’s had an outstanding season. “I’ve talked to P.A. about him all season,” he added. “There was even some college interest in him at the MJHL Showcase. But he’s chosen the WHL path.” Hedley added along with his strong shot and work ethic, Nachbaur is a great listener and is a very coachable player. Getting to play in all situations at the junior level as a 16-year-old has benefitted Nachbaur immensely this season, and he feels the MJHL was the right place for him to be this year. “P.A. wanted me here this year, and I think that’s part of the reason they signed me,” he said. “Playing my first year of junior here (in OCN) really helped me a lot. This was a great way to see how the junior level is. It’s really helped me get ready for the next step next year.” Nachbaur was originally a seventh-round draft pick by the Raiders in the 2015 WHL Bantam draft – the same year Swan Valley defenseman Lane Kirk was drafted by the Raiders in the fifth round. The two northern MJHL rivals could potentially be teammates next season with the Raiders.

MJHL announces Player of the Month Awards

Sitting second among all playoff scorers, Steinbach Pistons’ Bradley Schoonbaert has been named the RBC Player of the Month for March. Schoonbaert, 19, has been outstanding in the post-season reflected in 15 points (6-9) in 14 games. He’s had four, multiple-point games, in addition being named a first star in three playoff games. Aligning to RBC’s #Someday platform, Schoonbaert’s #Someday is "to win the MJHL championship and receive an NCAA division I scholarship.” Schoonbaert, who hails from Brandon, has also played with discipline, reflected in only six penalty minutes in the playoffs. The runners up are 20 year old forward Josh Martin of the Portage Terriers and 19 year old goaltender Brett Epp of the OCN Blizzard. Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month The Sher-wood Defenceman of the Month is Brady Keeper of the OCN Blizzard. A model of consistency, he was a runner-up for the same award last month. Keeper, 20, has been outstanding at both ends of the rink, reflected in 13 points (4-9) in 11 games. It’s from efforts such as this which pushed the Blizzard into the MJHL championship final which will begin this month. Keeper, who hails from Cross Lake, is committed to play for University of Maine next season. The runners up are 19 year old Skyler Thorsteinson of the Neepawa Natives and 19 year old Mackenzie Dwyer of the Portage Terriers. MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month For the second consecutive month, the MGEU Goaltender of the Month is Brett Epp of the OCN Blizzard. Epp, who hails from Edmonton, recorded three shutouts in 11 starts, enroute to a 9-2 record. His save percentage over that span was .947 with a 1.73 GAA. The runners up are 19 year old Troy Martyniuk of the Winkler Flyers and 20 year old Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons. IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month With 14 points in 12 games last month, forward Ty Barnstable of the Portage Terriers has been named the IBAM Rookie of the Month. Barnstable, 18, has been outstanding in the post-season, reflected in being selected a game star on three separate occasions. He hails from Regina. The runners up are 18 year old forward Will Koop of the Steinbach Pistons and 16 year old defenseman Layne Toder of the Portage Terriers. Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month The Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month is goaltender Brandon Holtby of the Dauphin Kings. Holtby, 20, is one of the team’s hardest working players and is an outstanding community ambassador for the Kings. When he’s not between the pipes, Brandon is out and about in the Dauphin area doing his part to make the community a better place. Recently, together with the local RCMP Detachment, Brandon participated in school presentations at MacKenzie Middle School in Dauphin. Along with his teammates, Brandon played an important role in the Dauphin Co-op’s Annual Haunted House which saw over 1,500 visitors. Brandon also works part-time at Parkland Source for Sports helping the young stars of tomorrow get fitted for skates and equipment. Congratulations Brandon for earning the Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month award.

Trio of MJHL alumni win NCAA III championship

A trio of MJHL alumni were members of the recently crowned Norwich University Cadets who captured the NCAA Division III national championship. Goaltender Braden Ostepchuck (Selkirk Steelers), defenceman Dave Robertson (Steinbach Pistons) and forward Taeron Lewis (Winnipeg Blues) all played key roles for the Cadets. Cadets won the championship with a 4-1 win over Trinity (Conn). It was the fourth NCAA Division III championship for Norwich.  

OCN Blizzard storm into league final

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent You could say parts of this season by the OCN Blizzard resemble that fictional season by the Charlestown Chiefs in the classic hockey movie Slapshot. A team finds out midway through the season that this would be their last, followed by a memorable finish to the season and a trip to the league championship. The December announcement that the Blizzard would fold stunned the hockey world. Of course, OCN already thankfully knows they will be around next year as a plan was put in place to save the team. And just like the movie, the Blizzard have punched their ticket into the MJHL final with a dominating 8-1 record through the first two rounds – dispatching Winnipeg and Winkler in the process. Head coach Doug Hedley said the Blizzard had high expectations for these playoffs, but admits the 8-1 record thus far is a bit of a surprise. “We wanted to have our opportunity in these playoffs, but (going 8-1) was not something we expected,” he said. Hedley says his players are all on the same page, noting they have gone through some difficult times together. “When you look back to our difficult schedule with 17 straight road games (in November and December), we came out of that believing in each other,” said Hedley. “Success is easy to sell, but it’s harder to get the buy in, and this group wants to go a long way – they’re one of the best I’ve ever had.” The Blizzard also seem to be feeding off the energy from the community. Crowds are starting to swell to numbers not seen since their glory days in the early 2000s. Thursday’s elimination Game 4 contest attracted more than 1,000 fans. “Winning does that, but when you look at what’s happened since the announcement in December, it’s amazing,” said Hedley. The veteran MJHL coach believes the Blizzard organization went through a real trial by fire situation, and feels they have the potential to be stronger than ever. “(The announcement the Blizzard would be folding) came out, and suddenly it’s all over the news,” he said. “There was a lot of damage control by the board and the coaching staff, reaching out to parents of kids who are listed – it was a real surprise because it happened so fast. “But at the same time, the players knew all we could control was the way we played on the ice, and if this happened to be our last season, leave it all on the ice.” The team learned before the end of the regular season that they would be returning, putting the fan’s focus back on the on-ice product. Still, the work continues to solidify the Blizzard franchise, and amid a stellar playoff run, Hedley says you can’t help but notice how fans, businesses and even other communities are rallying around the team. “We’re getting support from the Northern Bands and communities, people from The Pas are behind us, businesses are behind us – and I really think the organization is going to end up being stronger in the future,” he said. “We’re getting business people involved, and the team is going to be sustainable, and I see a bright future for the Blizzard.”

Waywayseecappo Wolverines looking for new Head Coach and Assistant General Manager

The Waywayseecappo Wolverines Jr. A Hockey Club are accepting resumes for the position of a Head Coach and for the position of Assistant General Manager. The candidate must be willing to contribute to the overall direction of the hockey club and have a strong desire to be a part of the rebranding and restructuring of our hockey operations. The ideal candidate will have a strong hockey background.  Demonstrate leadership skills, have strong business acumen with a strong focus on player development. For a detailed job description or more information regarding the positions, please contact Dan Szwaluk, Chairman, Waywayseecappo Wolverines Board of Directors via email at or by text/cell phone 204-859-0191 on or before April 30, 2017. Only candidates under consideration will be contacted. Spring development camp goes ahead as scheduled on April 14, 15, & 16th with guest on-ice development coach/evaluator, ex NHL/WHL player –  Brandon Nolan.

Former MJHLers playing in Frozen Four

Former Steinbach Pistons’ goaltender Nick Deery and Dauphin King captain Brenden Kotyk are two of 27 CJHL alumni who will suit up in the upcoming NCAA Frozen Four Championship. Both MJHL alumni play for University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who are joined in the Final Four by Denver, Harvard and Notre Dame. The NCAA Frozen Four Championship goes April 6 & 8 in Chicago, Illinois. Deery was a key player for the Pistons in their run to the 2015 final against Portage Terriers. Deery was named the Pistons’ MVP, in addition to playoff MVP. His regular season record was 20-8-0. A native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Deery is studying mechanical engineering. Kotyk, who is a senior with UMD, played two seasons with the Kings (2010-12). At 6-foot-6, he cast a large presence on the blueline. He’s currently studying Public Health.

MJHL Players Among CJHL Leaders

Jeremey Leipsic (Portage), Roman Bengert (Steinbach) and Brady Keeper (OCN) have all achieved significant milestones in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The CJHL released its year-end stats from its membership of 132 teams across Canada. Leipsic, 19,  was only one of five players to reach or surpass 100 points during the regular season. The highly talented forward scored 33 goals enroute to a 100-point season, earning him the Mike Ridley Trophy which is awarded to the MJHL’s leading point getter. Joel Caron of the Montagnards de Saint-Agathe topped all CJHL scorers with 134 points (57-77) in just 47 games, according to recently released stats from the CJHL. Meanwhile, Bengert topped all CJHL goaltenders with a total of 38 regular-season wins. The 20-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S. has committed to Lake Superior State. He was recently named the MJHL’s top goaltender and first-team all-star. Connor Hughes of Carleton Place Canadians was two wins back of Bengert. Keeper, 20, finished in the top four for goals by a defenceman with a total of 20. Keeper, who hails from Cross Lake, was recently named the MJHL’s MVP, in addition to being awarded the league’s Top Defenceman Award. The 6-foot-2 blueliner has committed to University of Maine for next season. Meanwhile in playoff action: Leipsic and his Terrier teammates are deadlocked 1-1 with Steinbach Pistons in their best-of-seven semi-final series. OCN Blizzard are up 2-0 over Winkler Flyers in the other semi-final.

Oil Caps’ Thiessen and sister commit to same NCAA school

It’s one of those feel-good stories. A brother and sister attending the same school, and playing for their respective hockey teams. That’s how it’s worked out for siblings Kyra and Dylan Thiessen (Virden Oil Capitals) who will be attending/playing for Mercyhurst University in Erie. MJHL fans may find the following story very interesting:

Portage Terriers profiled on Roger’s Hometown Hockey

Portage Terriers and the MJHL were front and centre Sunday nationally, when the Roger’s Hometown Hockey was aired from the city of Portage la Prairie. (Hometown Hockey airs prior to the NHL Sunday game, which on this night featured the Vancouver Canucks visiting Winnipeg Jets.) Roger's Hometown Hockey host Ron McLean and co-host Tara Slone were at Island Park with hundreds of Portage fans in the background. The Terriers’ franchise was highlighted a number of times during the broadcast, including interviews with Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller and Jeremey Leipsic, who recently won the Mike Ridley Trophy which is awarded to the league’s top point getter. McLean mentioned several times that the Terriers were playing rival Steinbach Pistons at the PCU Centre: A game which Portage won 4-3 in triple overtime. The series is now tied at one win apiece in their best-of-seven semi-final playoff series. (MJHL Playoff Schedule.) “To be highlighted on a national hockey broadcast is very positive for the entire league,” Commissioner Kim Davis said. “The Terrier franchise has a very long and proud history, which was shown to millions of hockey fans across Canada. It was an excellent show and placed the Terriers in a very positive light.”

Second Round Playoff Preview

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent The final four of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoffs are set, and they feature two intriguing matchups. Let’s look at the two series and how they stack up. No. 5 Portage vs. No. 1 Steinbach The two-time defending league champion Portage Terriers ‘upset’ the Selkirk Steelers in the opening round series. Upset might be a strong word as they were extremely close in the standings, but the Terriers were the No. 5 seed and they were technically the underdog. They advance to face the top team in the MJHL this season, the Steinbach Pistons. After finishing as the top seed in the regular season, the Pistons had the unenviable task of facing the hottest team in the MJHL heading into the playoffs – the Neepawa Natives. The Pistons required six hard-fought games to advance against the eighth seed. Neepawa might have did Steinbach a favour, as they really made them work for their first-round series win, and they have to be sharp as they get set for Portage. Roman Bengert started all six games for the Pistons, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.50 GAA. His save percentage was down from his season average, coming in at .893. However, he only allowed one goal against in the final two games of the series when it mattered most. Portage counters in goal with Kurtis Chapman, who started the final four games of the Selkirk series and was lights out, earning first star in the final three games. He boasts a 1.00 GAA and a .965 GAA with one shutout in these playoffs. Portage was expected to have a strong offense carry them through the playoffs, but they are getting it done defensively as well. That said, their offense is starting to come alive. Jeremy Leipsic, who had 100 points in the regular season, was comparatively quiet in the first five games of the series, putting up four points in that span. However, he put up four points in the series finale and now leads the MJHL playoff scoring race with eight points (three goals, five assists). Josh Martin, acquired from Swan Valley at the deadline, is also finding his groove with his new team, and sits second in team scoring with seven points (three goals, four assists). Rookie Ty Barnstable sits tied for third in team scoring with four goals and a helper in six games. Also sitting on five points are Ryan Sokolski (two goals, three assists) and Riley Thiessen (five assists). Their opponents are getting scoring from many sources, as 11 players got at least one goal in the first round. Leading the way for the Pistons is Bradley Schoonbaert (three goals, three assists) and Mackenzie Graham (one goal, five assists). The only other multiple goal scorer is Braden Purtill and his three goals. Portage has the edge in the team power play. They are ranked No. 1 in the post season with a 27.78 per cent success rate (better than one-in-four chances), while the Pistons were fourth with an 18.18 per cent success rate. The Pistons have a slight advantage when it comes to the penalty kill – they were second with 86.21 per cent compared to the Terriers who were third at 84.62 per cent. There are all sorts of intrigue in this series. The Pistons are the top seed and are looking to get over the hump and win their second championship since relocating to Steinbach. To do that they’ll have to defeat the team who eliminated them in two straight league finals. The Terriers, meanwhile, are chasing a rare three-peat – an accomplishment not completed in the MJHL since the OCN Blizzard dynasty of the early 2000s. No. 3 OCN vs. No. 2 Winkler The other semifinal pits two teams who can keep the puck out of the net. The OCN Blizzard breezed by the Winnipeg Blues in five games in what was the shortest first-round series. The outcome of that series was never really in doubt as the Blizzard dominated the Blues, only falling in Game 4 in overtime. The Flyers, meanwhile, had another doozy of a series against a familiar playoff opponent, the Virden Oil Capitals. Three of those games went into overtime including a triple overtime classic. The Blizzard have an extremely strong back end, led by netminder Brett Epp, who posted shutouts in two of five games with a 1.76 GAA and a .939 save percentage. OCN also generates scoring from their own end, as the reigning most outstanding defenseman Brady Keeper leads the team with seven points (two goals, five assists). The other leading point getter for the Blizzard is forward Victor Knaub with his three goals and three assists. No one else has more than three points through five playoff games. The Flyers turned to Troy Martyniuk in the opening round, and he put up a sizzling .944 save percentage and a 1.64 GAA. He also chipped in with an assist. Offensively no Flyer has more than two goals so far in these playoffs. Will Blake leads the team with six points (two goals, four assists), with a logjam of four players tied for second with five points – Ian Mackey, Lawson McDonald (two goals, three assists each), along with Tyler Jubenvill and Nolan McGuire (one goal, four assists each). One of the special teams matchup is a classic strength versus strength. OCN’s penalty kill was ranked first at 90.91 per cent, while Winkler’s power-play was ranked second and 23.08 per cent. The other has two weaker units battling one another. Winkler’s sixth-ranked penalty kill unit (77.42 per cent) will match up with OCN’s fifth-ranked power-play unit (15.79 per cent). Both teams enter the series riding the play of their goaltenders, and this should be a defensive battle through to the end. The winner of the series could be who wins the battle of the special teams.

Semi Final Series Schedule

SERIES E –  PORTAGE TERRIERS vs STEINBACH PISTONS Mar 24 Portage Terriers at Steinbach Pistons 7:30 pm Mar 26 Steinbach Pistons at Portage Terriers 4:30 pm Mar 29 Portage Terriers at Steinbach Pistons 7:30 pm Mar 31 Steinbach Pistons at Portage Terriers 7:30 pm April 2 Portage Terriers at Steinbach Pistons (if necess) 7:30 pm April 4 Steinbach Pistons at Portage Terriers (if necess) 7:30 pm April 5 Portage Terriers at Steinbach Pistons (if necess) 7:30 pm   SERIES F –  OCN BLIZZARD vs WINKLER FLYERS Mar 25 OCN Blizzard at Winkler Flyers 7:30 pm Mar 26 OCN Blizzard at Winkler Flyers 7:30 pm Mar 29 Winkler Flyers at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm Mar 30 Winkler Flyers at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm April 1 OCN Blizzard at Winkler FLyers  (if necess) 7:30 pm April 3 Winkler Flyers at OCN Blizzard (if necess) 7:00 pm April 5 OCN Blizzard at Winkler Flyers (if necess) 7:30 pm  

Virden Oil Capitals’ Cowlthorp Commits to Norwich

  The Virden Oil Capitals are proud to announce that graduating forward Carter Cowlthorp has committed to the Norwich University Cadets of the NCAA Div III Great Northeast Athletic Conference for next season. Cowlthorp, who hails from Boissevain arrived in Virden early in the 14/15 season from the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. “I can speak on behalf of the whole organization on how thrilled we are that Carter will be going to a great program such as Norwich,” said GM & Head Coach Troy Leslie. In his three years in Virden, Cowlthorp appeared in over 161 games and is coming off a career year in which he registered 24 goals and 52 points. Along with the career high in points and goals, he was named the Oil Caps Redferns Hardest Working Player, along with picking up the Fountain Tire Fan’s Choice Award and the Arlington Hotel Three Star Award at last week’s Oil Caps Year End Banquet. “Carter has been a great representative of the Oil Capitals organization both on and off the ice,” added Leslie. “We wish him nothing but the best at Norwich and sincerely thank him for all he has brought to this organization.” In Norwich, Cowlthorp joins fellow Boissevain native and former Steinbach Piston David Robertson along with former Winnipeg Blues forward Taeron Lewis. Norwich is a private military college based in Northfield, Vermont. The Oil Capitals would like to congratulate Carter on this achievement and wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of education.

Stampeders looking for new GM/Head coach

The Swan Valley Stampeders Jr. A Hockey Club are accepting resumes for the position of a full time GM/Head Coach. The candidate would be responsible for the overall direction of the hockey club. The ideal candidate will have a strong hockey background. Demonstrate leadership skills, strong business acumen and a strong focus on player development. For a detailed job description or more information regarding the position please contact Dave Kirk. Only candidates under consideration will be contacted. Please send resume to Dave Kirk, President, Swan Valley Stampeders Jr. A Hockey Club on or before April 21/17.

Former Terrier wins rookie of year with Regina

Former Portage Terrier Nick Henry was recently awarded the Nick Papas Rookie of the Year by the Regina Pats. Henry, 17, lead Pat rookies in scoring most of the season. His regular linemates have been Sam Steel (WHL scoring leader) and Dawson Leedahl. Henry, who won the MJHL rookie of the year award ;last season, was second among all WHL rookies with 80 points (35-45) in 70 games. Henry is quick to credit last year’s experience with the Terriers for his success this season. “Blake (Spiller) was a really good coach and he taught me to be a good player, and I have to give him a lot of credit for that,” Henry recently told the MJHL Website. “The WHL is really built for 17, 18 and 19-year-old players, and a few 20-year-olds” said Henry. “Being a 16-year-old playing in the MJHL still offered me really good competition, and the ability to play with really good players, and I think it prepared me by showing me what junior hockey is like. The WHL is a different league than the MJHL, but the MJHL was still a great league to play in. Henry admitted that leaving his hometown Portage was stressful. “Starting this year off, it was a tough decision for my family to come here (to Regina), but when I did come there were a lot of players away at NHL camps, and that kind of gave myself and some other young guys the opportunity to step in and play big minutes for the first four games,” he said. “I was able to jump on a line with Sam Steel and Dawson Leedahl and we clicked. “Sam is signed in the NHL (with the Anaheim Ducks) and he’s a really special player to play with, and watching him play every game and he the way he works is a really neat experience, and I want to get to where he is,” added Henry. Playing on two dominant teams in back-to-back seasons has provided Henry a window to showcase his skills. And though young in age, he’s mature enough to realize having a legitimate chance at winning a championship in back-to-back years is unique opportunity. “I’m really lucky to play on a team like this,” he said. “Even last year (with the Portage Terriers), after winning the RBC Cup the year before, they were not expected to do as much, but Blake (Spiller, Terriers head coach) was able to put together another strong team like he always does and we were able to win it and come one win away from the RBC Cup. “And this year in Regina we have a lot of special players, and made some good deals to make us better for this year and next year, and it’s really exciting to be a part of.”  

 OCN/Blues game postponed

Due to poor road conditions, Friday’s playoff game between OCN Blizzard and Winnipeg Blues has been postponed until Sunday, March 19. Game time will be 7 p.m.

MJHL playoff watch

The post-season is fully underway and fans can follow the progress of their favourite by going to the MJHL Playoff Bracket.   

MJHL Bantam Draft June 4

Winnipeg will host this year’s annual Bantam Draft which will take place June 4. The draft will begin at 9 a.m., and fans can follow the action by utilizing the RinkNet Live Draft Centre tool. This was made possible by a partnership between the MJHL and Hockey Tech. "The annual Draft for the league is always a special event in that it propels teams forward when they select young players who will develop into stars on their MJHL clubs,” MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis said. “The draft is also the final major event in the league's annual calendar so it's a great way to wrap up the season." The draft is for players born in 2002. About RinkNet RinkNet's Live Draft Centre provides a complete solution for leagues and teams to efficiently manage their draft day preparation and execution.  This live software is displayed on terminals for each member team and enables  drafts to be conducted either in-person or remotely through team inputs and league/commissioner approval.  These confirmed draft picks are then made available online to the public in real-time. "RinkNet is truly a one-stop tool for teams and leagues to prepare for and conduct an efficient draft," said Jim Price, COO of HockeyTech.  "RinkNet's authority is in its ability not only to compile information for team draft preparation, but to be able to share this information in real-time within league environments and with the fans and media." Teams can input, update, and share scouting information amongst themselves all year-long on the RinkNet system as they prepare for the draft.  As players come off the board, these systems are automatically updated to reflect the current available player list.  RinkNet ensures ahead of draft day that all players on a team's draft board meet eligibility requirements  and that no player is mistakenly "drafted twice." Following the draft, RinkNet will continue to maintain a Draft Centre website so that media, fans, and scouts from hockey organizations inside and outside of the league can reference the results at any time. Fans and supporters should re-visit the MJHL website for more information as the Draft day draws near.

Terriers’ Brakel enjoys playoff experience

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent Despite being one of the younger players in the MJHL this season, Chase Brakel is playing like a seasoned veteran. The Portage Terriers’ forward, who just turned 18 years old on December 1st, finished second overall  the league scoring race with 80 points: 20 points back of teammate Jeremey Leipsic, who won the Mike Ridley Trophy. Brakel and Leipsic are now in an exciting playoff battle with Selkirk Steelers. (Full playoff schedule can be seen here.) Routinely paired with the leading scorer in the league – that being Jeremy Leipsic – Brakel is part of a lethal one-two combo that has combined for more than 100 points so far this season. “Obviously I’m doing pretty good this season, and it helps playing regularly with my line mate (Leipsic) – we have good chemistry together,” said Brakel, a Winnipeg native. “We’ve really been clicking this year.” The 5’10, 175-pound forward added the third member of that line can change depending on the situation and who head coach Blake Spiller wants out on the ice with them. And despite only recently turning 18 years old, Brakel says he doesn’t feel out of place or intimidated on the ice playing against players much older and sometimes larger than he is. “I don’t really notice it out there,” he said. “Being a year or two younger than some of the guys at the top of the scoring lead, I don’t think it affects me too much. I just try to go out there and play my game, and try to help the team win. That’s the focus.” Brakel has the good fortune of drawing on last year’s deep, championship playoff run by the Terriers. Playoff experience is invaluable come this time of the year. “We have a really good chance this year, just like last year,” said Brakel, who wants to play NCAA Division One hockey when he’s done his junior career. And if the name Brakel sounds familiar, it should – his grandfather Hank Brakel was a general manager with St. Boniface Saints back in the 1990s, winning a league championship in the 1993-94 season on a team coached by Bruce Schmidt and led on the ice by the likes of Kane Chaloner, Derek Rigaux, and future CAJHL player of the year Cory Cyrenne. The younger Brakel is hoping to continue that championship tradition.        

Winkler Flyers’ Martyniuk named Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week

Undefeated in two playoff starts, goaltender Troy Martyniuk has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. Martyniuk, 19, was outstanding last week, reflected in turning aside 70 of 75 shots over those two games against Virden Oil Capitals. His GAA was 1.78, combined with an outstanding save percentage of .940. A product of the Winnipeg Thrashers, Martyniuk was also named a game star (2nd) in the Flyers’ OT victory in Game 1. The runners up are 20 year old goaltender Tyler Gutenberg of the Neepawa Natives and 20 year old defenceman Brady Keeper of the OCN Blizzard. MJHL post-season play is now in full action. The full schedule can be seen on the MJHL website.

Neepawa excited about playoff appearance

For the first time in seven seasons the Neepawa Natives have qualified for the MJHL post-season and everyone associated with the organization couldn’t be more thrilled. Natives, who made the playoffs with a win in their final regular-season game, now take on No. 1 ranked Steinbach Pistons. “That last game was unbelievable,” said GM Myles Cathcart. “It was just like the old days. The place was packed. The fans were loud. There had to be more than 1,000 in our rink. It was a great atmosphere." “It’s fun times for us now,” he said with a laugh. “It’s kind of like the old days for those of us who have been here for a while. Making the playoffs. Having games in spring. It’s just unreal for us.” Cathcart’s association with the Natives run deep. He was a member of the original Natives, and over the years has held a number of roles. By his own admission, the franchise has faced, and overcome its share of adversity. “It’s been a very long process for our organization,” he said. “It’s been a process getting back to where we are competitive; to where players want to be here and not want to leave. Making the playoffs helps us from both recruiting players to approaching sponsors and advertisers." “Making the playoffs really shows growth in the right direction for us.” Cathcart vividly remembers the days when the Natives entered the MJHL and iced a competitive team on a yearly basis. The Natives, under then coach Don MacGillivray, last advanced to the league final in the mid-90s, losing to St. James Canadians. (MacGillivrary is now an assistant coach with Brandon Wheat Kings, after an outstanding career in the MJHL.) “When our team does well, the community is excited,” said Cathcart. “A lot of great people put in a lot of hard work to get the team where it is today. Both on the ice and off the ice. The community of Neepawa has always supported their Natives. “Now, by making the playoffs, we can give something back to them with exciting, competitive hockey.” The full MJHL playoff schedule can be seen HERE.  

Condolences to family and friends of Winnipeg Blues’ Ken Kronson

The MJHL extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Ken Kronson. Ken had a long association with our league, serving as president and director with the then Winnipeg South Blues. Below is Ken’s obituary: KENNETH HOWARD KRONSON Peacefully, after a brief battle with cancer, surrounded by his closest friend and cousins, Kenneth Howard Kronson, passed away on February 6, 2017 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was preceded in death by his father Philip, his mother Jessie and his brother Paul. He leaves to mourn his wife Johanna, also of Winnipeg; his son Jeffrey and daughter-in-law Jean Kronson; (grandchildren, Mia, Gabriel and Aaron), of Los Angeles, CA and his daughter Sari and son-in-law Wojtek Kuczynski of Goodyear, AZ. Kenny was born on May 9, 1940 in Winnipeg where he lived all his life. His interest in sports and athletics was life long and he was intensely involved in soccer and basketball. His later life would be dominated by his love of hockey. He went on to the University of Manitoba where he studied Sciences and graduated with a BSC in Pharmacy in 1962. Kenny met Johanna Schindle with whom he spent most of his adult life in 1984 and they were officially married 26 years later in 2010. He began working with his father in pharmacy in the mid-to-late 1960's. After the family moved south to River Heights, his father Phil along with a few other astute pharmacist/businessmen began the Metro Drugs franchise. It was a fixture in Winnipeg from 1965 to 1981 when the corporation was sold. Kenny began the second of three businesses in the early 1980's, Midwest Geriatrics, which was devoted to providing prescriptions to Winnipeg's larger nursing facilities. After Midwest completed its run in the late eighties Kenny embarked upon a new project with a new goal, Medi-Mart Pharmacy on Pembina Highway, which grew over the next 17 years. He sold Medi-Mart Pharmacy in 2006 and retired from the profession having helped countless people with affordable prescription drugs, many for the first time ever. Kenny's love of hockey began when his cousin, Ben Hatskin, brought the Winnipeg Jets and the WHA to Winnipeg in 1972. Kenny was heavily involved with the Winnipeg South Monarchs. From there he went on to the Winnipeg South Blues where he served as President and lifetime Director. He remained a vital and integral member of the Board up until his passing. Finally, he was part of the Executive Board of the World Junior Championships when it was held in Winnipeg in 1999. His contributions to minor hockey in Winnipeg will be difficult to duplicate and the void he leaves will be near impossible to replace. Easily Kenny's most significant contribution and lasting legacy came through sports. Kenny along with his close friend Ernie Nairn founded the YMHA Sportsman's Dinner in 1972. Kenny was the Dinner's Chairman until about three years ago. This remains the first dinner of its kind and is well-known throughout Canada and parts of the United States as a groundbreaking fundraiser that has hosted every major sports figure from almost every sport. From its inception in 1972 to the most recent dinner in 2016, the "Y" Sports Dinner chaired by Kenny has raised over seven million dollars, a feat that may never be replicated. His passing left an irreplaceable hole in the dinner committee. Kenny left a legacy of altruistic volunteerism and gave of himself tirelessly again and again. To quote Harvey Rosen in the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News, "His like shall not pass this way again." In lieu of flowers kindly direct donations to the Ken Kronson Fund, at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.  

MJHL playoffs hit the ice

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent It’s called the ‘new’ season: the playoffs. The opportunity to challenge for the historic Turnbull Trophy often breathes new life into teams. One of the more memorable finishes to a regular season is now in the books, and the eight participants to the 2016-17 Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoffs are set. The final entrant was not decided until the final game of the regular season, making for some high drama. And only seven points separated seeds two through five, meaning who will make it to the MJHL final is most definitely up in the air. Below is a preview of the first-round match-ups (full playoff schedule can be seen by clicking here) No. 8 Neepawa vs. No. 1 Steinbach The Neepawa Natives returned to the playoffs in dramatic fashion, defeating the Swan Valley Stampeders 6-3 in their final game of the year in front of 1,000 plus rabid fans. Things have not been this exciting in Neepawa in some time, and they are looking forward to getting back into the post season. The Natives enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the MJHL – going 7-2-1 in their final 10. That’s only slightly better than their opponent – the Pistons were 7-3 during the same stretch. Interestingly, the Natives picked up a key win over the Pistons in the final week, giving them two crucial points they ultimately required. Neepawa also have the reigning player of the week in Justin Metcalf, who had eight points last week and led the team with 38 goals and 67 points this year. His offense is complimented by the likes of Ashton Anderson (64 points) and Reigan Buchanan (42 points). They Pistons, though, counter with a deeper and more explosive offense (they were second in goals scored at 4.15 goals per game). McKenzie Graham (32 goals, 79 points), Bradley Schoonbaert (72 points) and rookie William Koop (52 points) will lead the way for the Pistons. They will also get plenty of points from their blueline, led by Tyler Anderson (49 points). In goal, Roman Bengert sparkled this year with a 2.14 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Neepawa will go with Tyler Gutenberg in goal. He posted a 3.31 GAA and a .903 save percentage. The Pistons had the best power-play (22.96 per cent) and penalty-kill units this year (89.87 per cent), while the Natives were 10th on the power-play (14.72) and eighth on the penalty kill (79.45 per cent). No. 7 Virden vs. No. 2 Winkler There was a real battle for the second seed this year, with four teams having a legitimate shot at that spot. The Flyers pulled away in the end, and thus draw the seventh seeded Virden Oil Capitals. Winkler did not have an overpowering offensive player this year – leading scorer Scott Gall had a respectable 50 points this year (though he did miss 16 games this season). What they do bring to the table is an extremely balanced scoring attack – a full 11 players had 30 or more points this year. That means their opponents won’t be able to shut down one line, as they have basically three lines that can score. Other Flyers to watch for this post-season include 20-goal-scorer Braden Billaney and defenseman Lawson McDonald (tied for second in team scoring with 49 points). Virden also sports a balanced attack, with eight 30-point men. Carter Cowlthorp tied for the team in scoring with 52 points and has goals in 11 of their past 15 games. The other 52-point man is Mack Hardy. He and Tyler Kirkup led the team with 31 assists each. Between the pipes the battle will be between Virden’s Marc Audet (3.13 GAA, .905 save percentage) and Winkler’s Cole Weaver (2.49 GAA and a .906 save percentage). Special teams have Virden with an edge on the power-play (19.77 per cent vs 17.06 per cent, while Winkler has the slight edge in the penalty kill (83.88 vs. 83.85). No. 6 Winnipeg vs. No. 3 OCN The OCN Blizzard had extremely interesting season this year. Off-ice issue about the future of the franchise and a lengthy stretch where they played constantly on the road did not stop them from having their best finish in years. Now with the team confirmed to play in OCN again next year, the Blizzard and their fans can focus on the task of their first-round opponent the Winnipeg Blues. The Blizzard are led by the league’ most outstanding player and top defenseman Brady Keeper. The pride of Cross Lake was third in team scoring with 48 points. He logs a lot of playing time, plays all the key situations, and will be key to getting the Blizzard into the final four. Up front, George King had 36 goals this year, and lead the team with 54 points, tied with Jeremy Dumont. OCN also sports seven 20-plus goal scorers to contend with. The Blues counter with prolific scorer Dexter Kuczek (eighth in league scoring with 30 goals and 67 points). Winnipeg will rely heavily on him, as well as the likes of Rhett Lough (45 points) and Levi Cudmore (43 points). In goal Brett Epp played admirably since being acquired by the Blizzard. He was 25-11 with a 2.54 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Winnipeg has two capable netminders they can go with – Jacob Gnidziejko (2.97 GAA) and Adam Derochie (3.33 GAA). Neither have a save percentage over .900 though. Winnipeg’s special teams are not that special this year – their power-play is ninth (15.32 per cent) and their penalty kill is a league-worst 77.27 per cent). Meanwhile, OCN sports the fourth-best power-play at 84.91 per cent) and the second-best penalty kill at 84.91 per cent. Special teams are going to be critical. I also think the Blizzard will get a real boost from their fans who are hungry for some playoff success, and that this series might be over sooner than people think. No. 5 Portage vs. No. 4 Selkirk None of the top seeds wanted to place fourth or fifth, because this is going to be a grueling series. Let’s start with the Selkirk Steelers, who finished a mere point behind OCN and three ahead of Portage. They are another one of those balanced attack teams – 10 players have 30 or more points. They are led by Jake Dudar and his 67 points. Cole McCartan (runner up for player of the week) adds 49 to the cause, with Nathan Halvorsen chipping in 48). Portage counters with the top scorer in the league in Jeremy Leipsic and his 100 points (the only player to reach that plateau this year). Chase Brakel was second in scoring with 80 points, with four other players scoring a point-a-game pace (James McIssac, Tyler Enns, Ryan Sokolski and defenseman Mackenzie Dwyer). Rookie Brock Aiken played the most games in goal for Portage, putting up a 3.01 GAA and a .897 save percentage. Selkirk’s Hayden Dola put up better numbers – a 2.74 GAA and a .914 GAA. This series will be strength versus strength. Portage sports the second-best power-play at 22.85 per cent, compared to Selkirk’s fifth-ranked unit at 17.89 per cent. Conversely, Selkirk’s penalty kill squad is fifth ranked at 83.80 per cent, compared to Portage’s ninth-ranked unit at 79.27 per cent). Portage does have 11 short-handed goals as a bit of an X-factor.  

Steinbach firing on all Pistons heading into playoffs

Shown in picture: Kevin Saurette, Director of Operations, MJHL and Paul Dyck, Head Coach and GM, Steinbach Pistons By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent The Steinbach Pistons have been the model of consistency in the past few years. They have iced extremely competitive teams, and enjoy long, deep runs in the post-season. In fact, they just secured first place overall with an impressive record of  49-10-1 after 60 games. The past two years, though, they have not been able to bring home the one prize all teams covet. The Portage Terriers iced even stronger teams, one built to win a national championship. So despite the Pistons being an extremely strong team, they bowed out in the league final both years. This season, though, it’s the Pistons who will enter the post-season as the No. 1 seed and a strong favourite to win the Turnbull Cup. For GM/Head Coach Paul Dyck, this is the exact position they wanted to be in. The Pistons open up against Neepawa in Steinbach. (The full playoff schedule can be seen on the MJHL website.) “I think the majority of the teams in the league had the goal to finish first overall,” said Dyck, who was recently named the MJHL’s coach of the year winner.  “And there’s no question the guys put in a lot of work over the course of the winter. That said, we only have one goal ahead of us, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.” The Pistons’ bench boss does not feel his team is at risk for any sort of let down. He also knows how to keep his team motivated, learning valuable lessons when they won their first league championship in 2013. Finishing second the past two years has only made the team hungrier for success, and they are eager to begin their march to their first league championship since the 2012-13 season. “We are trying to focus on the task at hand each game,” said Dyck. “We know we have to work hard each night for the two points, and know nothing is going to be given to us. And when we clinched, we didn’t have a huge celebration – it was rewarding, but the guys understand there is work to do before we achieve our ultimate goal.” And that road is going to be a challenging one this year, especially as teams go deeper in the post-season. There has not been this much parity in the MJHL in some time. Seeds two through five – Winkler, OCN, Selkirk and Portage – are extremely close to one another in the standings and not that far back of the Pistons. Even Virden and Winnipeg will not be an easy first-round opponent. And the eighth seed, Neepawa, will be in full-playoff mode, having had to win its last game of the season to secure the last playoff spot. “Every game is tough it seems this year,” said Dyck. “There are a lot of games, where if you look at the standings, they seem like they would be an easy team but that isn’t the case. A lot of teams feel like they are in contention, so the playoffs will be very interesting.” The Pistons, though, are hoping to use their veteran experience – and past playoff setbacks – as motivation to fulfill their ultimate prize. “We have a pretty good group of guys, and the experience we can draw on from last year in the finals, and what it takes to be a champion, will be something that is very valuable for us,” said Dyck. “Losing left a sour taste in our mouths, and the veterans wanted to come back this year and be on the other side of it.”

Neepawa Natives’ Metcalf named Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week

Neepawa Natives have made the MJHL playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, thanks in large part to the outstanding play of Justin Metcalf, who has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. Metcalf, 19, recorded eight points (4-4) in the final four games of the regular season. Three of those four games were Neepawa wins, helping the club secure the eighth and final playoff berth. Natives will now face Steinbach Pistons in their best-of-seven, quarter final series. Metcalf, who hails from Winnipeg, had three, multi-point games and was twice named a game star. He also finished first in the Natives’ scoring race with 38 goals and 67 points in 59 games. The runners up are 20 year old forward Cole McCartan of the Selkirk Steelers and 20 year old goaltender Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons.

Round One Schedules

SERIES A – NEEPAWA NATIVES vs STEINBACH PISTONS Mar 10 Neepawa Natives at Steinbach Pistons 7:30 pm   Mar 12 Steinbach Pistons at Neepawa Natives 6:30 pm   Mar 14 Neepawa Natives at Steinbach Pistons 7:30 pm   Mar 17 Steinbach Pistons at Neepawa Natives 7:30 pm   Mar 18 Neepawa Natives at Steinbach Pistons (if necess) 7:30 pm   Mar 20 Steinbach Pistons at Neepawa Natives (if necess) 7:30 pm   Mar 22 Neepawa Natives at Steinbach Pistons (if necess) 7:30 pm     SERIES B – VIRDEN OIL CAPITALS  vs WINKLER FLYERS Mar 10 Virden Oil Capitals at Winkler Flyers 7:30 pm Mar 12 Winkler Flyers at Virden Oil Capitals 7:00 pm Mar 14 Virden Oil Capitals at Winkler Flyers 7:30 pm Mar 16 Winkler Flyers at Virden Oil Capitals 7:30 pm Mar 17 Virden Oil Capitals at Winkler Flyers (if necess) 7:30 pm Mar 19 Winkler Flyers at Virden Oil Capitals (if necess) 7:00 pm Mar 21 Virden Oil Capitals at Winkler Flyers (if necess) 7:30 pm   SERIES C –  WINNIPEG BLUES vs OCN BLIZZARD Mar 10 Winnipeg Blues at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm Mar 11 Winnipeg Blues at OCN Blizzard 7:00 pm Mar 14 OCN Blizzard at Winnipeg Blues   Mar 15 OCN Blizzard at Winnipeg Blues   Mar 17 Winnipeg Blues at OCN Blizzard (if necess)   Mar 21 OCN Blizzard at Winnipeg Blues (if necess) 7:30 pm Mar 23 Winnipeg Blues at OCN Blizzard (if necess) 7:30 pm   SERIES D –  PORTAGE TERRIERS vs SELKIRK STEELERS Mar 10 Portage Terriers at Selkirk Steelers 7:30 pm Mar 12 Selkirk Steelers at Portage Terriers 6:30 pm Mar 14 Portage Terriers at Selkirk Steelers 7:30 pm Mar 15 Selkirk Steelers at Portage Terriers 7:30 pm Mar 17 Portage Terriers at Selkirk Steelers (if necess) 7:30 pm Mar 20 Selkirk Steelers at Portage Terriers (if necess) 7:30 pm Mar 21 Portage Terriers at Selkirk Steelers (if necess) 7:30 pm

Playoff teams becomes a bit clearer

The playoff race is a bit clearer as teams close in on the finish line of the regular season. ‎Below is what we know at this point:   Winkler finishes 2nd Portage finishes 5th OCN needs at least 1 point against Steinbach to finish 3rd Virden must win their final game and Winnipeg must lose theirs in regulation for Virden to finish in 6th place The winner of the Swan Valley – Neepawa game gets the final playoff position finishing in 8th place. Team Points Wins Goal Diff Current Standing Best Finish Worst Finish Games Left Opponents home Notes x – Steinbach 97 48 +124 1 1 1 1 OB * y-Winkler 85 41 +73 2 2 2 1 VO * y-Selkirk 81 39 +43 3 3 4 0 – Tied OCN 3-3 but ahead with (+2) goal differential y-OCN 81 39 +48 4 3 4 1 SP Need 1 point to finish 3rd y-Portage 76 36 +57 5 5 5 1 WW * y-Winnipeg 59 27 -8 6 6 7 1 DK Beat Virden 4-2, need 1 point to clinch 6th y-Virden 58 25 -33 7 6 7 1 WF Must win last game and Blues lose both their games Swan Valley 46 20 -73 8 8 9 1 NN Ahead of Neepawa 3-2(+6) Neepawa 46 20 -59 9 8 9 1 SV * z-Dauphin 39 16 -77 10 10 10 1 WB * z-Waywayseecappo 32 14 -95 11 11 11 1 PT *   x – clinched first place y – clinced playoff position z – eliminated from playoffs

MJHL- In the System Series

New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series (Bantam Players), the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is going to highlight MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will take a look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new MJHL-In the System Player Profile bi-weekly on the MJHL website and through MJHL social media platforms. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Drew Draward Portage Terriers Prospect Position: D Number: 5 Height: 6’2” Weight: 187 Hometown: Beausejour Team: Eastman Selects – Manitoba AAA Midget Drew Draward is the captain of the Eastman Selects and helped Eastman to a strong season in the very competitive Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. He currently has 4 points in three playoff games as his team is facing off against the Winnipeg Thrashers in the first round of the playoffs. Portage Terriers Head Scout/Director of Player Personnel Frank Harding on Draward: “Drew is a prospect we are excited about getting into our line up. He has all the skills to be a top defender. He battles hard and brings a physical presence to his team. He is a leader and is captain of the Eastman Selects provincial midget team. Drew has played as an affiliate with us this season and has shown that he can not only play in our league, he can be a key contributor.”

MJHL Announces Players of the Month Awards

The MJHL’s leading scorer, Jeremey Leipsic, has been named February’s RBC Player of the Month. The Winnipeg native scored 20 points (7-13) in 11 games last month. During the month he had five multi-point games, while being named a game star on three occasions. Leipsic, 19, currently leads the MJHL points race with 32 goals and 97 points. Equally impressive is that he’s only had 12 minutes in penalties this season. Aligning to RBC’s #Someday platform, Leipsic’s #Someday is "to help the Terriers make another championship run and earn a college scholarship". The runners up are 20 year old forward Jake Dudar of the Selkirk Steelers and 19 year old forward Nolan Richards of the Neepawa Natives. Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month The Sher-wood Defenceman of the Month is Tyler Anderson of the Steinbach Pistons. Anderson, 19, was both steady on the blueline and in the offensive zone, reflected in 12 points (5-7) in 11 games. The native of Winnipeg, who was a runner-up for this award last month, was selected a game star twice last month. The runners up are 20 year old Lawson McDonald of the Winkler Flyers and 20 year old Brady Keeper of the OCN Blizzard. MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month The MGEU Goaltender of the Month is Brett Epp of the OCN Blizzard. Epps, 19, posted an impressive 6-1 record in February, including one shutout win. A runner-up for this award in January, his outstanding play in February was recognized in being named a game star twice in February. His save percentage last month was .934 with a 2.00 GAA. The native of Edmonton has an overall record of 24-10, highlighted by three shutouts. The runners up are 19 year old Hayden Dola of the Selkirk Steelers and 19 year old Troy Martyniuk of the Winkler Flyers. IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month With 11 points in 10 games last month, forward Carter Barley of the Selkirk Steelers has been named the IBAM Rookie of the Month. Barley, 17, has been a key member of the Steelers who sit third in the MJHL standings. Barley, who hails from St. Andrews, is having a good freshman season, reflected in 12 goals and 27 points in 53 games. The runners up are 18 year old forward Will Koop of the Steinbach Pistons and 18 year old goaltender Riley McVeigh of the Virden Oil Capitals. Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month The Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month is 20 year old goaltender Tyler Gutenberg of the Neepawa Natives. Tyler has been an ambassador for the Neepawa Natives this year and the month of February has been no different. The native of Brandon has volunteered his time by reading in local schools during ‘I Love to Read’ Month. Tyler has also helped the staff at various Country Meadows Personal Care Home events and participated in Neepawa's weekly Breakfast Club hockey skills events, as well as being a linesman for minor hockey games in both Neepawa and Gladstone. Tyler has also had an exceptional month between the pipes too with five wins last month.

Terriers’ Leipsic closing in on scoring title

By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent The Portage Terriers will not lock down the No. 1 seed this season as they have done the past two years. However, one thing has not changed – they prepare to end the post-season with the MJHL’s leading point man in their arsenal. Jeremey Leipsic has been nothing short of spectacular in his first full season with the Terriers. The Winnipeg native, who played for a year and a half in the BCHL to start his junior career, is closing in on 100 points as the regular season winds down. After 57 games, he has 32 goals and 97 points. Terrier teammate Chase Brakel and Mackenzie Graham (Steinbach) round out the top three with 79 and 78 points, respectively. “I don’t think there’s one thing I can put my finger on,” said Leipsic on his success this year. “I am just trying to bring my ‘A-game’ every game, and that’s worked for myself. And having a line mate like Chase (Brakel) for most of the year, I’ve been able to develop some chemistry with him, and that’s showed on the ice.” The big reason for Leipsic’s lead atop the scoring race is his ability to get goal-scorers the puck. His 65 helpers are 19 better than Graham, who is also second in that category. Leipsic’s aforementioned line mate Brakel, not surprisingly, is tied for the lead as the top goal-scorer this year with 34. OCN’s George King is also sitting on 34 heading into the weekend. “I’ve been a playmaker more than a goal-scorer most of my career,” said Leipsic. “I think my vision has always been one of my strengths, and I think that plays a big part in me getting a lot of assists.” The 19-year-old Winnipeg native was part of Portage’s championship last year, and knows what it’s like to enter the post season as the favourite. That isn’t going to be the case this year – the Steinbach Pistons are the top seed, and the Terriers are likely to enter the playoffs as a strong No. 5 seed, depending on what they do with their games in hand, and how the three teams tied for second place – Winkler, Selkirk and OCN – fare down the stretch. But the Terriers are hungry for a franchise first – a three-peat. And with the top scoring forward in the league, you never know what might happen in a playoff series. “We’re quite a different team from last year – we have more younger-guys, especially on the back end,” said Leipsic. “We’re not the overwhelming favourites, but our coaching staff is going to have everyone ready come playoff time, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of being the underdog this year.” As for next season, Leipsic has one year left of junior eligibility, and he said he plans on returning to the Terriers and continue working towards a NCAA scholarship – a goal he hopes he will be closer to after potentially winning the league scoring race and having a long and productive playoff run. “I haven’t looked too far ahead, as I have one more year (of eligibility) left, but as far I know I’ll be back in Portage next year and earn myself a scholarship soon.”