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MJHL announces 5th annual Prospect Development Camp

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is proud to officially announce that the 5th annual MJHL Prospect Development Camp will take place in Winnipeg at the impressive Seven Oaks Arena Complex from July 14-18.

The Prospect Development camp is by invite only, geared towards current MJHL Prospects born in the years 2004 and 2005 who are eligible to play in the MJHL for the upcoming 2021/22 season.

“The MJHL Prospect Development Camp provides 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, and the platform to showcase themselves to coaches and scouts from all levels of hockey,” explained MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“This event continues to grow in stature, both on and off the ice, and we are excited to host this important league event once again this summer.  When you look across the MJHL right now, many current players have participated in this camp with many more having already moved on to higher levels of hockey through this camp and a year in the MJHL,” Saurette concluded.

The camp activities will emphasize the elements these players will need to focus on to transition successfully from elite minor hockey to elite Junior A hockey.

In addition to MJHL coaches / scouts, each year the Camp is highly attended (In-Person or Virtually) by scouts from higher levels of hockey including the WHL, USHL, NCAA, U Sports and the NHL, providing an amazing opportunity for players to further showcase their abilities.

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 skill and practice sessions along with modified games / scrimmages, 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.

The MJHL will continue to monitor and adjust to public health orders in lead up to the planned event in July.

Please stay tuned for upcoming camp announcements including Event Schedule and Rosters.

MJHL Podcast Feature | Justin Falk

MJHL Podcast Episode 27, featuring former Swan Valley Stampeders’ forward,  Justin Falk.

Justin joined the podcast to discuss growing up in small town Manitoba, his time in the MJHL, winning both the Memorial & Calder Cups’ and what his experience was like playing in the NHL.

For more, listen to the full MJHL Podcast interview hosted by Erik Swar.  The MJHL Podcast takes you inside the league each week with recaps, stories, interviews, rankings, and weekend previews. The MJHL Podcast is available on all major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Well… this sucks.

Watching other provinces make trades, skate and prep for games, it’s hard not to feel like the runt of the litter in this province.

The league did everything it could. Coaches, players, volunteers… everyone did EVERYTHING they could. It wasn’t good enough, apparently.

Now, we have to sit back and hear about how provinces are going above and beyond to get programs back up and running… while we just wait and hope for the fall of 2021.

It’s done. Nothing we can do about it now. It’s hard but we got to try and move on. It’s not fair and it’s frustrating. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to talk about it.

With that being said, the Takes today have to do with emotions.

  1. Happy.

I saw a trade where the Winkler Flyers moved a couple players, so they’d get a chance to play. I’ve heard from other teams and they too will be allowing players to go elsewhere for the remainder of the season and then have them come back.

That makes me happy. Kids getting to go play hockey, laugh and smile with teammates and have new hockey experiences.

  1. Angry.

Getting moved elsewhere not an option for all the players from this AND LAST YEAR!

20-year-olds last year had it taken away. 19-year-olds last year had it taken away and were told by the graduating players to win it for them in 2020-2021. For most, that can’t happen now.

The season was lost last year, and it cost the 20-year-olds their final season. With the province not lightening restrictions, it’s cost the 19-year-olds their second to last year AND their last year.

They wanted to play and win for their teammates and friends that had it taken away from them. Now, they’re in the same boat.

  1. Proper Frustration.

It’s so easy to be frustrated, angry and upset but it’s important to be educated on where that frustration needs to be placed. Take time to understand. Don’t just go off on social media because you’re ticked off.

I’ve seen some very well throughout posts and tweets on the subject from parents who have seen their kids change because of all of this. Their heartbroken, not because of a game but because of what the game meant to their kids.

  1. Sad.

I’ve talked to a number of 20-year-olds and as you can imagine, their crushed.

Hearing the outright sadness in their voices… I wish the decision makers could have heard from these guys directly. I think they would have understood a bit better, and it would have made a difference.

  1. Hungry.

It’s around lunch when I’m writing this, and I was thinking about food and that led to the businesses that get a boost from teams eating or staying at their establishments.

Business have suffered and this is just another kick. Teams often have their routine places. Bill’s Sticky Fingers in Portage. Boston Pizza in different towns. Local restaurants that stay open just to feed players after games.

They feel this league shutting down too.

  1. Angry, again.

Yup, still pretty upset about all of this.

Again, it’s about educating myself as to why. It’s got to be more than meets the eye but the league just did everything it could, and it was working. Volunteers were so safe. Players and staff went the extra mile.

At this moment, with all the other stuff allowed… I just don’t get it.

7 . Disappointment.

Little different from anger and for whatever reason, more impactful when you hear you’ve made someone not angry, but disappointed.

I’m disappointed not more is being made of these young men’s mental health. I talked with Mike Kehler, the pastor for the Pistons and other teams… he sees it firsthand.

These kids are struggling.

Mike and people like him are available. If you need to talk or you’ve noticed your kid, teammate, billet brother, family member, whomever is in need, reach out.

If you’re in need, coaches, teammates and friends will be there for you.

It’s okay to not be okay.

8 . Crushed.

I was lucky enough to talk with a good number of coaches this year doing Coach’s Convo and boy, they are sure going to miss having their group they had this year.

It’s crushing to think what could have been.

Every team was in it. Every team had a chance to make noise come playoff time.

  1. Optimistic.

As hard as is it to try and be positive, it’s all we can do. We have to try and look forward to a normal 2021-22 season.

The 19-year-olds from last year will carry with them the 20’s from this year and from the year before.

Fans will be allowed back in the stands. Business will support and the teams will show that love right back.

Volunteers who give their time will back in the rink with smiles on their faces.

New families will be in the MJHL. For some, it will be a whole new experience. For others, it’ll be appreciated so much more than perhaps ever before.

  1. Hope.

The league itself is in good hands.

Kevin Saurette managed through what will be the most disastrous event that will come his way. He managed it with class and a steadfast belief the league will survive.

There will be bumps but with Saurette at the helm, there are big things that will happen for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Erik Swar will continue to work behind the scenes, building the MJHL brand, focusing on players and celebrating the many accomplishments from former players who have moved on to other leagues and teams.

There’s a lot to be proud of and there’s a lot of hope for the MJHL going forward.

  1. Honored.

I’ve got to speak candidly with coaches and players. Parents and fans. Some have trusted me to tell their stories while others have trusted me to keep it between us.

Talking even just for a few seconds to people around the rink, you understand how much they all care. About the kids on the ice, the staff working behind the scenes… they care about the community represented on the crest.

It’s been an honor to meet so many amazing people and look forward to that continuing in the future.

  1. Thankful.

To you, reading this right now. You. Yes you. Without you… well, I’d still be talking but it would mean less.

To the Steinbach Pistons organization and every team across the MJHL who’ve let me speak with the coaches and players, getting a view into them as people.

To Kevin Saurette and Erik Swar for trusting in me to do something like this. When the idea was hatched, the plan was for much more hockey content. Not so much on books, movies or feelings… but here we are.

To people close to me, for being there when I’ve struggled through all of this. It means more than you know.

To the players past and current, boys… thank you.

Bonus. Promise.

I promise to continue doing my small part in building the players, the organization and the league going forward.

I love the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

MJHL Job Posting | Winkler Flyers Sales & Marketing

Job posting courtesy of Winkler Flyers.

The Winkler Flyers are looking for a new marketing manager to join the team on a full-time basis. The position requires an energetic, organized individual who’s passionate about junior hockey and the positive impact it can have on community.

The marketing manager is a full-time year-round position. Responsibilities include, but aren’t limited:

  • Sponsorship sales and partner relations
  • Social media and in-house content marketing (player profiles, interviews, features, etc.)
  • Game day operations

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to jjeanson@winklerflyers.com with the subject line Flyers Marketing Manager Application.

MJHL announces significant change to annual draft

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) announced today that the annual MJHL Draft will move from a U16 Draft (formerly Bantam Draft) to a U17 Draft highlighting players who are going into their 16-year-old season.

As a result, there will be no 2021 MJHL Draft with the current 2006-born draft eligible age-group carrying forward into the inaugural U17 MJHL Draft to be held in the spring of 2022.

Players who will be eligible for the MJHL Draft are Manitoba players who are registered to play hockey in Manitoba according to Hockey Manitoba regulations and are in their 16th year.

“Moving the draft eligible age group to a year older will give MJHL organizations the ability to watch players develop for an additional season to allow for a better understanding of that players continued development and potential to play elite junior hockey,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

The MJHL has conducted virtual MJHL Prospect Presentations over the past several months with the 2006 age-group.  These presentations have provided players and families with important information on what it takes to get to junior hockey and the significance of the MJHL being a strong pathway to the WHL, NCAA, U Sports and eventually professional hockey at the highest levels.

The MJHL is also currently in the planning process of including additional development and exposure events for the draft eligible age-group each season.  These events will compliment local league play in showcasing and educating players prior to each annual MJHL Draft.

Please stay tuned for further announcements in the coming weeks.

About the Manitoba Junior Hockey League

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is one of ten Junior ‘A’ Hockey Leagues in Canada and is a proud member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL).  The goal of the MJHL is to develop elite players and ultimately have them develop into elite citizens who make a positive contribution to their community – To provide fans, communities and supporters with the best possible hockey product through dedication to improvement in all areas of the game both on and off the ice.

Mission Statement

To provide each MJHL player with an elite hockey development experience with a strong emphasis on education and positive citizenship. To deliver exciting Junior ‘A’ hockey action to fans throughout the province and enhance Manitoba communities in the spirit of sports excellence and goodwill.

MJHL Podcast Feature | Reilly Funk

MJHL Podcast Episode 26, featuring former Portage Terriers forward,  Reilly Funk.

Reilly joined the podcast to discuss playing for his hometown in the MJHL, winning the Turnbull & ANAVET Cup, making the jump to the USHL and touches on what it took to earn an NCAA Division 1 scholarship to Northern Michigan.

For more, listen to the full MJHL Podcast interview hosted by Erik Swar.  The MJHL Podcast takes you inside the league each week with recaps, stories, interviews, rankings, and weekend previews. The MJHL Podcast is available on all major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

MJHL cancels remainder of 2020-21 competitive season

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) has made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the remainder of the competitive season which includes regular season games and playoffs.

After multiple discussions with Public Health, representatives of the Provincial Government, Facility Managers and Stakeholders, The MJHL Board of Governors have determined that the resumption and completion of the 2020-21 regular league / playoff season is not feasible due to current conditions.

It has become unrealistic to continue operating in a state of hope with so much uncertainty and no timeline provided. It is unfair to our athletes and staff, our community organizations who have been severely impacted financially and the communities / regions our organizations support and garner support from.

When hockey activities were paused as the entire Province moved to Code Red on November 12th, at no time did we not think or work tirelessly towards having the opportunity to resume our season safely. Return to Play scenarios were exhausted with Public Health to allow for a safe, responsible, balanced and financially feasible return to team activities.

This included the MJHL securing Hockey specific CCM Face Masks for on ice training along with demonstrated ability to safely manage our operations and extensive Return To Play Protocols from July to November 12, 2020.  MJHL teams completed 24 Prospect / Training Camps, 400+ On and Off-Ice Training Sessions and 60+ Games safely and responsibly during that time.

In the end, our advocacy efforts were not enough for Public Health to allow for a return to on ice team training activity, even in a non-contact, professionally managed, closed to public, distanced, 100% masked and extremely protected environment.

As a result, the Board of Governors see no reasonable prospect that future restrictions would be sufficiently altered, in time to allow for a feasible gradual return to Regular Season Play this season.

Moving forward, MJHL organizations will have the option to continue to provide Training / Development opportunities, exhibition games, etc. based on their individual circumstances and facility availability under current / updated Public Health Orders and Hockey Manitoba Directives.

Our athletes, staff, organizations, facilities and the entire MJHL community are to be commended for their efforts as they meticulously followed and executed the strict and extensive MJHL Protocols that were put in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved.  The MJHL Community were Return To Play leaders throughout the province and beyond and it is disappointing that we were not able to do so once again.  I would also like to recognize the entire Manitoba Minor Hockey Community who went above and beyond this season to ensure that the many benefits of organized hockey could be enjoyed in a safe and responsible environment.

The League and Member Organizations operational focus has now turned toward actively stabilizing our financial position, the continued advocacy for the safe and responsible return to on ice team training activities for all Players / Teams across the Province and planning for upcoming Team Training / Development Activities, Spring Camps, Prospect Camps, Events and Showcases.

The MJHL and each Member Organization will determine based on their own unique circumstances how they will proceed with their commitments to their stakeholders going forward.

I would like to personally thank all of our stakeholders for their commitment, patience and understanding during a very difficult and challenging season.

We are very grateful to our Communities, Billets, Sponsors, Supporters, Officials, Volunteers, League Staff, Team Staff and Players for their support and leadership in navigating through the very difficult challenges faced over this past year.

Although we are extremely saddened to make this announcement, we now look forward to the future as we prepare for bigger and better things for the 2021/22 season.

Kevin Saurette
Commissioner, Manitoba Junior Hockey League

Convo with the Coach | Taras McEwen

Over 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions, and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Taras McEwen – Head Coach, Winnipeg Blues

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

TM: I played a little bit, I played one-year Junior B. I kind of grew up in the game. My dad currently works for Vegas, my uncle worked for L.A, he just retired this year. My dad coached in the Western League, coached Junior A in Saskatchewan, so I grew up in the lifestyle, it’s something I’ve always done. Growing up, I always went to the rink. I was a water boy when I was young. Coaching was always something I wanted to do. The minute I finished school and finished playing, I got right into coaching. I was 21 when I started. Jr. B team in Ochapowace on the reserve in Saskatchewan. From there I went to Fort Knox, JR. B as a head coach then Notre Dame in Jr. A as an assistant coach so, it’s kind of something I’ve always wanted to do.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

TM: When you have someone that works in the game… my dads worked in the game his entire life. He’s always been a big supporter, I’ve talked to him about working or coaching in the game. I would work in the hockey schools when I was 14 or 15 years old, I wasn’t in them, but I was coaching them. Doing the video for the instructors. I’ve always had a passion for helping players achieve their best. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was young. I never saw myself as a player more just wanted to get into the game, work in the game as quickly as I could.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

TM: Some nerves. Some excitement. My first head coaching job, I was 24-year-old, I was a young guy, the youngest coach in Fort Knox’s history and one of the youngest coaches in the league ever. A lot of nerves but I was really excited and grateful for the opportunity. They have a real good program there and some really good people that run that. They gave me the opportunity to step up and be a head coach, they did a lot for my development as a coach, they gave me all the tools and the resources to move on. I was only with them one year before moving to Notre Dame, but that first time when you’re on the bench, there’s a lot of excitement, some flashbacks of what it took to get there… just a real positive experience.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

TM: I don’t have a least favorite. My one thing for practices, the drills that we do… as long as the drill has purpose for how we want to play the game, then I find it useful. I don’t like throwing a drill into a practice just to kill time. It has to have purpose, it has to represent the type of team we have, the way we wanna play and things we’re working on for game time. With some time now, we get to be creative and try some different things, we can make some things up on our own. As long as the drill has purpose and fits into what we’re doing, we can make any drill work.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

TM: When I was in Notre Dame, we had a young player Adam Dawe who played as a 17-year-old. He was an undersized player, he was a commit to Maine… that was my first real experience working with elite players. We also had Ben Duperreault, who we got back from the Western League as a 20-year-old. So, kind of both… one that comes down from the WHL and one going to NCAA Div 1, just to see both ends of it. It was real eye opening to see those two guys, their skill level. Adam is at Maine now, he’s so skilled, I’ve never seen a 17-year-old with a slight build, maybe 5″6, control a game. The SJHL can be rough and tough but he could just enter the zone, control, read the pressure. I was a special player to watch and a guy I’ll follow along with over the next couple years.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

TM: My dad. He’s the biggest impact. It’s pretty beneficial that we can talk every day or every second day. When the NHL wasn’t going, he was helping Melville with some coaching stuff. We’re always calling, bouncing back ideas… see how things are going in Saskatchewan and how things are going here… he’s the biggest influence. He’s been through it all. All the ups and the downs, he’s always around for a call to get some advice from.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

TM: Ben Duperrault, when I coached at Notre Dame, he was a Wilcox kid, he had a lot of energy when he came to the rink. He loved to practice, he had a real good work ethic and when you have kids like that, it’s fun to come to the rink and work with those guys. They are the types you want who come in and work, wanting to get to the next level. We had a lots of those types on that team which was a lot of fun. When they put in the work, it’s fun to watch the development.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

TM: Oh, that’s a good question. Probably the one team I watched a lot in the playoffs was Vancouver. I’ve been to Vancouver, I went for the World Juniors, it’s a great place to visit and it be a great place to live, they have a good young team and the NHL now, you need good young, drafted players to make up the core. They have it. Some of the guys they’ve added are really good, too. One of those teams I follow and watch what they’re doing.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

TM: (Laughs), that’s another good one… after a tough loss… whenever you have a tough loss, it’s never easy answering any question. You’re thinking about what you can do better, the video you need to go over… you just want to get back on the bus. Any question after a loss, you just wanna get back to work.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

TM: 50 Below, I started with them three years ago and they gave me the opportunity to take over as GM and then to coach, they give me every tool, every resource we need to help develop players. Our facility is world class for training our players. Our relationship with the Ice. We get to see so many great people around the rink every day. Always people around to pick their brains and learn from. It’s a real special thing their building here. They make sure the players have everything to help push them to the next level.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

TM: It’s a little different coming from small town Wilcox, Saskatchewan where there are 300 people in the town but people had told me that Winnipeg can feel like a small town and it kind of does. We always run into lots of people. You see people at the rink and their so supportive. They love hockey. It’s cold here and windy here just like Saskatchewan so that’s good, I enjoy it. People support the team, my family has loved it. It’s just a real positive.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

TM: Cooper Hatfield. We brought him in as an 18-year-old goalie last year and to see an 18-year-old goalie jump into a JR. A league, it doesn’t happen where they get a starting role but he did. He split time a bit but Cooper Hatfield… I thought he was one of the best goalies in the league last year, right there with (Matt) Lenz. This year, I think by far he’s the number one goalie. He can play at the next level. Some schools have talked to him and I think he’s one guy that deserves the praise. When you have a young team like we did last year, you’re working into your way and learning new ways and systems and Cooper kept us in every single game last year. The games in the playoffs against Steinbach were tight because of him. He’s a goalie that can go down south and play division one and in my mind, more people need to take notice of this guy.

MJHL Podcast Feature | Zach Whitecloud

MJHL Podcast Episode 25, featuring former Virden Oil Capitals defenceman, Zach Whitecloud.

Zach talks about his journey from the MJHL to the NHL where he currently plays for the Vegas Golden Knights. He dives deep into what specifically led to him finding success at each level.

For more, listen to the full MJHL Podcast interview hosted by Erik Swar.  The MJHL Podcast takes you inside the league each week with recaps, stories, interviews, rankings, and weekend previews. The MJHL Podcast is available on all major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Anyone else’s fingers and toes hurt from being crossed so long?

I’m not a doctor, expert or someone who’s opinion matters much, but I get the sense the next two weeks are going to determine whether the MJHL returns or not.

Here’s hoping we can get back to the rinks, the players can get back onto the ice and fans can go back to cheering for their teams.

As we continue to look for things to pass the time (the NHL’s all Canadian division sure is helping!), I’ve come up with some great reading options!

Believe it or not, I have quite the wide-ranging taste in literature. From hockey to baseball to wrestling. Even one or two that are not about sports!

Bet you didn’t think I’d be such a book worm. But I am, so here’s 12 books you should look into if you’re tv’d out.

1 – Burkes Law, written by Brian Burke with Stephen Brunt

Currently into this book and already being a big fan of Brian Burke, it just takes it to a whole new level. I love learning about behind the scenes things and this book really takes you into the war room of an NHL GM, told in the exact way you’d hope. Brian Burke style.

Burke always says, “I was a GM for 5 teams. No one else has ever done that. It’s not a record you want”. And while it’s not a record that most dream about, it sure does lead to some very interesting stories.

2 – Yankee Years, written by Joe Torre and Jon Verducci

The New York Yankees were the first real dynasty I remember. Going from a scrappy, hardworking team to the “Evil Empire”, this is a fascinating journey told by one of the greatest managers in sports. It’s not fluff, it’s a real, in-depth look at what it took to build the Yankees and even more so, what it took to keep them on top, at all costs.

3 – Bret Hart: My Real Life In The Cartoon World Of Wresting , written by Bret Hart

Who didn’t love Bret Hart? He was the first true Canadian hero I can remember. Yes, I also thought wresting was real. To the “Hitman”, it was real too.

This is a book that is brutally and at times, painfully honest. It tears down not just the curtain of wrestling but of a man that millions looked up too. It makes him more human and relatable. In the end, more respected.

He lives up to his billing, “The Best There Is, The Best There Was And The Best There Ever Will Be”.

Getting old Stampede Wrestling stories and Andrea The Giant tales are classic.

4 – I’d Trade Him Again, written by Terry McConnell & J’Lyn Nye with Peter Pocklington

I stumbled across this book at a local charity book sale and THANK GOODNESS because it’s quickly become one of my favorite books.

Learning more about “Peter Puck” is neat but the details of the Wayne Gretzky trade, that’s where it’s really at. We’ve all seen documentaries and heard stories but there’s a few gems in here that even hardcore hockey fans maybe don’t know.

Peter’s life was amazing. He did good things; he did some not so good things. Love him or hate him, you’ll see him in a whole new light after reading this. Get it. You won’t be disappointed.

5 – Quinn, written by Dan Robson

When I think of Pat Quinn, I think of the man standing behind the Toronto Maple Leafs bench with two black, black eyes.

He was an intimidating figure. A legendary presence. He also had a soft side and loved the game of hockey. Much like time does, this humanizes him to the point you respect him so much more.

6 – Francona, written by Terry Francona and Dan Shulman

In a similar fashion to “The Yankee Years”, this book takes us behind the scenes of the Boston Red Sox through the wonderful eyes of Tito.

I love learning about how teams are built and then learning why for whatever reason they were destroyed. Coaches and managers know what it’s like but for us fans, we rarely get a true understanding of the daily grind, the pressure, the expectation and at times the sheer luck it takes to win.

7 – Game Misconduct, written by Russ Conway

Alan Eagleson.

Ring any bells? For some hockey fans, it brings up a painful side of the game many wishes would just be forgotten. I first got my hands on this book from the Dauphin public library and despite hating numbers (I’m the worst at math. Numbers are hard), this book explains the crookedness of Eagleson in a way that’s easy to understand.

He’s a thief. He robbed from many people, including Bobby Orr.

He got away with it for so long and maybe always would have. The game changed because of Eagleson, both in good ways and some very, very bad.

8 – Phil Esposito: Thunder and Lightning, written by Phil Esposito and Peter Golenbock

My all-time favorite player: Phil Esposito. Man, what a great way to learn about the ’72 Summit Series, his trade from Chicago to Boston then Boston to the Rangers and so many hilarious stories in-between.

Did you know he founded the Tampa Bay Lightning then got screwed over? He’ll tell you all about it in typical “Espo” fashion.

You will never guess what he was doing the morning of the first game of the Summit Series. Oh… and he and Cashman… well, get the book and find out what they did or didn’t do.

9 – Faithful, written by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King

This is a unique one because it’s written journal style by two men who loved the Boston Red Sox.

Yes, Stephen King is THAT Stephen King. The King of Horror himself is a diehard Sox fan and the year they finally broke the curse, he keeps a journal detailing his thoughts on games and situations around the team.

It’s something sports fans often think and wish they wrote down, well these guys did and it’s very much amazing.

10 – Steve Dangle: This Team Is Ruining My Life (And I Love Them), written by Steve Dangle

From mom and dad’s house to Youtuber to guy you see on Sportsnet plugging in a light and yelling “It’s ON”, Steve Dangle is as inspiring as he is loud.

He started by doing video’s titled Leafs Fan Reaction and turned his tiny YouTube channel into one heck of a career. While he is a diehard (and loud) Leafs fan, his story is something that many can inspire too, not just in hockey but in life.

If you’re passionate and you work hard and yell (okay, maybe don’t yell like HE yell’s), your dreams can come true.

11 – Blood Feud, Detroit Red Wings vs Colorado Avalanche: The inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry written by Adrian Dater

Not going to lie, I bought this book for a friend and I never gave it to him.

I skimmed it at first and liked it so much, I ended up getting him something totally different and kept it for myself.

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the earliest dynasties I remember is the Yankees but one of the rivalries I remember is the Avs and the Wings.

My goodness, did they hate each other. This book has so much detail to it. How it built layer upon layer for months and years.

There may never be another battle like these two teams and I’m sure the NHL is perhaps happy about that.

12 – Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, written by Major Dick Winters.

I love this book and I had to include it for anyone who may of heard of Band of Brothers or simply wants to read the story of a true War Hero.

It was a very different time back then and Major Dick Winters was a hero among heroes. He shares stories in his words, his firsthand accounts of battles we’ve only read about or seen on tv.

He shares the stories of men whom history may have overlooked, and he provides inspiration for a generation going forward.

If there’s one book on this list I recommend you get, it’s this one.

How Zach Whitecloud became a NHL mainstay

Story courtesy of Las Vegas Sun

The extent to which Zach Whitecloud’s game has evolved was never more evident than on Jan. 18, the third game of this season. The Golden Knights led by a goal late against the Arizona Coyotes. They had just taken a penalty, setting up a 6-on-4 with the game on line.

And there was Whitecloud, the 24-year-old Vegas defenseman, one of the four players asked to defend the lead. He did, helping the Golden Knights keep the puck out of the net until they could score an empty-netter. Vegas won 4-2.

“He deserved to be out there,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said after the game. “He’s a guy we’re not afraid to put out in situations like that late in a game.”

This is a player who went to college with the intent of getting a degree instead of turning pro, and who went almost two years between NHL call-ups. And he was never regarded as one of the Golden Knights’ top prospects.

He made his league debut a few months shy of three years ago, a month out of college and not knowing what was coming next. Now, Whitecloud has a key role on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, playing more than he ever has, and better than he ever has.

But he wants to make one thing clear.

“The person hasn’t changed,” Whitecloud said. “The person hasn’t changed at all. I’m still that small-town kid from Manitoba who just always stays humble and hard-working, and making sure I’m a good teammate first.”

Whitecloud is humble, deferential, confident and eager all at the same time. That helps explain his journey to the NHL.

Leaving Canada

Whitecloud was an alternate captain in 2015 with the Virden Oil Capitals of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He had a strong season but was running out of junior eligibility and didn’t know what was next.

The logical step for a future NHL player in Canada is to play major-junior, which in Whitecloud’s case would have been the Western Hockey League. Whitecloud admits major-junior wasn’t right for him, as he would take more time to develop than would be possible in a league with an age cap of 20.

He said he didn’t start turning into a potential future pro until he was about 19 or 20. For players like that, NCAA hockey starts looking attractive.

“For me and where I was at in my development, going to school and getting four years of that done was the ideal situation,” Whitecloud said. “If hockey didn’t work out then I was able to get a degree in the meantime and go on with my life from there.”

Of course, hockey did work out.

But he didn’t know that when he sent a highlight tape to colleges in the U.S., and didn’t know it would catch the eye of a coach in a small college town in Minnesota.

Tom Serratore for 19 years has run a successful if not blue-blood program at Bemidji State University. The list of the Beavers’ NHL alumni is not long, but does include former Golden Knight Brad Hunt. Serratore saw Whitecloud’s tape and knew he was onto something.

“I vividly remember,” Serratore said. “We didn’t overthink it.”

Serratore and assistant coach Ted Belisle, now a scout with the Los Angeles Kings, went to Manitoba to see Whitecloud, and left him with a scholarship offer. Serratore and his staff were surprised to find that it was the only scholarship offer Whitecloud had received, and they got him on campus that summer.

Whitecloud arrived in Bemidji in 2016, and neither he nor the coaching staff knew what to expect. He didn’t think he’d play much that first year, but almost immediately became a mainstay in the Beavers’ lineup.

“It didn’t take us more than a practice or two to realize this kid’s a heck of a hockey player,” Serratore said. “Right there you could see he was a pro prospect.”

He ended the year on the WCHA’s All-Rookie Team and suddenly everyone knew who he was. He attended the Kings’ development camp that summer and by the time his sophomore year arrived, he was running out the clock on turning pro.

“It exceeded my expectations, and I think the coaching staff’s as well,” Whitecloud said. “They didn’t expect me to leave after two years and nor did I. Some things aren’t set in stone ever.”

Life as a professional

After that sophomore season, Whitecloud and his agent, Dean Grill,o met in Minnesota to figure out the next move.

He had no shortage of options, including an old family acquaintance from back home. When Whitecloud was growing up in Brandon, Manitoba, the biggest team in town was the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, who were owned and coached by a name familiar to Golden Knights fans.

Kelly McCrimmon, then the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager and now general manager, kept close tabs on Whitecloud even before his college career began: the Wheat Kings and the Whitecloud family partnered to billet players in the organization.

Once Whitecloud left for college, McCrimmon made sure to scout him in person.

“We’re not a team that targets a large number of college free agents — we keep our range of players pretty small,” McCrimmon said. “And that year Zach was the guy that we really wanted to sign.”

When Whitecloud did turn pro, McCrimmon and the Knights were one of several teams to offer him a contract. Whitecloud admits it wasn’t an easy decision, having never been to Las Vegas. But the pitch was enough, and Whitecloud signed an entry-level deal five days after the Bemidji State season ended in 2018.

“They created a culture in the first year that really embodied the things that I like to pride myself on,” Whitecloud said. “There were a lot of different things that attracted me to Vegas.”

Some players come right out of college ready for the NHL. Whitecloud wasn’t that, though with a caveat. He did play an NHL game the same year he left college, but it was near the end of the season after Vegas’ postseason fate was already locked up. He did not appear in the playoffs.

He also didn’t appear back with Vegas the next season. He spent the entirety of 2018-19 in the American Hockey League with the Chicago Wolves, helping them reach the Calder Cup Finals. He spent most of the next year in Chicago, too.

“He was a pro early on, in that he really wanted to absorb as much information as he could and at times we had to kind of pump the brakes,” former Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said. “Guys like him who I’ve had the experience of working with, they find a way to get to that next level, and he did.”

Thompson, now an assistant with the division rival Sharks, liked how Whitecloud played with the puck, particularly the way he broke out of the defensive zone and set up plays on the other end. He called his defensive game “a big-time work in progress,” pointing to playing hard in front of the net and without the puck on his stick.

Once that game started to develop, Whitecloud got dangerous. He had six goals in 22 assists in the 2018-19 regular season, fourth on the team with 28 points. His plus-39 rating led the AHL this season, as did his 12 assists and 15 points in the postseason.

His primary partner that season with the Wolves was Nicolas Hague. And when Hague made his season debut with Vegas on Jan. 18, he was paired once again with Whitecloud.

“We’ve had chemistry in the past, so just trying to pick up where we left off,” Hague said.

Becoming an NHL mainstay

Feb. 1, 2020, was a big day for Whitecloud, playing 13 minutes, 34 seconds of ice time for Vegas in a win against the Nashville Predators. It was an otherwise ordinary game, but it was when Whitecloud became a full-time NHL player. He stuck with the Golden Knights the rest of the year, appearing in 16 games, and hasn’t been back to the AHL since.

He not only went to the postseason bubble with the Golden Knights, but was an integral part of the lineup — Vegas more or less chose Whitecloud over veteran Deryk Engelland, and he didn’t disappoint. He played in all 20 games, averaging a shot on goal per game and scoring two goals to help Vegas reach the Western Conference Final.

“I thought he was awesome for us in the playoffs and (it was good) seeing a young guy coming into his own,” said Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez, who was traded to the Golden Knights a few weeks after Whitecloud’s call-up. “I’ve been impressed with him since the moment I got here. He just keeps on getting better.”

Whitecloud spent most of his time last season paired with Nick Holden, whom he called “the biggest influence in my pro career so far.” Holden, who at 33 is nine years Whitecloud’s senior, took on the role of veteran mentor from the moment Whitecloud arrived.

They played together in the playoffs, where their one rule was to always make a positive impact on the game. They’re not always going to score or break up an odd-man rush coming at their net. But if they can do the little things right every time out, that adds up to big things.

“That’s something that I’m going to carry throughout my whole career,” Whitecloud said. “The way he treats his teammates and how he treated me as a younger guy, kind of how he looked after me and helped me learn how to be a really good pro, and how to treat younger guys when I get to be one of the older guys on the team. That’s a big life lesson for me.”

Holden isn’t playing much right now, a victim of Vegas’ salary cap crunch and the continued development of younger defensemen like Whitecloud and Hague. He’s on the Vegas taxi squad this season, so he’s still around for practices and road trips.

And he’s still mentoring Whitecloud. The pride in his voice is evident as he speaks about his protégé.

“It’s awesome to see his development, and I think so far this year he’s probably been our best defenseman,” Holden said. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”

2021 and beyond

Whitecloud is squarely fixed into the Golden Knights’ future plans. He signed a two-year extension before the playoffs last year, and will become a restricted free agent after the 2021-22 season. There’s little doubt Vegas will look to keep him around, especially if he continues the growth he’s shown in the early part of this season.

It’s clear watching him that he’s a different player than he was last year. He’s more confident, more aggressive, and shooting at a rate he hadn’t yet previously in his young career. He’s generating scoring chances and becoming more of a two-way threat than he was even in the postseason.

“I think the biggest thing in my game is one, the aggressiveness, but not being afraid to make mistakes out there,” Whitecloud said. “When I first came up, you kind of go through those plays and you don’t want to, per se, mess up. But now I play to make those plays and if I mess up, it happens.”

The points haven’t come yet. Through seven games he has just one assist and no goals, but no one seems to be too worried about that. All of his coaches — college, minor and current — think the offense will come as he continues to grow. It seems like he’s been around forever, but if including the playoffs, Whitecloud has only skated 44 times in a Golden Knights uniform.

Whitecloud isn’t the same player he was in junior hockey in Manitoba. He’s not the same player he was in college in Bemidji, in Chicago, or even last season in Vegas.

But as he said, he’s still the same person. He’s polite in interviews, he shows off a genuine exuberance to be playing hockey, looking simultaneously that he’s awed to be in the NHL but also that he belongs.

That was evident during a stretch to close the game against Arizona in the first of what could be other notable moments for Whitecloud as a fixture with the Golden Knights.

Convo with the Coach | Tyson Ramsey

Over 12 weeks, we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions, and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Tyson Ramsey – Virden Oil Capitals

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

TR: Yes, I did play.  Played minor hockey in my hometown of Dominion City.  Then played a year with the Pembina Valley Hawks AAA U18.  Was drafted by the Winkler Flyers and spent four seasons there.  Then went on to play four seasons with the Brandon University Bobcats in the CIS while finishing my education degree.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

TR: When I was done playing CIS, one of our assistant coaches asked me to help with his son’s peewee team.  From there I went on to help with the AAA bantam program in Brandon and from there to the AAA U18 program in Brandon.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

TR: I remember being nervous but also very excited. When you finish playing you miss the competitive atmosphere the most and I found coaching was something that replaced that for me, so it was very, very exciting to step behind the bench and help young players get better.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

TR: I have a couple favourites but one that comes to mind is one we did while I was playing for the Bobcats called the neutral zone stretch drill.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

TR: I don’t know if I have one that I’ve made that stands out as the absolute best move.  All of the player personnel moves that we make are ones that make sense for our club at the time, or we wouldn’t make them.  There are lots of things to think about when making these moves and it can get stressful, as you are dealing with human beings and at the end of the day you want what’s best for these guys at the same time doing what is right for your hockey club.  Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t end up making.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

TR: I would say the biggest influence would be my dad.  He played at a high level and spent a number of years coaching at various levels.  He is where me and my brother acquired our passion for this game and to this day there are many discussions between the 3 of us that revolve around the game.  Some of them heated haha.  (My dad actually played a bit for the Steinbach Huskies)

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

TR: There are so many.  I have been very, very fortunate to have been involved with so many great players in my coaching career to this point, both male and female.  In fact, some of the most gratifying moments in my coaching career have been in the female program.  The girls are so much fun to coach.

I guess if I had to pick one player that stands out, it would be a defenceman by the name of Kyle Hamm.  He was the first-round pick of the first peewee team I coached, and he was a great player but what stood out to me the most is how much he loved the game and what a great teammate he was.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

TR: The Detroit Red Wings, they have been my favourite team since I was young and would love the opportunity to work with Steve Yzerman.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

TR: How I feel after a tough loss.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

TR: I just really enjoy working with the people involved in the organization here in Virden.  They are very, very passionate about the game and about doing everything possible to bring a championship the community.  It is a pleasure coming to the rink every day, no matter how the team is playing on the ice.  The people here are tremendous and they work hard.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

TR: Virden is a great place to live and raise your family.  The community has been very welcoming to me and my family and we are very happy here.  The fan base, billet group and business community is extremely supportive and they do an enormous amount to help this team thrive.  They deserve a hard-working hockey club that is dedicated to the community and when this organization wins a championship it will be an amazing feeling to have this community to share it with.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

TR: I’m going to give you 2 because I think they are very much the same in that they are great players but go about their business in a quiet manner. Jack Einarson and Brett Paddock.  They have both become 2 of the best players in the league in the last couple seasons and they work very hard day in and day out.  They don’t require attention or accolades, they just care very much about their team and achieving success here in Virden.

MJHL Podcast Feature | Riese Gaber

MJHL Podcast Episode 24, featuring former Dauphin Kings/Steinbach Pistons forward, Riese Gaber.

After being named USHL Player of the Year with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Riese advanced to play at the NCAA Div.1 level at the University of North Dakota.

Riese is an MJHL Turnbull Cup and Anavet Cup champion during his time with the Steinbach Pistons.

For more, listen to the full MJHL Podcast interview hosted by Erik Swar.  The MJHL Podcast takes you inside the league each week with recaps, stories, interviews, rankings, and weekend previews. The MJHL Podcast is available on all major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

MJHL Podcast returns for weekly episodes

The MJHL Podcast officially returns in 2021 to all podcasting platforms on Thursday, January 28 following a 23 episode stint during the 2019-20 season.

The MJHL Podcast takes you inside the league each week with recaps, stories, interviews, rankings, and weekend previews.

Every Thursday throughout the MJHL season, host Erik Swar will conduct interviews with MJHL players, coaches, staff and alumni, plus provide recaps and discuss the weekly buzz surrounding the MJHL. The MJHL Podcast is available on all major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and more.

Missed out on and interview from 2019-20? Listen to all 23 episodes here.

Convo with the Coach | Kelvin Cech

Over 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Kelvin Cech – Head Coach, Winkler Flyers

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

KC: I grew up in rural Alberta, just outside Edmonton. I played minor hockey, basically like every other kid from around there. Once that was over, I went to school in Edmonton and played a little bit of college hockey, which is a bit mis-leading… I watched the team play from the bench more than I actually played. Those were the years my coach Jim MacLean told me I was a better coach than a player, in no uncertain terms. So, I wrapped up my playing career and got into coaching as school was wrapping up. And here we are now.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

KC: I actually started working at hockey academy’s right when I was done, so I did a lot of skill development as I was finishing my degree. I coached U13 and U15 then I moved from Edmonton to Vancouver and coached major midget for four years. I then went and got an assistant job with the University of British Columbia and that lead me to Winkler last year.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

KC: I remember it really well. I made a point to make sure that I internalized that moment. When I first left Edmonton, my dad got me a cake that said “The Journey Continues”, which is a little bit of a joke because I don’t think either of us had heard of Winkler, Manitoba before I interviewed for the job there. So, after I got that cake, I actually got it tattooed on my arm. So, when I was standing on the bench for the first game, I had my thumb on the tattoo on my arm. I was listening to the anthem in Winkler and it was just a cool experience. Afterwards, I went to the office after a loss against Paul Dyck’s Steinbach Pistons and my parents were in the office waiting for me. I didn’t know they were coming. It was a cool experience and one I’ll never forget.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

KC: I gravitate towards whatever the players like or dislike. We do a lot of back-checking drills but they dislike those for obvious reasons, but we keep doing them because they’re important. My favorite is a game we call 3-zone-hockey. So, what happens is, it’s 3 on 3 in each zone. The puck is always going in the same direction for each team. So, three guys try to pass from the defensive zone into the neutral zone, the neutral zone guys try and pass into the offensive zone and then the other teams going in reverse. We do that whenever we have time, it takes a lot of time. The guys rotate and the guys love it. I’ve done this before with other teams and it didn’t go off as well, so I didn’t like it so much but with this Flyers team, the last year and a half, that’s our favorite.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

KC: There’s two. The first getting Jaden Townsend. He was in Swan Valley for basically his whole career until he was traded out of province. We still believe and I still bring it up with him, I think Swan would have won that game 7 against Portage a couple years back if ‘Towney’ was playing but he had a broken leg. Getting him back in Manitoba, he would eventually become our captain and that was enormous. He still helps out with the coaching, would come to games when we had games and he’s just an incredible human being. As far as trades go, it was a really steep price to pay but getting Garrett Szeremley to come home, we got him from Waywayseecappo. He’s from Morden and he’s had a huge impact on our team. He says some weird stuff and he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

KC: I’ve been thinking about this. There’s been a lot of people who’ve helped along the way but recently, it be Sven Butenschon, who I spent three years with at UBC as his assistant coach. The biggest thing was the confidence he gave me that I could do this professionally. Sven played 17 years of professional hockey. He didn’t like talking about it much but as we got closer of the years, I got some cool stories. He played for some amazing coaches and had experiences all over the world playing. He was so down to earth, treated the players great and he gave me the confidence to come to Winkler and run a Junior A program.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

KC: Griffen Leonard. Griffen is another kid that was a guy who was close to everyone while he was here in Winkler. He’s a positive, passionate kid. Fantastic leader. The guys all loved him, looked up to him. He was the guy that wasn’t afraid to push other players as well. He doubled his point totals every year in Winkler. Last year, in my first year, after Christmas he really took off, he really realized how effective he could be all over the ice. He was on power play and penalty kill, big faceoff guy, too. Now he’s down south going to school. He was a funny guy, worked his butt off, set a great example and was the glue that held that team together.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

KC: The obvious answer for me would be my hometown Edmonton Oilers. It would be a lot of fun to coach that kind of top end talent in McDavid and Draisaitl. But, that’s a bit of a copout, that might be a little too easy, so I’ll go with my new adoptive hometown team, the Winnipeg Jets. I’ve heard some awesome stories about Blake Wheeler and his leadership from a couple of Jets coaches over the years. Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey, the leadership they show, it just sounds like a great organization to work for.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

KC: I’ve talked a lot about this with Kevin Pauls, who does our broadcasting and he’s really talented but he wants details. I like that he pushes me on that. I like talking about the game and I do probably talk too much. But the question I like the least is how could you lose four in a row while leading in all the games and why are you still on a four-game losing streak. If he’s asking questions like that, then things are not going well. It’s not his fault but those are the kinds of questions that are not fun to answer.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

KC: First and foremost, it’s the people I’ve been surrounded by since day one. My general manager Jeff Jeanson who reached out and gave me the opportunity to come here. Him and I along with head scout Mike McAulay, our overall vision is pretty aligned, doesn’t mean we don’t argue every other week but we still keep encouraging each other to have our opinions and we’re not always going to agree but, those two for sure. Kerry Wilson, our trainer who’s done basically 99% of jobs you can do for a Junior A hockey team. For me, it’s all about the people I get to work with on a daily basis.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

KC: This was a tough question to answer. I was in my first-year last year and it’s obviously very busy so I’m either in the rink or at my house. Now, I’m just stuck in my house. So, I haven’t had a lot of interaction with the community. The thing I love best is just how loud it gets in the rink. I remember well, Everett Bestland scored one of the nicest goals you’ve ever seen in your life, last year. He burnt a kid in the neutral zone, it was such an impressive move and the crowd reacted so much… I think they were louder on the move then when he went down and scored. That and how loud the crowd gets when there is a fight. People in Winkler love their physical hockey.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

KC: If you polled everyone in our dressing room, I think they’d all say the same guy. Jackson Arpin. Second year player for us, he’s 19, he came in last year at maybe 160 lbs, tall kid and he put in a lot of work over the summer. I think he added 30lbs of muscle. He doesn’t have the flashy stats, which is usually what gets the attention in this day and age, but he’s such an important two-way player for us, always on the right side of the puck and he may actually be to coachable. He’s come in and earned a letter as an Assistant Captain. He’s a special player and special person. I wish that everyone would give him the attention like he gets from our dressing room.

MJ-SJ Showcase provides elite exposure opportunities

In a typical season, players and staff from across the MJHL would currently be in preparations for the annual MJHL/SJHL Showcase.

The joint showcase event between the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) has been held annually in January since 2018. The three-day event provides high performance exposure in front of NHL, NCAA, WHL, USHL and U SPORTS scouts.

A total of six teams compete in the showcase event, with three teams from both the MJHL and SJHL.  All teams are selected by the showcase coaching staff of their respective leagues forming one 18U roster and two 20U rosters.

Since its inception in 2018, 70+ MJHL athletes who participated in the MJHL/SJHL Showcase have committed to high profile NCAA Programs, U Sports Programs and Major Junior Programs across Canada and the United States.

Click here to see who has advanced their hockey career after playing in the MJHL/SJHL Showcase for Team MJHL.

Convo with the Coach | Ken Pearson

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Ken Pearson – Neepawa Natives

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

KP: I played minor hockey in Neepawa from the age of 5-15, began coaching junior at age of 21. Worked as a regional scout for NHL Central Scouting for 8 years. Played 5 seasons beginning in 1989 with the Neepawa Natives.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

KP: During my 20-year-old season an injury started me on the road to coaching.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

KP: Plenty of emotion haha

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

KP: Favorite would be any one-on-one drill.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

KP: I think there are a few but in 2005-06 season when with the Winnipeg South Blues, traded for forward David Segal from the Melfort Mustangs he was a throwback type player and something we were really missing on our team, we won the MJHL that year.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

KP: Don McGillivray, he coached me when I was 20, then I was his assistant the next two seasons in Neepawa and one in Prince Albert.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

KP: Again, there are a few, but Kevin Clark and Brendan Cook would be at the top of list.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

KP: Tampa Bay, I love the city and area! Go Rays!

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

KP: What do you think you needed to do different tonight and why didn’t you do it?

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

KP: It is the organization I grew up with and gave me my first opportunity as a coach.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

KP: It is my hometown. I love being around family and friends I haven’t been able to see much in 25+ years as a coach/gm.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

KP: Rylan Gudnason

MJHL alumni named to NHL rosters

Six Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) alumni were named to National Hockey League (NHL) rosters on Wednesday as the NHL opened their 2021 regular season schedule.

Zach Whitecloud (D) – Vegas Golden Knights 
MJHL: Virden Oil Capitals 2014-16
MJHL Accolades: MJHL Second All-Star Team
NCAA D1: Bemidji State Beavers

Hailing from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Whitecloud enters his first full NHL season after logging significant minutes for the Golden Knights during the 2020 postseason. Zach earned a scholarship to Bemidji State while playing in the MJHL, where he would go on to play two seasons as a Beaver before signing his first professional contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. Whitecloud was named to the Golden Knights opening night roster for the 2021 season.

Cole Smith (F) – Nashville Predators
MJHL: Steinbach Pistons 2014-16
MJHL Accolades: MJHL Finalist
NCAA D1: University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks 2016-20

A native of Brainerd, Minnesota, Smith spent two seasons playing north of the border in the MJHL with the Steinbach Pistons where his play earned him a scholarship to the University of North Dakota. Following four years with the Fighting Hawks at the NCAA D1 level, Smith signed his first professional contract with the Nashville Predators in the summer of 2020. Smith was named to their opening night lineup, making his NHL debut on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Brady Keeper (D) – Florida Panthers 
MJHL: OCN Blizzard 2014-17
MJHL Accolades: 2x MJHL First All-Star Team, MJHL Top Defenseman, MJHL MVP
NCAA D1: Maine Black Bears 2017-19

A three-year member of the OCN Blizzard, Brady Keeper accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Maine Black Bears where he would go on to star for two seasons. Keeper’s play garnered major NHL interest and after just two seasons as a Black Bear, he signed his first professional contract with the Florida Panthers where he finds himself today. The Pimicikamak Cree Nation member will start the 2021 season on the Florida Panthers Taxi Squad.

Wyatt Kalynuk (D) – Chicago Blackhawks
MJHL: Virden Oil Capitals 2013-14
MJHL Accolades: MJHL All-Rookie Team, Canada Western U17
USHL: Lincoln/Bloomington 2014-17
NCAA D1: Wisconsin Badgers 2017-20

Playing in one season for his hometown Virden Oil Capitals, Kalynuk excelled as 16-year-old on the blueline and the hockey world took notice. The Manitoban would make the jump to the USHL where he would spend the next three seasons before he earned a scholarship to play for the Wisconsin Badgers. After three seasons at the collegiate level, Kalynuk chose to forego his senior season and sign his first professional contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Kalynuk was named to the Blackhawks Taxi Squad.

Travis Zajac (F) – New Jersey Devils
MJHL: St. James Canadians 2001-02
NCAA D1: University of North Dakota 2004-06

A long-time member of the New Jersey Devils, Travis Zajac spent his first year of Junior hockey in the MJHL with the now defunct St. James Canadians. Following a trade to the BCHL, Zajac would suit up for two seasons at the University of North Dakota before embarking on a 15-year professional career in the NHL with the Devils.

Travis Hamonic (D) – Vancouver Canucks
MJHL: Winnipeg Saints 2006-07
WHL: Moose Jaw Warriors/Brandon Wheat Kings 2007-10

Hamonic received his first taste of junior hockey in the MJHL with the Winnipeg Saints (Virden Oil Capitals). After 32 games of Junior A, Hamonic would go on to play nearly 200 games in the WHL between Moose Jaw and Brandon. Hamonic suited up with Canada’s National Team at the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2010 before embarking on an 11-year professional career between the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames and now, Vancouver Canucks.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

Oh 2021, how good it is to see you. You bring hope for the hockey season to resume. You bring optimism to players, coaches and fans alike.

That’s a lot to pin on a year but why not? As January drags on, I feel the growing need for MJHL hockey on all levels and while keeping health and safety at the forefront, I sure hope we manage to get the season in for the 20-year-olds who graduated last year having not finished a season. Not having a proper goodbye to teammates and fans. I wish that on no one who’s ever put on an MJHL team jersey.

With that in mind, let’s get back on the positive train.

WHEN the season can resume, let’s look at 12 players that I think are primed for a big 2021 and just for fun, let’s throw in a bold prediction, too!

1) Dauphin – Charles Massey

This 20-year-old from Quebec stormed out of the gate for the Kings putting up an impressive 7 goals and 3 assists through six games. In speaking earlier this year with 730 CKDM’s Darnell Duff, Massey said “I’m honestly a little bit surprised with my production. With that said, I have always known that I could get it done when I focus and play my game. “This is a great league and it’s extremely competitive. I wasn’t expecting to score as much as I have, but I’m certainly happy that I’ve been able to help this team win games.”

Should be said Massey is also a big Minnesota Vikings fan. He’s hoping the Kings have better luck.

Bold Prediction: Massey leads the Dauphin Kings in points. He gets a number of NCAA Division one offers and any time he’s asked in the future, he’ll make mention of the Kings organization and the people of Dauphin for helping him get to where he is.

2) Neepawa – Rylan Gudnason

The pride of Killarney, Manitoba, the 19-year-old had lit the lamp 5 times in just nine games and showed no signs of slowing down when the pause hit.

While having success on the ice, Rylan has also been boosted by having his brother Cody play with Neepawa this year. The two have a strong bond and it’s great for the family, much easier for them to watch games as Rylan explained to the Brandon Sun.

He also said there is a little rivalry between the brothers. “”It’s all about who’s getting more points, who’s doing this and who’s doing that, that’s always fun,” Rylan said.

Rylan – 5 goals, 1 assist for 6 points. Cody – 1 assist. Rylan has the upper hand for now.

Rylan also happens to be an excellent violinist. Check it out here, he’s got skills on and off the ice! https://pl-pl.facebook.com/neepawanatives/videos/the-kid-has-talent-rylan-gudnason-is-in-the-house-charlie-daniels-has-nothing-on/408158566773702/

Bold Prediction: Rylan continues to lead his brother in the scoring race and will have triple the amount of points Cody does, (Cody will get revenge down the road when he breaks Rylan’s season high in points).

3) OCN – David Queree

This is more of a personal pick because I’m a big fan of both David Queree the hockey player and David Queree the person.

It’s never easy coming to a whole new team let alone a whole new province but that’s what David did last season and it didn’t take long for his infectious smile, personality and work ethic to come through.

Getting traded is also never an easy process but David saw it as an opportunity for a bigger role and he has grabbed it with both hands. 5 points in 6 games for OCN while piling up 0, yes ZERO penalty minutes despite seeing a lot of ice, shows David was on the cusp of a major statement when the pause came into effect.

The Blizzard are hoping that his production continues and he also continues to grow as a leader on the ice, in the room and in the community.

I hope he’s happy.

Bold Prediction: David continues his strong play for the OCN Blizzard and is named the team MVP. He helps the Blizzard push their first-round opponent to the brink. David appears on tv in later life wearing a Blizzard hat as he wins a major poker tournament.

4) Portage – Parker Johnson

It seemed like a quiet deal on October 22nd when the Terriers picked up Johnson from Swan Valley but Johnson has been anything but quiet on the ice.

Coming off a 21-point season last year which included 10 goals, he’s on pace to smash that. He already piled up 4 goals in his first 7 games. For a Portage team that struggled to score goals, he’s been a real shot in the arm.

Blake Spiller may have found another gem and expect to see Parker Johnson on the scoresheet a lot when play picks back up.

Bold Prediction: Johnson leads Portage in goals and points. He leads Portage in playoff scoring as they get to the MJHL Semi-Finals.

5) Selkirk – Adam Ingram

Trades are always hard to judge. Fans instantly want to pick a winner and a loser. Often times, they’re judged on who got the best player in the deal at that moment.

When Selkirk traded Brett Namaka to Portage, the big (literally, the guy’s huge) name going the other way was Sheldon Howard but it also included a prospect by the name of Adam Ingram. Since signing this year, Ingram has proven to be perhaps the biggest piece of that deal.

7 points in 8 games and every time he touches the puck, he’s dangerous. The Steelers have something special in this kid and you’ll be hearing more about him. Ingram, who is also an avid amateur golfer, earlier won the 2020 Elmhurst Invitational Low Junior title in shooting rounds of 73 and 69 back in August.

He was born in 2003. I feel old.

Bold Prediction: Ingram wins rookie of the year and finishes top 10 in MJHL scoring. He’s also named to the MJHL All-Rookie team.

6) Steinbach – Codey Behun

Codey is a special player and a terrific person. He’s a fierce competitor  on the ice and he can really host a good ol’ fish fry.

Behun’s caring nature off the ice is apparent when you talk with him. He’s always joking with teammates and fans. When he’s not thinking about hockey, which isn’t often, he’s trying to help build the education of kids. Since being traded to Steinbach from Winnipeg, he commutes every week day and works in a school.

His kind nature stops when the skates hit the ice. Then you get “Hooner”. He’s a dynamite center with all the tools to be great and a desire to win that’s not often seen in someone just 20-years-old. Since the Pistons brought in Micheal King to go along with Behun and Rylan Bettens, that line caught serious fire and Behun is often the spark.

He has the shot. He has the passing skills. He has the hockey IQ and the work ethic to get the puck. 2021 is primed to be big for Codey Behun.

Bold Prediction: Behun is a point per game player the rest of the year and into the playoffs where he leads the Pistons in playoff scoring. He continues his work with younger hockey players and will be thanked by the MJHL MVP of 2025 for helping him start his career.

7) Swan Valley – Alex Danis

In his Next College Student Athlete recruiting profile, Alex described himself.

“I am a fast, agile, tenacious offensively skilled forward with a scoring touch that contributes tremendously in all areas of the ice. ”

That’s a fact. He has 7 goals and 7 assists for the Stamps. The 19-year-old came to Swan via the Llyodminster Bobcats. Often when players come from out of province, it takes fans a bit of time to see what they have. Not with Danis. It was evident pretty quickly that he would be a threat every night and it’s come true.

Swan Valley wants to make noise in a division that has Waywayseecappo, Dauphin and OCN. Making the most noise so far is Danis and expect that to continue into the restart.

Bold Prediction: Danis is named to the MJHL 1st team and finalist for the MJHL MVP. He has his choice of NCAA programs and picks one before the season is out.

8) Virden – Hunter Cloutier

He’s leading the league in scoring. He’s up a point but played one less game.

Not so bold prediction: Cloutier leads the league in special teams scoring at the end of the year.

As of right now, he has 1 power play goal, 6 power play assists, 1 short-handed goal and 1 short-handed assist.

Back in October, Cloutier told Mike Sawatzky from the Winnipeg Free Press, “It’s my last year in the league and I haven’t been able to get a championship yet, so I’m hoping to help the team in any way to try to win games and obviously I want to win a championship,”

Hunter’s doing all he can to help get Virden there and expect him to be right near the top of the scoring lead all season long.

Bold Prediction: Cloutier leads the league in scoring and is a finalist for the MJHL MVP.

9) Waywayseecappo – Mackenzie Belinski

Sometimes, it’s all about the fit.

Belinski is currently second in the league in scoring, one point behind Cloutier. He’s also just one point behind him in the special teams point race.

Long story short, Belinski is special.

After making a name for himself in Neepawa, he moved on to Portage where he had a stellar year but was on the move again, eventually finding his way to Wayway where he’s wearing a letter and on pace to shred the team scoring record.

Belinski and the Wolverines have put the league on notice. They believe it’s their time. 2021 may be bigger than Belinski and the Wolverines could have imagined.

Bold Prediction: Belinski wins the MJHL MVP award.

10) Winkler – Ian Tookenay

Again, it’s about fit.

Sometimes things just gel and for Tookenay, it was going to Winkler that kicked his career into high gear.

Coming off an impressive 16 goal, 43-point season in 47 games, he’s put up 7 points in 6 games this year, while never seeing the inside of the penalty box. He’s dependable in all areas and something the Flyers will need more of when things pick back up.

Tookenay may not lead the league in scoring this year but he’ll take leading the Winkler Flyers into a long playoff run any way he can.

Bold Prediction: Tookenay named a finalist for an MJHL award and named to the 2nd team all-stars. He will finish top 20 in scoring and top 5 in least amount of penalty minutes.

11) Winnipeg Blues – Brayden Foreman

Maybe one of the biggest surprises in the early part of the MJHL season was the Winnipeg Blues exploding out of the gate.

Brayden Foreman had a lot to do with that success and it won’t stop.

Foreman had 6 goals and 6 assists in just 6 games. That’s 2 points a game. You don’t need to be good at math to know that’s pretty good.

The face Winnipeg has perhaps the top goaltender in the MJHL and getting major scoring from not just Foreman but Ethan Hersant and Josiah Vanderhooft, the Blues are the real deal.

Foreman has the team around him for both personal and team success and it should be fun to watch… as long as you’re not playing them.

Bold Prediction: Foreman tears it up this year for the Blues and commits to NCAA Division 1 before the season is out. Foreman will end up in the USHL next year before going to college where he’ll have people say, “look at what Foreman’s doing there, remember when he was in the MJHL?”

12) Winnipeg Freeze – Evan Kaufman

Another personal one for me because, like earlier, I like Evan as a hockey player and as a person.

It may not be an easy time for the Freeze this year. A new franchise is already a step or two behind the eight-ball but who knows what will happen when the pause lifts.

One thing I do know, is that Kaufman will establish what it means to be a member of the Winnipeg Freeze. He’s going to lead by example on and off the ice. His impact will be felt beyond what he does on the scoresheet. He’s going to have a big 2021 helping a new team find footing in a tough league. Many fans will see it in years to come.

Bold Prediction: The Winnipeg Freeze win a championship within 6 years and they invite Kaufman back to be a part of the celebration, thanking him for being the first captain in the team’s history and letting him raise the trophy.

Convo with the Coach | Josh Green

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Josh Green – Winnipeg Freeze

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

JG: Played 20 years pro split between the NHL, AHl and 3 leagues in Europe. Played 5 years in the WHL junior in Medicine Hat, Swift Current and Portland.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

JG: Got into coaching almost immediately after I was done playing. Spent time at Jets Hockey Development working under Dave Cameron who is a big influence for me. Also was an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Blues for the 2018-19 season.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

JG: I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of responsibility standing behind the bench for the 1st time. But it was also a feeling of immense excitement.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

JG:  Least favorite drills to run are conditioning skates. I don’t find a lot of value in just skating the kids. In fact, I rarely do them anymore. I find more value in creating competition within conditioning drills. So sometimes, because they are competing/battling they don’t even realize they are working on conditioning.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

JG: Nothing stands out for me as far as any trades or recruits as of yet.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

JG: I had a coach in junior by the name of Perry Pearn who had a major impact on me. Taught me work ethic, accountability along with a good understanding of how the game should be played.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

JG: My 1st year as a coach I had a player by the name of Kelton Sutherland (our captain that year) who was a joy to be around every day. Let by example with the work he put in on a daily basis and wasn’t afraid to speak up if he sensed something was off with either the group or even us as a staff. I really appreciated the feedback especially as a young coach. He is actually a part of my staff with the Freeze now.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

JG: I would love to coach in a Canadian market. I love the passion that the fan bases have in the Canadian cities. Difficult at times, no question but I think it would be incredibly rewarding to win in one of those cities, since it hasn’t been done since ’93.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

JG: I don’t like to talk about specific individuals during a post-game interview. I prefer to keep it team oriented.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

JG: I enjoy coaching with this organization because the people I’m surrounded with are committed to developing, not only the player, but the person as well. We have almost every resource available to make this happen.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

JG: I love Winnipeg. It is my home now. I am originally from Alberta but I’ve been here since 2004 when I played for the Moose, and we have put down roots here and feel very comfortable here. Special shout out to Headingley, which is where we reside. Wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

JG: Brandt Young is a special player for us. For a 1st year player to come in and play the minutes he plays and have the responsibility he has is very impressive. He wears an ‘A’ for us which just shows you his maturity as well.

MJHL planning update for 2021 restart

The MJHL continues to prepare for restart in the New Year and has developed a Restart Action Plan that will be initiated once it is deemed safe to do so and Provincial restrictions allow for it.

In addition to the established and extensive MJHL Return to Play Guidelines already in place, a number of key elements have been identified in the MJHL Restart Action Plan to allow for a safe and responsible Return to Hockey.  The MJHL remains optimistic that teams will have the opportunity to provide on-ice training activity for their players during the latter half of January with return to game play targeted for early-to-mid February. However, with the current restrictions in place for several more weeks across the Province, the MJHL cannot confirm a specific start date at this time but will remain flexible to all potential restart timelines.

Key Elements of Restart Action Plan:

Players / Staff to complete 14-day self-isolation period before participating in team activities.

Players / Staff to follow detailed travel procedures before reporting to the community / organization.

Teams to provide ten to fourteen day modified training period for Players / Staff once 14-day self-isolation phase has been completed in advance of resuming games.

All new players added to the roster would be required to complete 14-day self-isolation period before participating in any team activities.

Each team will play minimum two games a week against the same team and will play the same team minimum four times in a row over consecutive weekends.

Each team will only play teams from the same public health region, same division and/or of closest proximity based on regional restrictions at that time.

Each team will schedule games to be played during the weekend (Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday).

Regular Season will be extended until the end of April to allow for further schedule and game play flexibility.

Playoff format will be reviewed over the coming weeks.

The MJHL successfully returned to conducting on-ice activity in July and to date has completed over 60 games since game play began in late September.

“Our goal remains the same as in September, to provide a meaningful development season for the players through knowingly very challenging circumstances while continuing to exhaust all options in order to do so in a safe, structured and sensible manner,” said MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“The MJHL and all member teams will continue to meet each challenge head on in what has already been a monumental effort by all involved.  The health and safety of our players, staff, stakeholders and communities remains our number one priority as we carefully navigate a responsible and beneficial pathway to restart training and on-ice competition.”

The MJHL will continue to consult with Public Health and Hockey Manitoba over the coming weeks to determine when it is appropriate to initiate the MJHL Restart Action Plan for a Return to Hockey.

The MJHL Board of Governors will meet early in the New Year to consider potential start dates and further restart activation planning.

The MJHL would like to thank the players, coaches, team personnel, officials, fans, partners and volunteers across the MJHL for their amazing support and efforts during unprecedented conditions to ensure the health and safety of the entire MJHL Community.  The MJHL and all member teams will continue to strive towards providing a safe and healthy environment for all involved.

On behalf of the MJHL, please have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season as we all look forward to getting back on the ice in 2021!  When the time comes, the MJHL will be ready!

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

It’s the 12 days of Christmas, 12 Takes style! Fingers crossed that Santa has the start of the MJHL season in his bag of presents. I’ll take it getting lost in the mail till after the New Year, as long as it comes.

With the hoilday season upon us, let’s taking a classic Christmas song and put an MJHL spin to it. Everything is better when it’s hockey.

Feel free to sing this proudly around the Christmas tree!

 

On the first day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

A puck.

On the second day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Two fresh towels and a puck.

On the third day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the fourth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the fifth day of Christmas, hockey game to me…

FIVE OPEN RINKS

Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the sixth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Six one-time bingo’s,

FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the seventh day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Seven canteen snacks,

Six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the eighth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Eight bone rattlin’ body checks,

seven canteen snacks, six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the ninth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Nine “oh baby” glove saves,

eight bone rattlin’ checks, seven canteen snacks, six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the tenth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Ten servings of pre-game pasta,

nine “oh baby” glove saves, eight bone rattlin’ checks, seven canteen snacks, six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Eleven thousand rolls of stick tape,

ten servings of pasta, nine “oh baby” glove saves, eight bone rattlin’ checks, seven canteen snacks, six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, hockey gave to me…

Twelve NCAA div 1,3 or CIS scholly’s,

eleven thousand rolls of stick tape, ten servings of pasta, nine “oh baby” glove saves, eight bone rattlin’ checks, seven canteen snacks, six one-time bingo’s, FIVE OPEN RINKS… Four shot blockers, three new sticks, two fresh towels and a puck.

MJHL assists Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to partner with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba (CHFM) this holiday season to help raise funds for life-saving equipment.

More specifically, donations will help purchase remote monitored beds. With the number of kids with serious conditions increasing all the time, this remote monitoring equipment is critically important.

“Manitobans continue to amaze us with their incredible support, despite a challenging year,” said Stefano Grande, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. “We are thrilled to partner with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League to help make anything possible for sick and injured kids.”

Throughout December and in early January, the MJHL will encourage the public to gift a special t-shirt or sweatshirt this holiday season that will see one hundred percent of proceeds donated back to the Hospital Foundation.

“We are excited to support this amazing and very important initiative led by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette. “Every little bit we can do during these difficult times will help make a critical difference in the lives of sick children and their families in Manitoba.”

Purchase your MJHL x CHFM apparel here to help make a difference this holiday season.

You can also make donations through the CHFM website by clicking here and following the instructions provided.

Convo with the Coach | Paul Dyck

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Paul Dyck – Steinbach Pistons

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

PD: I was very fortunate to be able to play the game for many years. I grew up in Steinbach playing for the Millers. Following that I played a year of AAA Midget with the Eastman Selects, one season with the Dauphin Kings in the MJHL followed by 2 with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL. I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and played in their system for the next for 4 years. I played another 6 years in the IHL before they merged with the AHL in 2001 and then off to the DEL in Germany for where I played my last 5 seasons.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

PD: Somewhat by default by suppose as I did NOT initially aspire to become a coach. In August of 2010 I joined the Pistons in the marketing capacity and by the end of September I was taking on some of the assistant coaching duties. When Rich Gosselin resigned in December of 2011 I took over in the interim as I was the only other coach on staff. In the summer of 2012, I was fortunate to be offered the Head Coach/GM position and have thoroughly enjoyed the role ever since.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

PD: How fast the game was down at ice level and how much of the game I was not able to see and process at the time. Thankfully over time I have been able to broaden my scope to see so much more and make quicker decisions and adjustments.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

PD: I have numerous drills that I really like and that have become foundational for us. There is one that drill we do where I stand in an area of the ice where I am susceptible to being hit by pucks that miss the net and carom off the glass or a post. I love the drill but it but it keeps me on my toes and my head on a swivel.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

PD: Over the past 8-9 years there have been a few that have been memorable and that I would like to believe made us a stronger team. That being said, trades are always simpler to imagine and to draw up but the difficult part is the realization that it usually means someone is leaving your dressing room which is often quite difficult. Prior to and during the 2012-13 season we made a number of trades that put us in a position to win the Turnbull Cup and frankly we would not have been in that position without them. Playoff MVP Corey Koop, Justin Dalebozik (Top scorer in Playoffs), Hayden Goderis, Tyler Penner, Zach Rakochy, Dan Taillefer, Richard Olson, Myles Nykoluk, Matt Franczyk, Gabe Minville and Brenden Hopkins were all players that we acquired via trades.  Moving on, some of top players throughout the years like Bradley Schoonbaert, Drew Worrad, Matt Radomsky, Braden Purtill, Kyle Bettens, Ty Naaykens and Codey Behun have also joined us through trades. Some of the more memorable recruits that worked out well for us were Cole Smith, Mack and Declan Graham.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

PD: I was fortunate to play with 2 veteran defencemen as a rookie in the minors that had a huge impact on me on how to be a pro both on and off the ice. Pittsburgh sent Gord Dineen and Gilbert Delorme down to the minors and they did a great job of mentoring the young players. Dave Tippett and Butch Goring were 2 coaches that I played for that influenced me tremendously and I have drawn from my experiences from them many times now as a coach. Both were coaches that held the players accountable but created environments where you were excited to come to the rink each day.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

PD: There are so many players that I could mention here. Colin Baudry was such a great leader and made our job easy in the room. Reise Gaber brought so much energy to the rink which was contagious and it was fun to watch how he played the game. Matt Radomsky grew and developed into an excellent goaltender and into an even better person. Jonah Wasyluk joined us as this raw, gangly winger that became an absolute dominate physical force and a fan favorite. One of the most rewarding components of this job is the number of great young men we have an opportunity to work with and see them grow as people.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

PD: I am going to have to go with Montreal here. The Canadiens were the team I grew up watching at every opportunity and have always appreciated thier rich history and winning culture. There are very few cities where the fans are as passionate and where the game means more to the people.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

PD: There are rarely any questions that would qualify but if I am looking for one I would have to go with… “How important was it for you to score the first goal tonight?”   Considering the first goal usually results in that team winning over 2/3rds of the time.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

PD:  I feel very privileged and honoured to be coaching the Pistons. I am surrounded by so many good people on a daily basis that care deeply about our program, our players and the people of our community. We have great people on our Board of Directors that have been a pleasure to work alongside and that are committed to building the program to the best of our abilities.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

PD: The first thing that jumps out to me about Steinbach is the number of amazing people here that care for and about one another. It’s a very generous community and despite the fact it has grown very quickly it still has a small-town feel. It is my hometown so it has been very rewarding to see how this community and the region have taken ownership of the Pistons and truly made us thier team.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

PD: Christian Riemer is a player that just goes about his business on a daily basis and puts in the work every day both on the ice and in the gym. He is one of the fittest players we have ever had here and plays the most minutes for us every night and rarely tires. He certainly gained the respect of his teammates last year in the players as we dominate in every area of the game. He is about as low maintenance a player as you will find and not overly vocal but his play and value to our team will grab your attention.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

There’s light at the end of the long and hockey-less tunnel at least as far as the NHL coming back is concerned.

January 13th is going to be like Christmas and a birthday and New Years and all other great days rolled into one.

I believe the MJHL will also be returning. I don’t have any information to say yay or nay to that, just a gut feeling. I really believe we can get going.

This week for the Takes, I’ve come up with a memory I have from each arena in the MJHL. There’s been quite a few special events, magical moments or times that have stood out from each rink. Because I broadcast for the Steinbach Pistons, obviously, this list will tie in deep with them but I think it’ll be fun for the fan bases of each team to relive some moments and fans across the league to say “I wish I was there”.

1 – Dauphin: I got my start in broadcasting with the Dauphin Kings, doing the colour commentary for the home games from 2008-2012. There’s been a few moments that stand out from the Credit Union Place. Watching scoring machine Jesse Sinatynski would be up on the list but the top spot belongs to Ukranian Night.

While Dauphin didn’t win the game, they sure won over anyone who saw the show they put on. It was truly something special. From the music to the atmosphere, the pre-game ceremony with gifts, a guy running around in a Superman outfit and the BEST intermission event… the kielbasa toss! Watching dozens of wrapped sausages (I don’t want to know if it wasn’t sausage, don’t kill the dream) being tossed at a washing machine is as much fun as it sounds. It was amazing and a great memory.

2 – Neepawa: While this is a bit of a stretch getting this one into the “arena” memory category, it’s a story that has to be told. Quinton Lisoway was playing for the Pistons at the time and after a game, like on all road games, the team headed off for a post-game meal. This time, it wasn’t at a restaurant. It was at Quinton’s house. His father Tom, who did work at the rink and drove the Zamboni for a lot of years, was kind enough to invite the whole team over for a home cooked meal.

I’ll never forget the look in Quinton’s eyes as the bus pulled down his street and stopped in front of his house. The family welcomed all the boys and staff in for a memorable meal. The sights, the sounds and the laugher… even just thinking about it brings me back to that day. It’s not an easy thing to do but if teams want to help build relationships off the ice, I think that is something the guys would never forget. I sure won’t.

3 – OCN: It seemed like just another road trip. After a trade, OCN product Bryce Young was set to make his debut as the visitor. Pulling up to the hotel though, we all knew it wasn’t just another game.

First thing we saw was “welcome home Bryce Young” rotating on the sign outside the hotel. A really nice tough for young man that hadn’t been in OCN for a number of years. But it got better. The stands were packed with fans cheering on Bryce and after the game, it had to be close to 50 people flooded the ice to give hugs, high fives and a lot of support. I was standing next to Paul Dyck getting ready to do a post-game interview and we both remarked just how special that moment was. It still gives me goosebumps. OCN made that a night to remember for Bryce and in turn, it’s one of the most special memories I have in that arena.

4 – Portage: I was thinking about this one the other day and it’s actually what inspired this whole 12 Takes because I thought ” wow, I’m so glad I was here for this moment”.

Many MJHL fans remember the name Braden Pettinger. We remember the story but what fans in Portage who were in the building that night will always remember was the powerful moment when Braden wheeled himself out to drop the ceremonial face off.

It was an emotional moment. It was a special tribute to a former Terrier. That night, the team announced they’d retire his jersey and hang it up.

5 – Selkirk: I’ll be honest, there has not been a lot of major moments that stand out for me in Selkirk. But something I really enjoy (in theory, not often seeing it… you’ll understand in a second) is when the Steelers score (see, that’s why I don’t like seeing it), they have kids reach their hands over the glass and get high fives.

It’s a unique thing that really stands out. It’s a cool moment where the kids get to be a part of the team. A part of the celebration.

6 – Steinbach: Oh, there are a few that could go into this one, as you’d imagine. Having spent more time at the ol’ TG Smith then any other rink, there’s been quite a few good memories. The ANAVET Cup celebration where the fans came onto the ice would be right near the top of the list.

But, the one that really stands out was in 2016 when Izaiah Peters, who was four at the time, dropped the puck for Steinbach’s games in support of Cancer Care Manitoba. Izaiah was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL Leukemia) when he was just 16 months old. After years of treatment, Izaiah proudly walked out to center ice with his mom Angie and dropped the puck.

Former Piston Julien Koga remains close with Izaiah to this day.

7 – Swan Valley: The first memories I have from Swan probably wouldn’t make Stampeders fans too happy. I remember Mark Taraschuk scoring a double overtime winner to sweep away the Stamps and I also remember Cole Smith’s overtime winner to do the same thing a few years earlier.

Swan got their revenge a few years later, knocking Steinbach out of the playoffs so, it all comes around.

The thing that stands out to me when thinking about the Stamps arena, is the neat intermission game they do where they have kids come out and take shots on the evenings backup goalie. I think it’s just terrific to see the little skates out there scoring on this big huge goalie. Yes, he lets them score but who cares? The smile on those kids faces is pretty terrific and seeing parents taking photos, also pretty cool.

Note: Benny Walchuk has his picture on the door entering the ice service area. How did he get that? I mean, I’m a little jealous. He deserves it, sure, but something about his smiling face as soon as you turn the corner after getting into the arena, I feel like he’s mocking other broadcasters, just a little bit. “Oh, look at me and my fancy wrist shot. I’m on a door.” I don’t think he thinks that but still, it’s pretty dang cool. One touch that is stand alone and very unique. It’s worth going to see if only to say that you saw it.

8 – Virden: Brace yourself, this is a deep one. I’m going to take right from the MJHL website because they detail what took place that night.

‘Gone but never forgotten, the Humboldt Broncos will be supported and honoured prior to the resumption of the Turnbull Cup final Thursday (April 12) in Virden when Steinbach Pistons and the Oil Capitals return to the ice.

The pre-game ceremony will begin with the lights dimmed when both teams will skate onto the ice and line up on the respective blue lines. Players on both teams will be wearing yellow laces, in addition to using yellow and green sock tape in honour of the Broncos, whose team colours are green and gold. Both the Pistons and Oil Capitals will be wearing the name bar “Broncos”. On-ice officials will also be wearing yellow skate laces.

Two minor hockey teams from Virden will also skate onto the ice, with one team wearing jerseys from a Steinbach minor hockey team as a showing of unity within the hockey community. Also participating in Thursday’s pre-game ceremony will be a billet family from both Virden and Steinbach, in addition to first-responders from Virden. Fans can also make a donation to the Broncos and receive a memorial green ribbon. On sale for fans will be special commemorative ‘Humboldt Strong’ t-shirts, with the proceeds going to assist the Bronco organization and families affected.’

Like for so many, what happened and how everyone across the league and country came together, will never be forgotten. The images of everyone on the ice that night, all together… speechless.

9 – Waywayseecappo: Have not had many experiences in Waywayseecappo but the ones I have, have always been good.

He may work for the MJHL now but I think Erik Swar will always have a big piece of his heart in Wayway. He did a lot of good things there and the program has really turned around, all involved should be proud.

The memory that sticks out for me though was when Steve Anderson, father of Tyler Anderson, organized a “Dads Trip” and it included a stop in Waywayseecappo. At the time, there were few fans other than the dads but they made enough noise to stand out, even if the arena was packed. They were so excited to see a rink they only heard about. They were excited to see their kids play and they had a blast.

Shoutout to Steve for doing it, even the year after Tyler moved on from the Pistons. It’s something the dad’s still talk about and the organization will never forget.

10 – Winkler: Shoutout to the canteen for making those chicken wraps. Best wraps in the league.

There have been a lot of historic nights in Flyers history but I personally just haven’t been there for them. I can’t remember at least. Maybe it has something to do with the sounds of airhorns going off in my mind!

From Don Cherry and Ron MacLean being there back in the day to Dustin Penner. Lots of big things have happened.

11 – Winnipeg: The opening night for the Freeze was unique. Any time you can be a franchises first game, it’s special.

12 – Winnipeg (MTS Ice Plex): This one, I wasn’t broadcasting, I was watching. It was a playoff game between the Blues and the Terriers. It’s a short drive from Steinbach to Winnipeg so a bunch of the team wanted to go so I tagged along as well. Watching that game with all the guys, getting to hear how 17, 18, 19 and 20-year-olds see the game, appreciate the game and love it, it was special.

The Blues won the game in overtime, eliminating the Terriers. I remember looking up where Cody Buhler was broadcasting, one of the toughest spots to broadcast from because that landing at the top of the steps has little room for all the equipment and even after a loss, he smiled and waved.

There it is. A memory from every stop in the MJHL.

MJHL teams up with Hockey Gives Blood

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and its 12 member teams are excited to team up with Hockey Gives Blood (HGB) for the holiday season.

Founded in 2018, Hockey Gives Blood is a non-profit society that has partnered with the Canadian Blood Services in an effort to engage and educate the hockey community about the importance of blood, stem cells, plasma and organs and tissues.

During the month of December on social media, the MJHL’s 12 member teams will help spread awareness for these causes through the 12 Ways to Save a Life campaign.

“The MJHL has consistently taken a leadership role promoting Hockey Gives Blood throughout the communities in which they play,” shared HGB President, Stu Middleton. “We are excited to see the league, along with their member teams encourage their fans to make a positive difference this holiday season by supporting patients who rely on Canadian Blood Services.”

Since the inception of Hockey Gives Blood in 2018, a number of MJHL teams have individually supported the non-profit organization including the Steinbach Pistons, Waywayseecappo Wolverines, Winkler Flyers and Portage Terriers.

“It was an easy decision to partner with Hockey Gives Blood on this special initiative,” MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette explained. “The amazing work they are doing is vital in helping countless patients in need and the team behind the program along with the resources they provide make it very easy to participate in. We encourage the rest of the “hockey community” throughout the province to get involved.  Together, we can all make a positive difference in many lives.”

Visit https://hockeygivesblood.ca/ to learn more about how you can get involved.

Convo with the Coach | Blake Spiller

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Blake Spiller – Head Coach Portage Terriers

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

BS: Played Minor Hockey in Poplar Point and Portage and then Junior A with Terriers.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

Started coaching my son in hockey and baseball from 6 & under right up to Bantam. Took over AAA Midget Capitals in midseason 1999 . Moved up to Assistant Coach with Terriers in 2001 and then to Head Coach and GM in ’06.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

BS: Seems like a long time ago but remember first year as head coach was also the first year of the obstruction rules and our team took over 40 minor penalties in opening home and home with Neepawa. Wasn’t a great start.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

BS: Actually, enjoy practice and along with assistant coach Paul Harland try and come up with new game like drills for practice.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

BS: Likely trade in which we acquired Bowles twins and Brett Orr in a deal with Dauphin.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

BS: That’s a tough one as I think every coach I played for or coached with has had an impact. My Dad coached me in minor ball and hockey.  Ken Jarvis was my assistant coach in AAA Midget. He was a big reason I was given the opportunity to coach AAA Midget. Was fortunate Don MacGillivray gave me opportunity as assistant coach with Terriers.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

BS: Well, I coached my son AJ for a lot of years in ball and hockey as well as with the Terriers. I know it wasn’t always easy for him but I really enjoyed coaching him … honestly there have been so many great kids I have coached over the years there is no way I could pick a favorite. I was asked a while ago who would be on my all-time team since I began coaching the Terriers and couldn’t narrow that down.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

BS: Nashville. Started cheering for them when Barry Trotz was named Head Coach of the expansion team. And I like country music.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

BS: Any type of question focused on an individual player.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

BS: Our family moved to the Portage area the year the Terriers won the Centennial Cup (1972-73) so instantly became a Terrier Fan.

It’s nice to coach in hometown and our executive has always been very supportive.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

BS: See above.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

BS: Jacob Piller

Behind the scenes with Kate Wiens

No matter where you go in the world of junior hockey, you’ll quickly learn just how passionate the people who work inside the game are.

One of the most thankless jobs in junior hockey is that of equipment and training staff who spend countless hours at the rink ensuring players are looked after, both on and off the ice. During this season, even more responsibility was put on the shoulders of training staff’s to ensure Covid-19 protocols were being followed.

But according to Swan Valley Stampeders, Athletic Therapist & Equipment Manager Kate Wiens, it was business as usual for the modest staff member who is now in her third season with the organization.

“Other than putting extra sanitation measures in place, my job duties didn’t change too much,” Wiens said of her role this season. “I’ve always been mindful about cleanliness and hygiene but this year, I’ve ensured all team spaces and high touch surfaces are disinfected regularly. Players are reminded of the symptoms of Covid-19 and to stay home if they feel sick. If they weren’t sure what do to or had questions, I made sure they were able to contact me about follow-up procedures or concerns about the new protocols required by the league.”

“This season, all team members had various roles and responsibilities to abide by. As an Athletic Therapist and Equipment Manager, a lot of the protocols I follow are related to cleaning, personal hygiene, and screening for the signs and symptoms of Covid-19. Laundering of team gear and disinfecting all locker room areas is required daily and I consulted with facility staff in regards to cleaning common areas around the arena. As usual, when treating players, I make sure my therapy table and all equipment is clean, as well as wash my hands between every treatment session.”

Any general manager you talk to will usually tell you people like Wiens are worth their weight in gold as they are truly valued members of each organization. While this season would be stressful for most, Wiens said she became busier but shared that it was all worth it in the end.

“Alongside the protocols implemented by the league, players are screened daily for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and are required to undergo an internal body temperature check via an infrared thermometer, which is all recorded confidentially. On game days, I require visiting teams to provide a copy of their screening records in case of a positive test and for contact tracing.”

“It was really important to have protocols in place before the season started. We were fortunate enough to be the first Junior A league to start our season and it came with its challenges but having protocols in place for various circumstances that might be encountered was extremely helpful. I think the biggest takeaway was to be prepared for anything and I was lucky to have great support from both team and MJHL staff members,” Wiens concluded.

Kate Wiens has also worked numerous events for the MJHL including Prospect Development, the MJHL/SJHL Showcase and was named to the training staff of Team MJHL prior to the cancellation of the 2020 Junior World Cup in Sochi, Russia.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

We’re continuing to get all comfy cozy in our homes as we look forward to January and the hope of hockey returning. While there may not be any actual games to watch, there are a number of movies that you can sit down and enjoy.

This is my list and most of these are interchangeable. I’d rather watch a hockey movie then most other movies but I had to put them in some kind of order. I may have missed one or two,  but I have listed a dozen hockey flicks that will help pass the time.

This week, we do 12 Takes: Hockey Movie Review style.

12) Youngblood – I had never seen this movie before and I probably should have. It’s kind of what you’d expect being made in 1986 but for hockey fans from back in the day, they’ll enjoy seeing the old wooden sticks, the small goalies and maybe how the life style has changed for the better.

Rob Lowe can really wheel and deal on the ice. The hockey is pretty realistic although I’m not too sure about starting a hockey fight with a stick swinging joust. I will say on the penalty shot to win the game, that goalie has one of the sweetest masks ever. We need to bring masks like that back.

11) Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice – Call me crazy but I actually like this movie. I watched Slap Shot 2 before I ever saw Slap Shot. That was a mistake. But, when you get to see the Hanson Brothers, it’s good no matter what. The on ice action is really good although the ending is just okay. Why is it the goalies in hockey movies seem like they are unbeatable only to be beaten so easily when the situation calls for it? Goalies deserve better.

It’s not suitable for kids as there’s a fair bit of language but if you can get past that, it’s a decent way to kill some time and watch some really hard-hitting hockey.

10) D3: The Mighty Ducks – The original Ducks are all grown up and off to college where life on and off the ice, will be very different. That about sums it up, but hey, it’s the Ducks… eventually. The movie does show what life heading to college would be really like, if you went with your entire team you grew up playing with, minus the coach. They start out as the Junior Varsity team before getting their wings back and flying high as Ducks again.

I will say, there are two parts of this movie that will get most hockey fans fired up. When the “Bash Brothers” are reunited and they go on a tear and when the coach puts the “C” on Charlie. “Make him make the first move, Conway” should be yelled on every one on one. How many goalies wish they could play out, even for just a game and score the game winning goal?

9)The Mighty Ducks 2 – This flick gets put slightly higher than the third installment because of one shot every hockey player has tried either on the ice or on the driveway: The Knuckle Puck.

Outside of that, this movie is good for kids but drives me insane as a grown up. Yeah, it’s Disney and suspending real life should be a given… but how does Canada not get to the finals? How does Banks get his wrist broken and it’s a two minute minor? How does a team get to play a rollerblade match on the streets of LA with no supervision and how the heck does the goalie get changed fast enough DURING A TIME OUT to then skate up past center (which, ask Patrick Roy) is illegal and get a shot off?

Despite that, it’s still a worth-while watch. You probably would have to make it a marathon but if it’s on tv randomly, I doubt you’d change the channel. Also, I would totally buy a pair of Air Bombay Loafers.

8) Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers – Is it a hockey movie? A love story? A tale of father and son? A man’s quest for hot dogs? All of the above. While again, some of the characters are more criminally insane and would not just be suspended but locked up, it’s still worth a watch.

A great example of how ownership can do all it can to ruin at team but how one tough, simple minded, good natured man named Doug can pull it all back together. Yes, the fight scenes are graphic and the language would make a salor blush, but as far as the story goes… yeah, they tried too hard. But seeing Ross “The Boss” Rhea and Doug on the same team, fighting side by side is pretty sweet. I’d want to be on Doug’s team any day.

Note: I’m a huge fan of Kim Coates who plays the coach. If you get a chance, check out some of his other work. Great Canadian actor.

6) The Mighty Ducks – A classic hockey movie but it really doesn’t stand the test of time. I mean, the whole premise of ‘coach gets DUI and has to coach kids’, really wouldn’t fly today (pun totally intended). You do have to suspend reality but this movie was made in 1992 which wasn’t that long ago… okay 28 years is a pretty long time but still. Sadly, when you see the Hawks,  I bet it’s not too far off from how some minor hockey programs are run today.

Coaches telling kids to hurt players, strapping a goalie in the net and letting kids tee off on him and more can leave you scratching your head. Of course, if you’re from a certain age group, all that doesn’t matter, it’s still a great hockey movie. Who didn’t try the triple deke? Who didn’t have dreams of taking off your cage and helmet for a penalty shot to win the game? Who at times doesn’t pop the collar of their jacket like that mean coach from the Hawks? It’s a classic. It’s a hockey staple and one that you still quote a line or two from.

The flying V is onside but the level of interference  it takes to pull it off? Get your head in the game stripes!

6)Canada Russia ’72 – A great insight into Canadian hockey history. It’s filmed like a documentary so it gives you the feel like you’re really there. I will say it’s one of my favorite hockey movies to watch and have more then perhaps any other movie on the list. It’s a two-parter with the first half showing the games that were in Canada with the second part when the team heads to Russia. There are things in there that not even hardcore hockey fans will know happened. While it’s not letter perfect, it is pretty historically accurate so you get the real sense of what that series meant to the players and the country.

I don’t know how often it is on TV but it’s worth going out and buying the DVD.

5) Mystery, Alaska – Another one of the first hockey movies I ever watched and that’s probably why it ranks so high even though it’s not a terrific hockey playing movie. Russell Crowe is clearly not often on skates but looks the part of a grizzled hockey vet. Understanding what goes on around making a game happen comes as you get older so seeing the whole town come together to make it happen and the hurdles, they need to overcome is pretty realistic.

The scenic shots from around Alaska are pretty terrific and the camera work makes it feel like they’re moving at insane speed on that open pond. It ends pretty satisfyingly despite it being a movie. I won’t spoil it but it’s what you’d expect, not what you’d hope for. Again, language warning and some scenes not suitable for kids. For the most part, it’s a film about the love of the game and how much hockey matters to not just the ones playing but to a whole community.

4) Goon – It’s like Rock’em Sock’em on steroids. The hitting is so jarring, you can feel it. The punches so real, it’ll have you lean back. The ending is as heart-warming as it is cringe worthy because of what ol’ Doug Glatt had to go through. It’s pretty great.

Most fans will have seen Goon and can quote more than a few lines, I’m sure. The hockey is great to watch, the hits sound real and sure the fighting is over the top but a few hockey people have said, fans don’t go get popcorn when there’s a fight. The love Dough has for his teammates though is what real fans enjoy about Goon. Language warning, if you didn’t already know. There’s enough love and heart and hockey to go around for most fans to really enjoy this movie.

If you have seen the movie a few times, look around at the rink. Look familiar? It should. Some of the scenes were shot at what’s now called Stride Place in Portage La Prairie. Very cool.

3)The Rocket – I’m not much for promoting the Montreal Canadiens (I’m a Leafs fan, so that scene where Conn Smythe try’s to buy Maurice Richard is embarrassing but also every time I watch, I wish Maurice would say yes. He doesn’t.) But this is an epic, historical movie with hockey as the main character. I love the game and thought I knew a lot but it wasn’t till I watched this movie that I understood what players had to go through. What it was like to be an NHL’er in the early days and how much the game has really changed. There are subtitles. There are scenes that are hard to watch but every moment shows you something. About Richard. About hockey. About the world at that time.

It’s an absolute must watch and it may even have you cheering for the Canadiens just a little bit. And if you remember the lengthy ovation Richard received a few years back (if you don’t, go to Youtube and watch it) after this movie, you’ll understand just how much he meant to the city and the game.

2) Slap Shot – The original. The Holy Grail of hockey movies. For many it’s the GOAT. It’s got so many classic scenes, so many classic lines and the Hanson Brothers!

The movie is great. Any hockey fan worth their salt knows that. It’s funny, it’s tough and my goodness is it weird to see players skating around without helmets, taking the kind of shots they do. Kids now a days might not get it. Might not understand that it was like that in leagues in the late 70’s and 80’s but learning about hockey history and being entertained is a win win. How do you not get excited when the Hanson’s finally get to go out there and show coach what they got?

Great film all the way through. It’s a classic for a reason. Go out and buy some Paul Newman Pasta Sauce. Support Reggie Dunlop. All proceeds go to charity.

1) Miracle – I grew up being so pro-Canadian that I refused to learn much about this story. I still remember crying when Canada lost the 1996 Canada Cup to the Americans. I recorded it on VHS (look it up, you kids). But eventually I grew up and when I watched Miracle, I finally understood why it was as important as it is. Why Herb Brooks will forever be a legend. Not just for his coaching but for how he put the team together. I’m a huge fan of this entire movie. From start to finish. Watching him put players through their paces to knowing what had to be done to win.

The hockey moments are sensational. The actors playing the real people do a terrific job and the fact i’s history and a true story makes it even sweeter. This is a family friendly film so get everyone together to watch. Even non-hockey fans will love it.

Brooks’ speech is still legendary and gives me goosebumps every time that part comes on.

There you go. 12 hockey movies you should watch if you haven’t already. I’m sure you have but seeing the titles and reading a bit about them will make you want to watch them again and it’s totally worth it.

Convo with the Coach | Hudson Friesen

Over the next 12 weeks, we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Hudson Friesen – Head Coach, Selkirk Steelers

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

HF: I grew up playing hockey in Springfield (Oakbank, Hazelridge) where I played my minor hockey through bantam. I played my Midget hockey with the Eastman Selects before playing my junior career with the Selkirk Steelers, where I played for 3 seasons. From the MJHL, I received a scholarship to the University of Alaska Anchorage where I played for 2 seasons from 2013-2015. After multiple hip surgeries following the 2015 season, I returned home and took a year off playing before joining the University of Manitoba for the 2016-17 season. After deciding to retire following this season, I had the opportunity to join the Steeler coaching staff in 2017-18 and have been with the organization since.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

HF: After my last season of playing I realized that I couldn’t keep playing with the injuries that I was dealing with but I still had a desire to stay involved in the game in some capacity. I wanted to give back and to help other players in their journey and when the opportunity presented itself, it was a no brainer for me.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

HF: It was definitely an exciting feeling, especially this season just being able to get back to hockey and put all the other noise from the outside world aside. It was a great feeling, I was happy for our players too, knowing how hard they worked to get to that point and what they had to sacrifice to play this season was a rewarding moment,

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

HF: I’m not sure I have a favourite or a least favourite drill, there are definitely some drills that I enjoy running for certain situations depending on our focus. I enjoy drills that involve pace and compete. Any of my least favourite drills don’t usually make it into our practice plans

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

HF: Our organization has brought in many quality players and individuals since I’ve been with the club, whether it’s through draft, listing, signing or trading. Hard to pick one name with all of the talent that we’ve seen over the years.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

HF: I think I take bits and pieces from all of the experiences I’ve had in the game, every coach that I played for has impacted me in some way, whether it’s positive or negative, and I believe they all taught me something and helped shape me into the coach I am today.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

HF: I’ve had the privilege of coaching many players that are also outstanding individuals and that are great people. Picking one name is very difficult out of all the players. I’ve had some great leaders like Ryan Gardiner and Ryan Sokoloski, to name a few, who were always smiling and were a pleasure to coach,

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

HF: I would have to go with Chicago, I grew up being a Blackhawks fan and seeing them win three cups was great. They have a rich history of success and there is so much history at the United Center as well, it would be a surreal experience.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

HF: Post game interviews don’t come around very often so I can’t say there is a particular question that I dislike, but any question after a loss usually stings a bit.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

HF: Having grown up near Selkirk, coming to games as a kid and being an alumni of the program, it definitely feels like home. It’s a great town with a great facility and everyone that is involved with the team is passionate about the Steelers.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

HF: Selkirk is a great city, it’s definitely a hockey town and people are passionate about the game. There is a sense of community in Selkirk and it has the feel of a small town which I like.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league?

HF: I think we have a few guys that could deserve more attention, but one player in particular who plays the game the right way and who is a rising star is defenseman Jordan Macfarlane. He is a heart and soul player that puts the work in and is good in all aspects of the game. Very well rounded. He’s an exciting young player that we’re fortunate to have on our team.

Neepawa reflects on CMHA Talk Today presentation

In early October, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) announced its continued partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and their Talk Today Program.

Talk Today has grown into a national mental health initiative and now includes more than 50 CMHA provincial divisions and community branches across Canada supporting junior hockey teams, post-secondary sports programs, minor sports organizations, and more.

Earlier this season, players and staff from the Neepawa Natives took part in their presentation on mental health and suicide prevention.

“As a coach it’s very important to have these resources available to our players and right at the tip of their fingers,” Explained Head Coach & General Manager, Ken Pearson. “Our presenter did a great job and took the time to answer the questions that players had during the presentation.”

“I believe it’s also key for the players to have this available to them, with all the peer pressure and social media scrutiny sometimes things can become overwhelming as they grow as players and most importantly young adults.”

One of those players is 20-year-old Brady Morrison who spoke about what he learned and how he can benefit from the program.

“Mental health is something that impacts many people, and as a player I learned tools on how to address and talk to people or even teammates that are having mental health issues,” Morrison shared.

“These resources are key to have for players especially ones that are living away from home and don’t have the one person they feel comfortable opening up to,” he concluded.

Elite athletes face immense pressures, including balancing academic demands and performing in their chosen sport. Talk Today, one of the most comprehensive sport-related mental health programs in Canada, was designed to promote the mental health of these young athletes and to spread awareness about the benefits of positive mental health.

Convo with the Coach | Taylor Harnett

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Taylor Harnett – Head Coach, Waywayseecappo Wolverines

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

TH: I grew up playing minor hockey in an area of Edmonton called Mill Woods up until Peewee and then graduated to the Southside athletic club (SSAC). I played some Jr “A” in Saskatchewan, WHL and ACAC college. I was also fortunate to attend an NHL training camp in 1995.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

TH: Somebody involved with the (SSAC)asked me if I would be interested in coaching as they were short a few coaches in their bantam program in 1997. So, I was able to grab a couple of my buddies and we had a blast. I ended up coaching for that organization at all different levels for many years.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

TH: Very vague memories but I do remember how much I missed playing. Also, I remember realizing I did not know and remember that much about the game. Ha-ha

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

TH: Favorite drill to run would most likely be the “coaches challenge” it is more of a game, but we have a lot of fun with it. Least favorite drill would probably be ‘Board Rushes’. I feel it is a waste of time but sometimes necessary.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

TH: We have recruited a lot of great players in the past few seasons that have put on the Wolverine uniform. It would not be fair to mention a favorite. As far as acquiring a player, the same would apply there. Although one player did come into our organization I will mention. That was Brody Moffatt. The reason I mention him was because he was the captain of the Winkler Flyers. And when he came to us, he did not wear a letter. But he led by example and with humility, he was a great teammate.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

TH: This is an interesting question because I have always been a head coach. But I look back on some of the coaches who had a positive and a negative impact on my life. I try to take something from all my experiences. I had a minor hockey coach by the name of Tom Hannah. I just remember he coached with equality and integrity. I still sometimes think back to certain tendencies that he had. The one thing that I remember about him was he always made me feel good and understood me as a person and player.  I have a lot of good friends in the coaching world, sometimes I rely on them for advice.  My good buddy Rylan Ferster is always willing to listen.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

TH: I would probably have to say Wolverines Associate coach, Josh Lee. I coached him at a young age, and I think that he probably understands me the best. Also, one player that really helped with my coaching transition here was former captain Jake Bestul. He was a true Wolverine and really took pride in wearing the uniform. He was a great captain and a great teammate.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

TH: If I were fortunate enough to put on a whistle in the National Hockey League, I would not have a preference. But I am an Edmonton Oilers fan.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

TH: I think that it is important that fans hear from coaches and players before and after a win or a loss. I think when asked about the “officiating”. To me it is the most difficult, especially right after a loss. I think it is a question that a lot of coaches have a tough time answering.  Sometimes the emotions are not right for the best answer.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

TH: That is a well-rounded question. Coaching in Waywayseecappo for me is a privilege. I love the passion from the community. I also like the challenge. I am fortunate that the organization trusts in my ability moving forward and believing that we can put a team together that is truly capable of winning a championship one day.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

TH: I love the people. I love the culture. I have lived here now since 2017 and some of my closest friends are now in this area. The valley is beautiful in the summer and nothing but hockey in the winter. It is a great place to call home.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league?

TH: Reagan Rabbit. He is a great teammate, he is a great player, and he works his butt off.

Don MacGillivray named Wheat Kings Head Coach

The Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) have named longtime MJHL Coach, Don MacGillivary their 24th Head Coach in team history.

MacGillivray has spent the past four seasons as an Assistant Coach with the Wheat Kings. Prior to joining Brandon, he made stops in the MJHL with the St. James Canadians (89-91), Southeast Blades (92-93), Neepawa Natives (93-96), Portage Terriers (00-06) and Winnipeg South/Blues (09-14).

Don is a four-time MJHL Coach of the Year (1995, 2005, 2012, 2013) and sits second all-time among MJHL coaching wins (669), one back of Doug Stokes (670) for the all-time lead.

In 2005, MacGillivray helped guide his Portage Terriers to a Turnbull Cup Championship in a 4-2 series victory over the Selkirk Steelers. In the Anavet Cup, it was the Terriers who would prevail over the SJHL’s Terriers, 4-games-to-2.

In Don’s final season (2013-14) in the MJHL, his Winnipeg Blues would shock the league. After finishing in sixth place during the regular season, the Blues would be forced to play in the now defunct Divisional Survivor Series where they would go on to knock out the Winkler Flyers in two straight games.

The team caught fire and lost just one game in each of their next series on the way to defeating the Dauphin Kings, 4-games-to-1 to win the Turnbull Memorial Trophy with a 14-3 playoff record.

Don sits third all-time in playoff wins (106) and has coached the most MJHL games in league history (1234).

 

 

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

It was announced that the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze received their punishment for violating Hockey Manitoba’s directives at the time. Each team is losing their first-round draft pick. Also, the ownership group will pay a $5,000 fine. I do truly love the decision to put the money to charity. The funds will go towards COVID-19 PPE relief for frontline workers in Manitoba.  Great touch by the MJHL and a great cause.

Before jumping into the Takes this week, I should explain a bit about what is happening. Because there is no hockey currently, I wanted to dig into the past. I went into the 2010/2011 season and pulled the top scorer from each team. I’ll go over their stats from the MJHL and we’ll look at where they went after their time in the league.

1) Portage Terriers – 1st place Sher-Wood Division – 86pts
Leading Scorer: Brent Wold – 22 goals, 46 assists for 68 points in 61 games

Wold’s first season in Portage was the start of a pretty amazing hockey career. After putting up 53 points for the Eastman Selects, the Lac Du Bonnet native got a one game cup of coffee for Neepawa. The following season, he landed in Portage and went off from there. In the next 164 games for the Terriers, Wold scored 184 points. On top of that, 35 points in 39 playoff games.

Wold was named to the MJHL All-Rookie Team in his first season. He was also part of the back-to-back MJHL Championship teams Portage put together.

Portage traded Wold along with Dylan Butler to the Dauphin Kings in exchange for forward Taylor Sanheim and the CJHL rights to Landon Peel in November of 2014.

Wold scored over a point per game with the Kings to end the 2013-14 season, 23 points in 21 games. 12 more points in 13 playoff games for the Kings.

After his MJHL career, Wold played 9 games at Utica College scoring 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points.

He returned home and played a pair of seasons with the Lac du Bonnet Blues before in the MSHL before a brief stop in Ste. Anne with the Aces of the Carillon Senior Hockey League. 2017-19 he’s back at home in Lac du Bonnet with the Blues where he was named Captain last year.

2) Winkler Flyers – 1st place Addison Division – 83 pts
Leading Scorer: Michael Wilgosh – 38 goals, 43 assists for 81 points in 60 games

The 2010/2011 season was the 20-year-old season for Wilgosh who ended up playing 272 MJHL games between his hometown Selkirk Steelers and the Winkler Flyers.

Highlighting his time in the MJHL was the 2006-2007 Championship with the Selkirk Steelers.

Wilgosh came to Winkler in a trade for steady defenseman Lucas Alexiuk who went to Selkirk in the deal.

In the playoffs in 2010/11, Wilgosh had 12 points in 12 games.

After his time in the MJHL, Wilgosh moved on to the University of British Columbia from 2011-2014 playing in 43 games scoring a total of 11 goals and 3 assists for 14 points.

3) Dauphin Kings – 2nd Sher-Wood Division – 81 points
Leading Scorer: Shane Luke – 28 goals, 61 assists for 89 points in 60 games

Shane Luke is a hockey players hockey player. Coming from the Parkland Rangers program, he exploded onto the scene in Dauphin scoring at an incredible rate.

Believe it or not, his 81 points in 2010/11 was a step back from what he did in 2009-10 where he scored 101 points in 62 games.

In total, the man from Saint Rose Du Lac played all 241 games he suited up for in the MJHL with the Kings, scoring 116 goals, 214 assists for 330 points.

Luke was part of that well-oiled machine like team in 2009-10 that saw Dauphin win the ANAVET Cup and head to the RBC Cup where Luke scored 6 goals in 6 games while adding an assist. He was named the RBC Cup MVP.

Providence College was where Luke headed after 2010-11 and stayed there until 2014-15. While at Providence, he suited up for 128 games putting up 81 points in that span.

A brief 24 game stint for Amiens in Ligue Magnus (it’s in France) before heading to Russell and playing in the NCHL-MB where all he did was continue to dominate.

Here’s his three seasons with the Russell Rams:

14 games – 42 points. 3 games – 12 points. 9 games – 18 points.

4) Selkirk Steelers – 2nd place – Addison Division – 81 points
Leading Scorer: Colan Jackson – 44 goals, 35 assists for 79 points in 61 games

Looking at Winnipeg native Colan Jackson’s numbers, he’s a guy that looked like he could do it all.

He played 223 games in total for the Steelers and was part of the 2006 Championship run. In his MJHL career he had 127 goals and 144 assists. On top of that, he put up 289 penalty minutes.

He led the Steelers in scoring in the regular season then continued to dominate in the playoffs scoring 17 points in just 16 games.

In his final season, he led the league in goals with 44 and was named a MJHL Second Team All-Star.

Jackson went quiet after his final MJHL season before making a return in 2016-17 for the Ste. Anne Aces in the Carillon Senior Hockey League. He helped the Aces come away with a championship scoring 3 points in 5 regular season games then adding 5 more points in 10 playoff games.

5) OCN Blizzard – 3rd place Sher-Wood Division – 78 points
Leading Scorer: Denis Restoule – 28 goals, 27 assists for 55 points in 57 games

It was an interesting career for Restoule who started in the SJHL before a stop in the MJHL then returning to the SJHL before finally settling the MJHL.

Still with me?

Restoule started the 2009-10 season with the Melfort Mustangs of the SJHL. After 10 games, he went to OCN where he spent 21 games before going to Flin Flon and suited up there for 21 games.

After all that movement the year before, Restoule ended up back in OCN in 2010 where he would play his last two years.

In 2010, the then 19-year-old not only led the Blizzard in points but led the entire MJHL in penalty minutes with 124.

He would win the most penalized player award the following season as well, this time with 234 minutes total.

6)Swan Valley Stampeders – 4th place – Sher-Wood Division – 71 points
Leading Scorer: Shelby Gray – 36 goals, 25 assists for 61 points in 55 games

Gray came to Swan Valley by way of trade in 2009-10 from the Weyburn Red Wings in exchange for David Marmen and the trade instantly paid off for the Stamps.

In the final 43 games of that season, Gray had 46 points.

He continued to score in his 20-year-old season leading the team in points before spending the next three seasons with Adrian College where he scored 72 points in 73 games.

He managed only two games for the Lloydminister Border Kings in 2014-15 but rebounded with the Foam Lake Flyers of the Wheatland Senior Hockey League where he found his scoring touch again putting up a staggering 110 points in 37 games over two seasons.

In 2018-19 he moved to the Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan to play for the Wheat Kings of the BSHL (Big Six Hockey League) where he continues to play this year. He’s only played in one game so far this year.

7)Waywayseecappo Wolverines – 5th place – Sher-Wood Division – 65 points
Leading Scorer: Paul Van De Velde – 21 goals, 51 assists for 72 points in 59 games

Van De Velde spent his entire MJHL career with the Wolverines that spanned over parts of 4 seasons. For his career in the MJ, in 88 games, he put up a total of 103 points. He also added 23 points in 87 WHL games between the Everett Silvertips and Brandon Wheat Kings.

After his 20-year-old season where he led the Wolverines in points and was named to the MJHL First All-Star Team, he moved on to the University of Toronto where he’d spend the next 4 seasons.

Over that time, Van De Velde would skate in 105 games scoring a total of 28 goals and 48 assists.

In 2015-16 he played his last two games of record for the Carmen Beavers of the SEMHL. In those two final games, he scored 3 goals and added 2 helpers for 5 points before putting up 9 more points in 3 playoff games.

8) Winnipeg Saints – 3rd place – Addison Division – 63 points
Leading Scorer: Brett Chartier – 29 goals, 53 assists for 82 points in 57 games

The 2010-11 season would be the career high in points for Chartier who at 19, led the Saints in assists while being tied for the team lead in goals with Cole Pruden.

Following the 2010-11 season where he was named to the MJHL Second All-Star Team, Chartier would score 67 points in 52 games for the Saints, his final year in the MJHL and also collected his second straight MJHL Second All-Star Team nod.

Chartier had a brief stint with the University of Manitoba, where he was held pointless in just two games. He would move on to the Carman Beavers in the same season putting up 8 points in 7 games. The next year, he added another 16 points in just 10 games for the Beavers.

In 2015-16, he suited up for the Ild-des-Chenes North Stars in the Allan Cup.

The next year, he did the same but this time for the South East Prairie Thunder.

9) Neepawa Natives – 6th place – Sher-Wood Division – 54 points
Leading Scorer: Richard Olson – 16 goals, 29 assists for 45 points in 62 games

Olson was only 18-years-old when he led Neepawa in scoring in 2010-11. At that point, he was on his second MJHL team.

His career started in Selkirk before Neepawa. The 2011-12 season was a wild one and that might be putting it lightly. Olson travelled… that’s putting it mildly. Here’s how it goes.

Neepawa to Dauphin to Steinbach to Winnipeg Saints. In 2012-13, Virden to Swan Valley back to Steinbach where he was part of the 2012-13 Championship team that upset the Dauphin Kings.

In total, Olsen played for 7 MJHL teams. 283 games, 77 goals and 103 assists for 180 total points.

After the MJHL run, Olsen skated with the Wawota Flyers in the BSHL for 11 games scoring 8 points.

It all came back to Steinbach for one more season at least as Olsen suited up for the Steinbach Huskies of the Carillon Senior Hockey League. In 13 games he had 10 points and added 1 goal in 2 playoff games.

10) Winnipeg Blues – 4th place – Addison Division – 46 points
Leading Scorer: Patrick Henderson – 15 goals, 29 assists for 44 points in 49 games

After the conclusion of his MJHL career, Henderson went to play for Brock University for two seasons.

By far, one of the most interesting moves by any MJHL player belongs to Henderson.

In 2015-16, he went to the Hong Kong Tycoons. He’d finish the season with 14 goals and 20 assists in 17 games. That was good for 2nd place in team scoring behind Lucas Eshleman.

Random fact, Eshleman is still playing in Hong Kong today. Over the last 5 seasons, he has 234 points. Not connected to Henderson but I still thought it was worth noting.

I may never get to write about hockey in Hong Kong again, so give me a break.

11) Steinbach Pistons – 5th place – Addison Division – 45 points
Leading Scorer: Mitch Chagnon – 21 goals, 37 assists for 58 points in 57 games

‘Twas a tough year for Steinbach in 2010-11 but an impressive year for Chagnon who managed to score over a point per game on a team that won just 21 contests.

After leading the Pistons in scoring the season before, Chagnon moved on to the Dawson Creek Rage in the NAHL before settling in Portage for 11 games. He would score twice and added 5 assists for 7 total points. The final points of his MJHL career.

From 2014-15 he played for Mount Royal University.

In 2019-20, he made a dramatic comeback when he suited up for the Ste-Anne Aces of the Carillon Senior Hockey League. He found his scoring touch again putting up 6 goals, 2 assists for 8 points in 9 games.

Chagnon ended that season’s playoff run with 3 points in 3 games.

12) There were only 11 teams back in 2010-11. Any hockey fan would tell you the game has changed a lot in the past 10 years. Was it harder to score then, then it is now? Was there more physicality then? Is there more high-end skill overall on rosters now?

Either way, it’s safe to say… hockey cant come back soon enough.

CJHL coaches perspective: Paul Dyck, Steinbach Pistons

Courtesy of Canadian Junior Hockey League

CALGARY, Alta. – No stranger to the Canadian Junior Hockey League, Paul Dyck has had tremendous success as head coach and general manager of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons.

After joining the Pistons back in 2010, he was appointed interim head coach in December of 2011 before officially taking reign of the club as bench boss and GM in the summer of 2012.

An alumnus of the CJHL in his Jr. A playing days with the Dauphin Kings (MJHL), Dyck is a two-time league coach of the year award honouree and was also a finalist for CJHL top coach laurels in 2017.

He guided Steinbach to MJHL championships in 2013 and 2018, along with an ANAVET Cup crown in 2018 and a berth in the national Jr. A championship that same season.

Since officially becoming the team’s head coach in 2012, he has led his squad to an impressive record of 340-111-15-21 through 487 regular season games played, boasting an equally solid .735 winning percentage.

Here’s a look as some of Dyck’s other accomplishments as well as his favourite practice drill and advice he has for those looking to play in the CJHL, in this latest coach’s perspective.

BIO: The Steinbach, Man., product was a selection of the Pittsburgh Penguin in the 1991 NHL Draft, he played 15 years professionally, winning an IHL championship with the Houston Aeros in 1999 and a DEL German League crown in 2003 as a member of the Krefeld Penguins. … Helped Canada West win gold, as an assistant coach, at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge. … Guided Team West to victory in the 2015 CJHL Prospects Game. Holds the MJHL record for fastest to win 250 games as a coach, doing so in just 376 outings.

FAVOURITE PRACTICE DRILL: One of my favourite drills is a two-vs.-two, below the dots, with two coaches that can be used as shooters several feet above the hash marks.

We typically do this drill at the start of practice on the day before a game.

It is intended to set the tone for that session as the expectation is to see a very high level of compete; winning of puck battles in a confined space and getting to the front of the net, once a coach receives the puck.

This drill has become a favourite for the players as well, due to its competitive nature; with the intensity from it carrying into the next drill.

ADVICE ON PLAYING IN THE CJHL: A player entering the CJHL should look for a team where he is going to have an opportunity to play and develop.

I would suggest that the player look for the best fit for him and not be focused on a specific league or location.

There are numerous excellent options for a player and I would be thorough in looking into the options if I was a player today.

The internet can be a great resource for information on programs in the CJHL and gives the player the ability to research the teams he is interested in.

Convo with the Coach | Billy Keane

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.

Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.

We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.

Billy Keane – Head Coach OCN Blizzard

DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?

BK: I grew up in Winnipeg, playing with the Assiniboine Park Rangers and the Winnipeg Monarchs at the AA and AAA level. Went on to play in the MMJHL for the Charleswood Hawks in my 17- and 18-year-old years. Then, the Fort Garry Blues, at that time. They’ve evolved into the Winnipeg South and the Winnipeg Blues. I got a scholarship to the University of Alaska Anchorage out of the MJHL. Played my first year NCAA then transferred back to University of Manitoba and graduated as a student athlete. I then got an opportunity to get into the coaching ranks at UofM right after I graduated. Was at UofM from ’89 to ’99 as a member of the coaching staff. I went back from ’07-’09 and in between I was involved in coaching in the MJHL.

DA: How did you get into coaching?

BK: I would say my dad, actually. My dad was a coach to me when I was growing up and he was a great, great person to lean on in terms of his humor and his interest and passion. He was a great role model for us as players. Certainly, I developed a passion for it watching his energy and his passion, his love of the game. That’s for sure where it started from.

DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?

BK: Boy, that’s a good question. That’s, back in 1999-2000 around there. You know, it’s just another challenge. Whether you’re behind the bench as an assistant coach or behind the bench as a head coach, you’re behind the bench. You’re with the guys and preparing with them through the week and getting ready for the game. It’s an exciting experience.

DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?

BK: I got lots of favorites. The least favorites they disappear. You put a big black X over the drill and then you never see it again so you forget about it. But I got lots of favorites. The internet provides thousands of opportunities for coaches to learn drills but honestly, I bet you I got 25 that I make modifications from and those are my go-tos. You don’t need to have thousands of drills; you just need 20-25 that you like and you just make adaptations and progressions from those drills and that will benefit you quite a bit.

DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?

BK: I think we all go through it. There are times and years when you figure you have a chance to win and you pull a big deal off at the trade deadline. You hope it’s going to bring you a championship and we’ve done that a few times. I’ll say the deadline times are the most exciting, that’s for sure.

DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?

BK: Again, my dad. He’s number 1. I’m a big soccer guy, too. I might have been a better soccer player than a hockey player. My soccer coaches were a big part of my development as a coach as well. I grew up in the Scottish community in Winnipeg and I had some Scottish coaches growing up and they were integral. It’s a different sport but same skill, same passion, same love of the game.

DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?

BK: You know, I don’t want to do any dis-service to any one guy. I’ve had a lot of great characters and a lot of great people that have over the years, come and gone. Every year there’s new groups that have new personalities. That’s a real love for me, the personalities in the game, the personal relationships you develop. I think it goes back to my coach mentor, in a lot of ways was Andy Murray. Through Hockey Canada and through a lot of the things Andy has done over the years, one thing he shared with me and shared with coaches in Hockey Manitoba, was that kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’ve held that close to my heart as my philosophy.

DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?

BK: Oh boy. I’d have to go with my Boston Bruins, actually. I grew up loving the Boston Bruins in the ’70’s. I could tell you every guy on those championship teams in 1970 and ’72. So, I would say Boston for that reason. I’ve had my heart strings pulled because my younger brother Mike played for Montreal for a lot of years and won a cup in Montreal. Obviously, growing up as a Boston fan, I couldn’t stand Montreal. I don’t use the “H” word very often in my life but I hated Montreal back then. So, then it became a situation for me where when my Bruins played my brothers Canadiens, I was hoping Boston would win 3-2 and my brother would get a goal and an assist in a losing cause. So, I’d say Boston because it was my favorite team growing up.

DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?

BK: We don’t do a whole lot of post-game interviews, to be honest with you. You know, I don’t mind at all talking with the media. It doesn’t bother me a whole lot. I like working with the media, they are promoting the game and its free promotion. I try and make a response as best we can to provide a news outlet with a good piece of work.

DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?

BK: I got into this gig this year… I wasn’t about to drag my family around the globe when the kids were younger. My kids are 26, 24, 22 now. I wasn’t going to globe trot to pursue my coaching dreams. I wanted to stay in Winnipeg. Wanted to raise my family in Winnipeg. Both sets of grandparents are in Winnipeg so the support system was there. I was able to cobble out a career. We’re not a wealthy family but we’re a comfortable family. This job came up this year and for the first time, I left my family. My wife and kids are in Winnipeg. This opportunity really intrigued me. I was with the Blues for a lot of year and the ownership, there were some differences that made it clear I wouldn’t be a part of that group. This chance in OCN came up and quite frankly, they’ve been awful for a couple years. This is a chance for me to come into an organization and work with some coaches that I’m familiar with in Greg Hunter and Nic Rusak, also Kris Menard our director of player personal and head scout. The challenge for us is we want to return this organization back to the glory days and championship years.

DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?

BK: This community has a tremendous history. They were almost spoiled to a point because 4 of the first 6 years they were champions. That’s almost unheard of. We’re looking forward to providing this community with more positive things within the hockey program. And, quite frankly, working with the Northern region was really intriguing for me. The region has always been really passionate about its development. We’ve done hockey camps in Thompson and Churchill and up in Grandview and Dauphin. The region itself has had a lot of good players and it’s been getting a bit thin on its development right now so I thought it was a good opportunity to mentor some of the coaches up in this region.

DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).

BK: We’ve got a couple Western Leaguers in our group right now. Evan Herman is someone who’s joined our group, he’s from The Pas and he’s playing for the Prince Albert Raiders. Certainly, when we get back playing and I’m hoping he can resume his playing time for PA because that means the Western League is a go, but boy, since he’s been a part of our group, he’s a dynamo. He’s just a ball of energy on skates. He’s got really good skill, he’s busy, he’s passionate and diligent. He’s a guy that’s been a tremendous addition to our group. He’s a great role model to our group. He’s taken the step to the next level and his passion to become a pro. Great to see him within our group right now and hopefully our guys will take note of.

Roeland & Mahoney selected to officiate 2021 IIHF WJC

Courtesy of Hockey Manitoba

WINNIPEG – Manitobans Kelsey Mahoney (linesman) and Brett Roeland (referee) have been selected to officiate the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship which is being hosted in Edmonton, Alberta between December 25th, 2020 – January 5th, 2021.

Brett Roeland is a current referee in the MJHL while Kelsey Mahoney is a former linesman and referee in the league.

This is the first time that both Mahoney, 33 and Roeland, 27, have been selected to officiate at the prestigious tournament, which is a showcase of some of the best Under-20 players in the world.  This year’s World Junior Championship will be held without spectators in a single-venue in Edmonton as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s obviously something I’ve really worked for the last 10 years to try to get this assignment so it’s very rewarding. It’s going to be a little different living in a bubble but I’m looking forward to it. It’s just going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited for it.” said Mahoney, the Director of Officiating for the Manitoba U18 AAA League.

Mahoney has been a linesman in the American Hockey League since 2015 and has also been a linesman in the Western Hockey League since 2010, and his WHL experience includes working the lines in four-straight WHL Championship Series between 2015-2018.  Mahoney’s previous IIHF experience includes being assigned to the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division II, Group B in Belgrade, Serbia and the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III Group B in Mexico, Mexico City.

“It’s going to be completely a different atmosphere with no fans. There are going to be a lot of quality hockey players there with the NHL shutdown and there is a really good group of officials going,” Mahoney said. “Obviously Brett has worked really hard over the last couple of years with his fitness and his drive to make it to the NHL as a referee and it’s just going to be exciting to share this experience with another Manitoba guy.”

Brett Roeland spent last season refereeing in the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League (click here for Hockey Manitoba’s feature story on Roeland) and his previous IIHF experience includes officiating at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and the World Under-17 Challenge in Fort St. John, British Columbia.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back on the ice at a high level especially after the way last season ended,” said Roeland. “Combined with the uniqueness of a bubble, I’m excited for the experience and know it will be something that I draw upon for the rest of my life. It’s a tournament that I’ve watched over the holidays ever since I can remember and I’m humbled and honoured to be able to represent the branch, everyone I grew up officiating with, and also my friends and family.”

Mahoney and Roeland will fly out to Edmonton on December 13th and will start working pre-season games on December 20th. The regular competition begins on Christmas Day.

Manitobans Seth Jarvis (Winnipeg, Carolina Hurricanes draft pick) and Daemon Hunt (Brandon, Minnesota Wild draft pick) have been invited to attend Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp in Red Deer, slated to begin on Monday November 16, 2020.

For more information on the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook or Twitter.

Flyers treat billets to dinner

While the MJHL is on pause, players across the league are looking to keep busy.

For the Winkler Flyers Ryan Monias and Kyle Crewe, they decided to give back to their billets by making them a special dinner last week.

“We’re in code red here, we can’t skate so we got some extra time on our hands” Monias said. “We figured why not cook dinner for the billet family. Got home and went to work making tacos for the family.”

While he may not be a master chef, Crewe says he knows his way around the kitchen a little bit. “I can cook eggs and a little bit more stuff. I took food class in high school but I’m not much of a cook.”

Monias also does what he can in the kitchen. “I try my best. I wouldn’t say I’m a good cook but if there’s instructions, I think I can follow them pretty good.”

The billet brothers came together to make the taco night decision. “It’s a great way to come together with the billets.” Crewe adds. “There’s six people in total in the house so it’s lots of fun. There is never a dull moment.”

Working together on the ice is one thing but working in the kitchen is a whole new world for the pair. They managed to work together pretty well, according to Monias. “Well, I mean, I just did my job and he did his job. I think we stuck to that pretty well because some of the stuff he was doing, I don’t think I could have done.”

Crewe agrees it was a good working dynamic. “We had our own jobs. Ryan was cooking the taco meat and I was on veggies and organizing everything on the table. We stayed in our own lane and it all came together at the end.”

The most critical part of taco’s is the meat and that responsibility went to Monias who explains his process. “I started cooking the hamburger… actually, it’s pretty simple. Added the taco seasoning and the onion powder. Cooked that up and then left the rest to Kyle.”

“I basically just got the cheese and shredded it.” Crewe explained his role in executing a perfect taco night. “Cut some lettuce and washed it. Pulled the salsa and everything out of the fridge and put it on the table. Popped some tortillas into the oven and bam.”

The key to any taco night is the shell. Soft or hard shell.

“We had a mixture” Crewe says. “I eat the hard tacos and everyone else had the soft. I got all the hard tacos to myself cause no one wanted them, so I was like ‘okay, I’ll eat all of these and get them out of the way.”

Here is how Ryan Monias and Kyle Crewe create their tacos.

Crewe: Hard taco shell, taco meat, cheese, lettuce and pack it all down with salsa.

Monias: Soft taco, taco meat, lettuce then the cheese, then the salsa. “I’m not the best at wrapping it up but I did my best.” Monias adds with a laugh.

Giving back to the billets meant a lot to Monias. “I’ve been here for almost two months and it’s my first time living away from home. They’ve been so great, it meant a lot to give them something.”

There are more kitchen adventures coming as Crewe details what they’re working on for the weeks to come.

“We’re thinking of homemade pizza. Down the road, we’re thinking of maybe baking some cookies… if we’re feeling up to it.”

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

With the province going into Level Red, we knew things were going to change and it was announced the MJHL has paused all activity till 2021.

As a fan, I’m disappointed it had to come to this. As a rational human being, it’s a great way to display what they’ve said all along, that health and safety comes first.

I hope we can all do our part to helping the province and each other get through this.

Let’s be selfless. Let’s wear our mask and let’s make some adjustments to our lifestyles.

It’s not just for us but for those around us.

Take 1: All the teams across the MJHL did a great job putting something on social media about Remembrance Day. Teams across the league would normally have done something in the arena but because of no games, this was the next best way to show respect and it’s cool to see the different accounts put their own creativity on it. If you don’t follow all MJHL teams on Twitter, you should.

Take 2: The final game of 2020 was Saturday, November 7th, a win for the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. There are a few teams that were rolling before the pause and Wayway at 7-3 was one of them. Jaymes Knee broke out with a pair of goals and Wolverine fans are hoping he can carry that positive momentum over to 2021.

Take 3: The final goal of 2020 was scored by Mack Belinski of Wayway. The first goal of 2020 was scored by Carter Loney of the Steinbach Pistons on January 3rd.

Take 4: There will be 53 days between the last game of 2020 and the first game 2021 (fingers AND toes crossed) January 1st.

Take 5: I’m pretty sure the only way you’d stop Virden from winning is to literally pause the league. A come from behind win over Swan Valley marks that point as even down two in the third, they manage to come back and win. Hunter Cloutier has 6 goals and 11 assists at the pause. He’s put-up points in all but 2 games this year for the Oil Caps. Oh, he also had 5 in that last game vs the Stamps.

Take 6: Mo-vember causes are always great… even if the mustaches on some of the guys are not. It takes a lot to rock a dirty duster proudly. But it’s so much more than that for Steinbach Piston Zac Patrick. The story is up on the MJHL website and for anyone that’s had a family member impacted by cancer, it’s a must read. Wishing the Patrick family all the best. The Pistons are raising money for Cancer Care Manitoba and here’s the link to get involved. Right now, they’re over $4,300!

Take 7: If you’re looking for a hockey fix until the MJHL comes back, take a look at the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL. There’s something really special happening there. They are a legit power house and easily top 3 if not THE top of the class in the entire CJHL.

Take 8: In Alberta, they’ve announced things will start up this weekend. Judging by the exhibition season where some teams played 10 games and others 2, safe to say nothing can really be figured out just yet. Except the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Brooks Bandits are once again really, really good.

Take 9: The BCHL has had to delay things. They wanted to get started this weekend as well but COVID ruined that. The league announced they’ve cancelled 7 games between Nov. 13th and 21st. Welcome to the canceled games club, BCHL. It sucks. You’re gonna hate it.

Take 10: If you’re still looking for a hockey fix, why not learn a little about hockey history? Go watch the movie Miricle, it’s a classic. If you can find it, the CBC did a documentary style movie on the ’72 Summit Series which is fantastic. Heck, watch anything about the ’72 Summit Series and you’ll be happier for it.

Take 11: I fully support the idea of their being 2 Masters ever year. If you had plans for Saturday and Sunday that do not involve couching and golf, you need to cancel them and sit on the couch and watch golf. Especially if Tiger is in the hunt. Does anyone wear red on Sunday better?

Take 12: Speaking of the Masters, shoutout to former MJHL’er Scott Mikoski who put together a great Masters pool filled with current and former players. The winning’s are high but the bragging rights among the ones involved are even higher. Yes, I’m involved and yes, I took Dechambeau…. no Tiger either…. not liking my chances.

A message from the Commissioner

To our Fans, Sponsors & Hockey Community…

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League along with all of you have been faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances which challenge our way of life.

Along with all Manitoba Businesses and Community groups we worked shoulder to shoulder with our Government Liaisons and Public Health Authorities to put in place protocols that would keep our employee’s, players, and patrons safe.

We worked diligently with Hockey Canada, Sport Manitoba and Hockey Manitoba to put in extensive Hockey specific protocols which would allow us to Return to Play in a safe manner, while balancing the Social/Mental/Physical health and safety of our Players, Staff and general public.

We have shown without question that the Manitoba Junior Hockey League can offer hockey in a safe environment.

Since early summer, we worked diligently to put develop a phased in approach for Return to Play Protocols which have been incorporated by minor hockey and across the Junior Hockey Leagues in Canada.

We have been leaders throughout through our efforts to help allow hockey to be played in a safe and structured environment.

We were the first Junior Hockey League in Canada to receive approvals across the various regulating authorities to resume the game of hockey.

All of our member teams have been successful in their contribution to the Social, Mental, Physical, and economic fabric of our Communities.

We are going to regroup, refocus, and reflect on what has worked well this season to date and areas for improvement.

We appreciate your support and understanding when we return better than ever.

Kevin Saurette
MJHL Commissioner

MJHL pauses hockey activities until 2021

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) has announced that all hockey activities have been paused effective immediately until the beginning of 2021.

As of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, the entire province of Manitoba has moved to the Critical level (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System to halt COVID-19 transmission and protect Manitoba’s citizens.  These Public Health Orders will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on December 11, 2020 at minimum.

The tentative date planned for hockey activities to resume is Friday, January 1st, 2021 which would be dependent upon public health guidance as outlined in the #RestartMB Pandemic COVID-19 Response System.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as the MJHL along with entire province of Manitoba works through this challenging time.

Please stay tuned for upcoming schedule announcements in the coming weeks.

Stay safe!

For all media inquiries, please email media@mjhlhockey.ca

MJHL Power Rankings | 2020-21 Week 5


  1. (8-0-1-0) Previous: 1st
    The Virden Oil Capitals took part in one game last week and were successful, beating the Swan Valley Stampeders 5-4 at Tundra Oil & Gas Place.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: (F) Hunter Cloutier – 2G, 3A in 1GP last week.
  2. (5-0-0-1) Previous: 2nd
    The Winnipeg Blues did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch:NA  
  3. (5-1-0-1) Previous: 4th
    The Steinbach Pistons did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: NA
  4. (7-3-0-0) Previous: 6th
    A couple wins has the Waywayseecappo Wolverines climbing the standings. They are now up to 4th in the league standings after two wins over Neepawa.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: (D) Chad Nychuk – 4A in 2GP last week. 
  5. (4-3-0-1) Previous: 6th
    The Portage Terriers did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: NA
  6. (5-4-0-0) Previous: 5th
    One game and one loss for the Swan Valley Stampeders. After a hot start to the season Swan Valley has now dropped four of their last five.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: (F) Carter Cockburn – 2G in 1GP last week.
  7. (1-4-1-0) Previous: 7th
    The OCN Blizzard did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: NA 
  8. (3-3-0-0) Previous: 8th
    The Dauphin Kings did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
     Player to watch: NA   
  9. (3-5-0-0) Previous: 9th
    The Selkirk Steelers did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: NA
  10. (3-5-0-0) Previous: 10th
    The Winkler Flyers did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: (F) Kolton Shindle – 3G in 2GP last week.
  11. (2-6-2-0) Previous: 11th
    Neepawa played in two contests last week but dropped them both, falling 4-3 and 6-1 to the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: (F) Will Highet – 2G in 2GP last week.
  12. (0-4-0-1) Previous: 12th
    The Winnipeg Freeze did not play last week.
    Schedule this week: OFF
    Player to watch: NA    

Lest we forget | Turnbull Memorial Trophy

Upon the conclusion of each MJHL championship series, the Turnbull Memorial Trophy is awarded to the team who comes away victorious.

Astoundingly as one of the oldest trophies in junior hockey, across the world, the Turnbull Memorial Trophy has been coveted for over 100 years.  Donated in 1920 in honour of Capt. Walter James “Ollie” Turnbull, Canadian Army (Field Artillery 10th Bde.) veteran of World War I.  Turnbull was killed in active duty in 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross for Bravery.

Son of James Holt and Sarah Turnbull, of Winnipeg, Manitoba; husband of Evangeline Bancroft Turnbull, of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Please consider making a donation to the Poppy Fund.

Movember an extra important cause for Pistons’ Patrick

Courtesy of Steinbach Pistons

The month of November, or ‘Movember’ as it’s now commonly known, may be a time where men get to grow out and dye their moustaches throughout the 30 days of the second last month of a calendar year.

But for Pistons defenceman Zac Patrick, Movember is a little more important this time around.

Patrick is currently in his first year with the Pistons after spending the majority of his career in the Western Hockey League with the Kootenay ICE. The 19-year-old d-man from Winnipeg currently has had a solid start to the 2020-21 season with a goal and an assist through eight games. And there’s been extra motivation for him knowing that he has a couple of special people watching every game back at home.

Patrick’s grandparents, Jim and Ruby, make sure that if they can’t make it out to games, which they haven’t been able to this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that they watch every single game of his on HockeyTV.

“(They’ve) been one of, if not the biggest supporters of me in hockey and in life,” Zac said. “From the start of my hockey all the way until now they always find a way to make the game or watching it on TV, and (Jim) was always there to drive me to practices or games if I ever needed it.

“Over the past couple of years with playing junior hockey away from home, he’s travelled across provinces to come watch me play,” he continued. “He always makes sure that he tells me how proud of me he is to see me play.”

But things began to change for the Patrick family this past July, when Jim was diagnosed with stomach cancer that has now spread.

“He’s just been staying at home on the couch for most of the day, as he’s been gradually getting weaker over the past month,” Zac explained. “He’s been a role model for me in my life because he’s always been such a kind, happy man who’s always smiling and never fails to put a smile on other’s faces, and making sure everyone is happy and enjoying themselves. Even now when he isn’t doing well, he’s always doing that.”

When the team kickstarted their Movember campaign last week, Patrick was one of the first in the dressing room to quickly jump on board. Movember is a cause around the world that raises awareness about men’s health issues, such as cancer, mental health, and even suicide awareness as well.

Patrick says it means the world to him and his family knowing that the Pistons and his teammates are fighting this sickness. “Especially now being away from home and with COVID, at times I feel helpless in the way that I can’t be with him other than on FaceTime. It does take a toll not knowing what to do or how to help, but with knowing the whole organization is doing their part to raise awareness and money for cancer, I’m really appreciative and proud to be a part of the difference.”

The Pistons have currently raised just over $3,500 after starting to collect donations last week Tuesday. Three brand-new special edition Movember jerseys, designed by local graphic and jersey guru Tyson Kehler at Fifth Corner Graphic Design, have been created. The largest donor to the team’s Movember page, one random donor, and the Piston player who has raised the most will get the opportunity to take these sweaters home at the end of the month.

But even in spite of that, Patrick urges those who are looking to donate, or may be unsure, that every little bit helps those who are battling cancer, including his grandpa. “Helping to fund research into cancer is invaluable to families who have been and are being affected by it,” he explained. “Like I said before, it’s a very heart wrenching feeling watching a family member have to go through this and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.

“By raising money for this cause, you are helping the cause of preventing more families from having to go through this experience, and you would be making a difference. No matter the amount.”

Click the link below to donate to the Pistons Movember page, and help families like the Patrick family in the fight against cancer and men’s health issues.

https://ca.movember.com/team/2393751

MJHL provides a further update regarding regional restrictions

Following the below decision announced by Hockey Manitoba on Monday, November 2:

The Hockey Manitoba Board of Directors announced that all hockey teams and individuals (players, team staff and officials) residing in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region are ineligible to participate in hockey programming effective immediately.

The above restrictions include travelling outside of all regions identified as Critical (Red) to participate in sanctioned hockey activities.

This was the direction provided to all member teams internally and was outlined in a statement made publicly Monday afternoon by the MJHL.

As such, any hockey activity that takes place outside the above Hockey Manitoba restrictions for regions identified as Critical (Red) is not permitted and is not sanctioned by Hockey Manitoba, the governing body of the MJHL.

Any teams or individuals who participate(d) in hockey activities outside of the above restrictions would be choosing to do so in an un-sanctioned environment outside of Hockey Manitoba and MJHL jurisdiction.

The MJHL will provide no further public statement regarding the restrictions outlined above.

In response to the announcement made on Tuesday, November 10, that the entire province of Manitoba will move into Level Red or critical on Thursday, November 12, the MJHL Board of Governors will be meeting on Wednesday, November 11 to further discuss the current situation – Please stay tuned for important announcements in the upcoming days.

MJHL provides current COVID-19 status update

To date, the MJHL has recorded four positive test results involving two unrelated organizations since team hockey activities began in early September.

The first organization had one player test positive who was exposed to the virus outside of the team cohort and community.  The asymptomatic individual immediately went into self-isolation and all potential close contacts were notified.  To date there have been no further positive cases associated with the individual.  All identified close contacts are currently in self-isolation while continuing to self monitor for symptoms as instructed by public health.  All games involving the organization have been postponed until the necessary self-isolation period is completed.  No further positive cases are expected involving this situation.

The second organization has had three individuals test positive.  It is not yet determined by public health if the cases are related or if they were exposed to the virus outside of the team cohort environment and community.  The organization proactively instructed all potential close contacts to self-isolate in advance of receiving test results due to the individuals experiencing flu like symptoms.  All identified close contacts are currently in self-isolation while continuing to self monitor for symptoms as instructed by public health.  All games involving the organization have been postponed until the necessary self-isolation period is completed.  No further cases are expected regarding this situation.

The affected individuals are feeling well and are expected to be fit to return upon resumption of their individual schedules.

Each organization continues to follow the MJHL Return to Play Guidelines, current Manitoba Public Health Orders while working closely with public health officials.

MJHL Facilities have and continue to receive Public Health audits.  The reports received contained minor concerns which have been addressed with each facility.

The MJHL will continue to provide periodic updates going forward.

The MJHL respectfully requests that the privacy of all individuals and organizations be adhered to and that stigmatization of any individual or organization be avoided at all times.  All individuals in the MJHL have been encouraged to come forward when having symptoms or being identified as a potential close contact to exposure.  The MJHL is very proud of all the individuals to date who have came forward and expect and encourage individuals to continue to come forward with any potential concerns.

Public Health are the only informed authority to provide public information via daily bulletins on possible exposure, close contact to exposure or the declaration of an outbreak.  The MJHL will adhere to these Public Health Protocols concerning any COVID related public announcement.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

MJHL provides regional restriction updates

MJHL teams have moved into the first planned break week of the regular season with no games currently planned for the upcoming weekend at this time – MJHL game action is set to resume on Friday, November 20th.

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League made the decision to significantly reduce the 2020/21 schedule this season while also implementing self-imposed breaks knowing the significant challenges that would be faced throughout the season.  The implementation of breaks have proven essential to provide flexibility to the schedule and to provide a necessary buffer for teams to recover from COVID-19 implications, postponements and/or weather related disruption.

As per the announcement by Manitoba’s public health officials this past Friday regarding the Southern Health-Santé Sud Region joining the Winnipeg Metro Region in being upgraded to Critical – Red under the Pandemic Response System:

Effective Monday, November 9, 2020.

  • All casinos, VLTs, recreational facilities, group sports, arcades, bowling alleys, all indoor and outdoor sport facilities, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls are closed.

MJHL teams currently affected by the above restrictions and whose locations reside within critical red regions include:

Winnipeg Metro Region:  Winnipeg Blues, Winnipeg Freeze and Selkirk Steelers

Southern Health-Sante Region:  Steinbach Pistons, Winkler Flyers and Portage Terriers

These teams are not permitted at this time to travel outside the region to participate in sanctioned hockey activities.

As per the #ResponseMB Pandemic Response System as it relates to the rest of the province, the remaining six MJHL organizations are located in regions that have been moved to Restricted (Orange).

Sports and Recreational Facilities:

  • Fitness clubs, gyms and training facilities, martial arts, gymnastic clubs, yoga studios and dance, theatre and music schools must remain at occupancy levels of 25 per cent or one person per 10 square metres, whichever is less.
  • Contact information must be collected for all attendees.
  • Mask use is required except when doing physical activity.

This includes:

Prairie Mountain Health Region: Neepawa Natives, Virden Oil Capitals, Waywayseecappo Wolverines, Dauphin Kings, and Swan Valley Stampeders

Northern Health Region: OCN Blizzard

The MJHL Board of Governors will be meeting this week to further discuss the situation – Please stay tuned for upcoming schedule announcements in the coming days.

As always, we appreciate the continued support of the entire MJHL community as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented and difficult challenges together.

The MJHL would also like to acknowledge the outstanding support and commitment provided by league corporate partners in the midst of these difficult times.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

For all media inquiries, please email media@mjhlhockey.ca

Players of the Month | OCT 2020

October 2020   |  The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is pleased to announce the Players of the the Month supported by IBAM, Farmery Estate Brewery, RBC, APTN, and Manitoba Pork:

IBAM Rookie:  Hughie Hooker, Winnipeg Blues (D/’03) 6GP, 2G-5A, 7PTS
Honourable Mentions: A.Ingram (SEL), Q.Mulder (SVS)

Farmery Brewery Goaltender: Kyle Kozma, Virden Oil Capitals (G/’01) 6W, 194SVS, 2.42GAA, .919SV%
Honourable Mentions: C.Hatfield (WPB), C.Fines (POR)

APTN Defenceman: Logan Rands, Virden Oil Capitals (D/’01) 7GP, 1G-7A, 8PTS
Honourable Mentions: J.Betcher (SVS), P.Malchuk (DAU)

RBC Player of the Month: Mackenzie Belinski, Waywayseecappo Wolverines (F/’00) 8GP, 7G-7A, 14PTS, 5PP-PTS, 2SH-PTS, 2GWG

Honourable Mentions: B.Foreman (WPB), H.Delorme (SVS)

MB Pork Peak Performer: Ty Naaykens, Steinbach Pistons (F/’01) – While providing consistent leadership by example on & off the ice for the Pistons, Naaykens produced 3G & 9A in 8 games and was also named Steinbach’s Player of the Month.

Blues Ride Inside fundraising efforts reach $20K

When the Winnipeg Blues were shut down this earlier this week, it became quite apparent that the team would need to find a unique way to stay connected during difficult times.

Look no further than the 2020 Ride Inside Wheel with the Wheelers – A cancer fundraiser led by Winnipeg Jets captain, Blake Wheeler that is aimed toward supporting PROFYLE at CancerCare Manitoba. Short for PRecision Oncology For Young peopLE, this initiative gives children, adolescents and young adults who are out of conventional treatment options another chance to beat their cancer.

“At the start of the year we were thinking of team building activities we could do,” shared Blues Head Coach & General Manager, Taras McEwen. “It became evident, that with the restrictions in place we would have to think outside the box. Brian Foreman (Brayden Foreman’s dad) approached us about this great initiative and we jumped at the idea of getting the players together and raising money for a great cause.”

“As a team, we were able to work together on something positive, something that made a difference. Our players and staff have a competitive spirit which has helped us to exceed our expectations over and over again. I am very proud of what we have accomplished,” McEwen concluded.

According to McEwen, Blues captain, Brayden Foreman was a big part of the teams success during their fundraising efforts. When asked about why it means so much to the Blues, Foreman was quick to point to the impact cancer has had on so many members of the team.

“I think most people you would talk to on our team have been affected one way or another through cancer whether it’s a family member or a friend and when we saw that Blake Wheeler was being a front runner for this initiative, it was really cool for us to see that,” Foreman explained.

“I don’t think any of us really imagined that we would raise over twenty thousand dollars collectively as a team. Our original goal was to reach ten thousand but we continued to see the generosity and that number grew and grew. It was really incredible to reach that twenty thousand dollar mark.”

When it was all said and done, the Blues raised an outstanding $20,300 that will go directly towards helping Cancer Care Manitoba.

“It’s tough on everybody with our season at a bit of a stand still right now, especially with the start our team got off to but we’ve all been keeping in touch whether it’s playing video games together or just checking up on everybody on a day to day basis. We’re all very excited for when we get the news to start again,” Foreman finished.

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony has been a broadcaster in the MJHL for the past 7 seasons. Every week, he’ll share a thought on the 12 teams in the MJHL and other things from across the league.

Before we get started, something that obviously needs to be talked about.

We all knew there was a pretty good chance the MJHL would be affected by COVID-19 this season.

It happened, it was expected and the MJHL will continue to move forward as it has since September in a safe, structured and responsible manner.

Take 1: The OCN Blizzard must have been watching Happy Gilmore over the past couple weeks as they’ve learned to harness energy, block bad. Off to a dreadful start to the season and down 4-1 in the first period to the Dauphin Kings, the Blizzard went to work and scored 6 straight goals to grab their first victory. Congrats to Billy Keane on his first win as Head Coach and GM of the Blizzard.

Take 2: Dauphin was on the other side of that comeback and while I’m sure their disappointed, one player they can’t be anything but thrilled with is Charles Massey. The Quebec native has exploded onto the MJHL scene after spending last year in the United States Premier Hockey League. He has 7 goals in 6 games including scoring in 5 straight contests. He hopes to play college hockey and if he keeps up this pace, he’ll have his choice of programs.

Take 3: Sticking with Dauphin, I wondered why it seems Nakodan Greyeyes has been so quiet to start the season… a couple of clicks on mjhlhockey.ca and that question was quickly answered. He’s played in one game. He had an assist. He’s a point-per-game player. So basically, he’s still Nakodan Greyeyes.

Take 4: Waywayseecappo is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to rinks in the MJHL. Not sure how many fans from other teams have gone to see a game there. It also helps the team has been playing pretty well of late. Other teams have to earn what they get from the Wolverines. How about Mack Belinski who has 14 points in 8 games. Another guy to keep an eye on is former Parkland Ranger Tyson Zimmer who at 16-year-old has 5 points through 8 games. The Russell product was picked by the Brandon Wheat Kings 6th overall in 2019 and he’s learning from some solid vets in Wayway.

Take 5: Great touch by the Stamps putting a poppy on their helmets. Watching the fight in that division will be fascinating all season long. Gotta think that Swan goes where Mikael Foucher takes them and betting on the 20-year-old from St-Hubert, Quebec is a smart investment. Coming off a breakout season last year, he hasn’t missed a beat. His GAA is 1.35 and SV% .957 jump off the stats page. The Stampeders can score but it’ll be goal prevention against some major players on Dauphin, Waywayseecappo and OCN that will tell the tale. Foucher makes a lot of saves he should and a lot he shouldn’t but somehow does. Coaches dream keeper.

Take 6: Does anyone work as hard and keep as many things balanced as Benny Walchuk? The guy is just all over the place. From Swan Valley to the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires and Yorkton Terriers, all this guy knows is how to work hard and love hockey. Benny is taking part in Mo-Vember. Check out his twitter, @BennyGX94Sports to donate to his page. It’s a great cause and like trying to grow a sweet mustache, every little bit helps.

Take 7: New Piston Michael King exploded for a natural hat trick against the Steelers. It was the first ever hat trick in a Pistons debut plus it was the fastest in franchise history, breaking Hayden Goderis’ record from 2013-14. All three goals happened in the second period. He picked up another goal in the second period of the next game. Also, an assist. My math says that’s 5 points in 2 games. He’s fit in magically with Codey Behun and Ty Naaykens. They really bring out the best in each other and its fun to watch… unless you’re the opponent. Then there is Matt Osadick and Rylan Bettens to contend with. Long story short, Steinbach is pretty deep upfront.

Take 8: Selkirk got a boost in the return of Tanner Pochipinski. Having to quarantine is tough mentally for anyone. When you’re far from home and can’t play hockey… the reason you’re there in the first place, I can’t imagine what that’s like. Pochipinski played on Saturday night and it had to feel good. The Steelers could use him too. Connor Roulette broke out for two points but the Steelers need scoring. They have the talent on the roster to get it and their goalie holds them in. But they got to get the power play going. 2 for 21 just won’t cut it. They’re too talented to have that number stay that low.

Take 9: Portage had to move their tribute to Geno because of provincial Covid restrictions. The team released that due to uncertainty of Covid, they do not have a future date determined. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later. The decision to postpone must have been hard but giving Geno the tribute, he deserves, with what friends and family could be in attendance, means more than the date. Also, Cody Buhler, sales and marketing director for the Terriers who also does their play-by-play, celebrated a birthday this week, so happy birthday!

Take 10: Teams do the 7th skater and it’s always great. Neepawa let Chance Duggan right down where the players were getting ready to come out and even got a picture next to one of the guys. Standing on the blue line is a thrill at any age but especially for young kids. Love to see it. Also, looking at the video Neepawa posted earlier this week, keep your head up when Rhys Bremner is on the ice. This kid hits like a truck.

Take 11: Don’t know if fans will be able to buy tickets but if you’re in Virden or playing the Oil Capitals soon and you have the chance, snatch them up. Seeing Daemon Hunt in person is sure to be worth it. The defender who went 65th overall in the NHL Draft to the Minnesota Wild has 3 goals and 4 points in two games from the back end. Also, check out the plays of the week for a sweet celly. When you score like Hunt, you can celly hard.

Take 12: November is a time to remember and give thanks for those who’ve served. Scott Stroh, the man behind Junior Night In Manitoba, served in the military for 16 years. He’s been open about how things have not been easy at times. Scott is one of the most passionate people in the country when it comes to his love for hockey at the junior level. He travels around, takes pictures, tells stories and gives fans a unique perspective on the game. Find his work on twitter @juniornightMB. Keep up the great work, Scott.

And thank you for your service. #LestWeForget