The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is preparing for a season like no other, during what’s been one of the most trying years in recent history.
To mitigate the risk and spread of COVID-19, the MJHL significantly reduced travel & overnight trips by splitting the league into three divisions – Southwest, Interior and Northwest.
Next up is a glance at the Northwest Divison, which features the Dauphin Kings, OCN Blizzard, Swan Valley Stampeders and Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
2019-20 Regular Season: 31-24-3-2
2020 Post Season: Trailed Portage 2-1 in the first round at the time of shutdown.
Top Returning Scorer: Grady Hobbs | 60GP – 43G – 38A
Estimated Veterans: 12
Players to watch: Koby Morrisseau (F), Grady Hobbs (F), Colby Jaquet (D), Parker Malchuk (D), Vincent Nardone (F)
Breakout Candidate: Austin Lamotte (F), Nakodan Greyeyes (F), Kaden Bryant (F)
Coaches Outlook: “As they are every year, expectations are to be a hard working team that competes every night and one that makes a push for a long playoff run. Look to see a team that plays fast, unselfish, physical and one that competes at a high level.” – Head Coach & General Manager, Doug Hedley
A look inside: Returning four out of their five leading scorers from last season, the Kings look poised to score plenty of goals in 2020-21. The Kings come into the season with a deep roster from top to bottom which should match well against any team in the league. The one question mark for the Kings will be who takes the reigns in the crease following the graduation of last seasons’ deadline acquisition in Levi Mitchell.
2019-20 Regular Season: 16-39-5-0
2020 Post Season: Missed postseason by 18 points.
Top Returning Scorer: Aidan Litke | 25GP – 12G – 9A
Estimated Veterans: 10
Players to watch: Ben Hilhorst (D), David Queree (F), Cole Haukaas (D), Jaden Pashe (F)
Breakout Candidate: Riley Zimmerman (F), Levi Thiessen (F)
Coaches Outlook: “I really like the mix of solid returning MJHL’ers combined with our young newcomers. Expectations are to build the right team culture and then a winning culture. Fans will see a hard working group that is committed to pace, being physical and hard to play against on a nightly basis.” – Head Coach & General Manager, Billy Keane
A look inside: The Blizzard will look to put a rocky 2019-20 season behind them when the puck drops on October 9, and it all started mid-summer with the hiring of Billy Keane as Head Coach & General Manager. It didn’t take long for Keane to put his stamp on the organization after he moved on from a number of Blizzard regulars. An injection of fresh blood along with a stable of young players should help the Blizzard compete on a nightly basis in what will be an ultra-competitive division.
Swan Valley Stampeders
2019-20 Regular Season: 35-19-5-1
2020 Post Season: Led Waywayseecappo 2-1 in the first round at the time of shutdown
Top Returning Scorer: Carter Cockburn | 50GP – 12G – 11A
Estimated Veterans: 10
Players to watch: Carter Cockburn (F), Alex Danis (F), Haydn Delorme (F)
Breakout Candidate: Jackson Betcher (F)
Coaches Outlook: “Our goal is to get better every day, every game. Fans should expect entertaining games from our group.” – Head Coach & General Manager, Barry Wolff
A look inside: After finishing in the top four of the league standings over the past two seasons, the Swan Valley Stampeders will look to continue that consistency in 2020-21. The Stamps’ graduated seven players but seem to have added a nice mix of youth and experience that will be at the disposal of Barry Wolff. They shouldn’t have to worry about who’s playing behind them every night with returning goaltender, Mikael Foucher back in the crease. Foucher was arguably one of the best goalies in the MJHL last season.
2019-20 Regular Season: 32-21-5-2
2020 Post Season: Trailed Swan Valley 2-1 in the first round at the time of shutdown
Top Returning Scorer: Jaymes Knee | 56GP – 19G – 39A
Estimated Veterans: 12
Players to watch: Jaymes Knee (F), Mackenzie Belinski (F), Conrad Phillips (F), Reagan Rabbit (D)
Breakout Candidate: Kieran Thiessen (F)
Coaches Outlook: “We want to win a championship and develop as people. Expect us to compete, compete, compete.” – Head Coach & General Manager, Taylor Harnett
A look inside: The Wolverines are coming off their second-best finish in franchise history and have the offensive pieces back in place to take another step in 2020-21. Harnett was busy in the offseason, acquiring a trio of defensemen with Junior A experience along with a pair of goaltenders. The key acquisition of the offseason for the Wolverines saw local product, Mackenzie Belinski join the fold. That acquisition along with another year of experience under the belt of their veterans players should give the Wolverines plenty of depth scoring.