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Dauphin Kings Neepawa Natives OCN Blizzard Portage Terriers Selkirk Steelers Steinbach Pistons Swan Valley Stampeders Virden Oil Capitals Wayway Wolverines Winkler Flyers Winnipeg Blues Winnipeg Freeze

MJHL continues partnership with Headcheck Health

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to continue its partnership with Headcheck Health.

The MJHL is committed to further advancing player safety standards by utilizing Headcheck Health through their concussion protocols and innovate concussion management software.

“Player safety is our number one priority and our partnership with Headcheck Health has been a very positive step in improving concussion understanding, identification, assessment and management throughout the MJHL,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“We are pleased to be able to provide our trainers and medical professionals with the best tools we can to help keep our players safe while playing the game they love.”

Headcheck Health has been a partner of the MJHL since the beginning of the 2018-19 regular season.

 

Back to Hockey | Ben Hilhorst

With under three weeks to go until the puck drops on 2020-21 in the MJHL, the end to last season may seem like a distant memory to most who have endured the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, including Ben Hilhorst who hopes to put last season behind him.

After spending his first two years in Neepawa, Hilhorst was traded early in his 19-year-old season to OCN where he capped off his first year in the north as Captain of the Blizzard.

“Towards the end of the year once we were eliminated from the race we were a bit discouraged,” Hilhorst said of the Blizzard in 2019-20. “We agreed that coming into next season, things had to change a lot.”

“At the start of summer there wasn’t a whole lot to do, lately I’ve just been trying to do as much as I can, trying to get prepared for the season as best as possible.”

Getting prepared for the upcoming season included recovering from ventral hernia surgery that was taken care of earlier this summer before the 6-foot-1, 195-pound defender could hit the ice for full contact.

Feeling healthy as he approaches his final season in the league, Hilhorst is ready to help lead the newest members of the OCN Blizzard.

“I’m very excited for this season, with it being my last year, I’m excited to be in the role of showing the ropes to the younger guys coming in. I’m going to try to take it all in and hopefully make a playoff run to finish it all off.”

“With the role I was given, I want to do as much as I can to guide the team in the right direction from the start of the season. Building our identity and turning the culture around is important. I’m trying to have a good year for myself as well to try and further my hockey career.”

Finishing 16-39-5-0 last season, the Blizzard missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year which triggered a change at the helm of the club. In mid-July, OCN announced the hiring of veteran MJHL coach, Billy Keane which Hilhorst says will be a welcomed addition.

“Coming off last year, a fresh start will be good for the team. Bringing some experience in with Billy behind the bench will be a positive shift for the team for sure. I think it will be great for us having him running the show. He’s had success coaching at numerous levels and I think it will be a big part of us molding our team and finding our identity.”

“Getting into the grind and being around with the guys is great. Going through it all with the team, I’m looking forward to doing it one more time,” Hilhorst concluded.

MJHL announces partnership with The Coaches Site

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce a partnership with The Coaches Site.

The Coaches Site is an online resource that provides the tools necessary for coaches to improve through informative discussion, video instruction, articles and interviews with some of the best and brightest minds in the game of hockey.

“We are excited to work with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and support its coaches in providing an enhanced development opportunity for their players,” stated Aaron Wilbur, Founder and CEO of The Coaches Site. “The MJHL has established itself as one of the top junior leagues in North America and not only produces players for the next stage of their career, but coaches as well.”

In celebration of the return of hockey and the upcoming season, The Coaches Site will be hosting its inaugural Virtual Hockey Summit powered by TeamSnap on September 25 & 26, 2020. The event will feature some of hockey’s top coaches, trainers and executives, along with experts in human performance.

Presenters for the Virtual Hockey Summit include Rod Brind’Amour (Head Coach, Carolina Hurricanes), Brad Treliving (General Manager, Calgary Flames), Glen Gulutzan (Assistant Coach, Edmonton Oilers), Cammi Granato (Pro Scout, Seattle Kraken & member of the HHOF) along with many others.

The agenda features technical presentations, interviews, panel discussions and on-ice demonstrations suitable for coaches of all levels. Presentations will also cover topics such as having positive conversations about racial diversity with players and how to enhance opportunities for women in hockey.

“The Coaches Site is an amazing resource for coaches at all levels and we are excited to embark on and continue to grow this relationship moving forward,” said Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner. “One of our key objectives is to provide development opportunities, on and off the ice for both players and team personnel, and this partnership will aid us in that commitment.

MJHL coaches will have the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Virtual Hockey Summit launching next weekend.

MJHL unveils new mobile app powered by HockeyTech

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to unveil its upgraded mobile app powered by HockeyTech ahead of the 2020-21 season.

MJHL fans can get the latest league news, standings, and stats in the palm of their hand by searching ‘MJHL’ in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store for Android users.

Users may notice updates and further upgrades to the app closer to the start of the regular season.

 

Back to Hockey | Lane Kirk

If there’s one feeling most players from the MJHL share in regards to the 2019-20 season, it would likely be the disappointment felt surrounding the end to the 2020 post-season.

When the global pandemic forced the league to cancel the remainder of playoffs, Lane Kirk and his Swan Valley Stampeders were fresh off a lopsided, 10-1, game three win over the Wolverines on home ice.

With a 2-1 series lead, Kirk and the rest of his teammates were poised to return to Waywayseecappo for game four when the hammer dropped on 2020.

“It wasn’t the news we were looking to hear after a game like that. We needed a bounce back game in game three and that’s what we got, to hear it was all over was definitely tough news,” Kirk explained.

Luckily for Kirk, things didn’t change too much when the season ended as the now 20-year-old veteran was able to continue his job. The one change Kirk has noticed, is when it comes to playing the game he loves in the midst of a global pandemic.

“I’ve been able to work throughout the whole pandemic at the local credit union here in Swan. I’ve been playing a lot of golf and working out. Other than that, it hasn’t been too much, just hanging around home.”

“I’ve been able to skate a few times in the city. It’s definitely different, you walk in one door and leave out a different one. There’s tape all over the floor, tape in the dressing rooms so you’re not sitting so close to your buddies, it’s a bit of a change.”

While there may be a difference from last season to now, Manitobans can feel fortunate that they’ve been afforded the opportunity to watch meaningful MJHL games come October.

It’s no different for Lane Kirk as he gets to do something only a handful of young kids can dream about. When he steps on the ice in 2020-21, it will be his fifth season playing for his hometown Stampeders which is something he didn’t think was possible.

“I don’t know if there’s words to describe it,” Kirk shared with a laugh. “It feels like its been a while, it being my last year I really can’t wait to get things under way. I don’t think we want ever to set the bar too high, but we’re definitely going to have a good squad here in Swan for my last year, anything’s possible.”

“It’s crazy to think about. Growing up as a kid you never know if you’ll ever make the team let alone play for them for five years. Being a home-town kid, it’s pretty crazy, I remember being a young guy sitting across from the 20-year-old’s who looked like they could be my dad and now I’m that guy,” Kirk concluded.

CJHL recognizes Paul Dyck for World Jr. A Challenge

Courtesy of Canadian Junior Hockey League

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Monday the coaching staffs of Canada East and Canada West, who had been chosen to guide their respective sides at the 2020 World Junior A Challenge, which was to have taken place this December in Cornwall, Ont., but was cancelled earlier this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Selected as head coach of Canada West was Brian Maloney (Chilliwack Chiefs) while his assistants were to be Paul Dyck (Steinbach Pistons/MJHL); Adam Manah (Sherwood Park Crusaders/AJHL) and Clayton Jardine (Camrose Kodiaks/AJHL).

As for Canada East, Martin Dagenais (Ottawa Jr. A Senators/CCHL) was tabbed as head coach for the 2020 team.

Chosen to work with Dagenais as assistant coaches were Corey Beer (Timmins Rock/NOJHL); Dan Sauve (Rockland Nationals/CCHL) and Simon Olivier (Everest de la Côte-du-Sud/LHJAAAQ).

“While the cancellation of the annual World Junior A Challenge is a disappointment, we are all supportive of the process undertaken to arrive at the decision and of the decision itself,” stated CJHL president Brent Ladds.

“Ensuring the safety of our athletes, officials, volunteers, staff and fans is paramount during these current conditions. We appreciate the support we received through the evaluation process from Hockey Canada and the National Hockey League,” added Ladds.

“We are grateful to the host committee in Cornwall, Ont., for their never wavering commitment and look forward to working with them again.”

The CJHL president also offered further sentiments.

“My sincere thanks to all the individuals who applied for positions with both Team East and Team West and to Mark Grady, director of operations for Team East, and Jamie McCaig, director of operations for Team West for their patience and efforts throughout this process.”

“I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the successful coaching applicants who would have been on-site for this year’s event. I know that in the tradition of the WJAC, the Canadian teams would have represented Hockey Canada, the CJHL and our country in a manner, that would have made us very proud.”

With their respective clubs in 2019-20, the eight coaches that were selected to be behind the bench at the 2020 WJAC, led their teams to a combined overall regular season record of 291-137-34, while producing a total winning percentage of .667.

“There was an extraordinary group of high-quality coaches that applied for positions with Team Canada East,” provided Grady, who was to head up the east.

“Three of the candidates who were selected for this year’s squad were members of Canada East in 2019 in Dawson Creek, B.C. where TCE fell short, in double overtime, against Russia in the gold medal game,” added Grady.

The fourth member of the 2020 staff, Simon Olivier from the QJAAAHL, was of great assistance in identifying players from Quebec for last year’s entry in Dawson Creek. All four of these men operate great programs in the CJHL and I look forward to working with all of them again in the future.”

For his part, McCaig too echoed the thoughts of both Ladds and Grady.

“Its unfortunate that the 2020 WJAC was officially cancelled, but in times like these, everyone’s health and safety is much more important,” said McCaig.

“Having said that, we felt that announcing our selected staff was the right thing to do for the successful candidates, their respective club teams as well as their respective leagues,” he added.

“At the conclusion of a very thorough application and interview process, I am confident that we selected a first-class staff that would have represented the west very well.  All of these coaches deserve the honour and recognition that comes with being associated with Hockey Canada and the CJHL.”

Cornwall is expected to host the 2021 World Jr. A Challenge at a yet to be determined date.

Back to Hockey | Blake Burr

With a few games remaining in the 2019-20 MJHL regular season, the Selkirk Steelers held their own playoff destiny and just couldn’t quite find their way into the eighth and final spot.

For Blake Burr and his Selkirk Steelers, the end of their season came much quicker than anticipated but certainly poured plenty of fuel on the fire to find success in 2020-21.

“It was a tough end to our season,” Burr shared of missing the post-season. “We lost some guys at the trade deadline, we were playing well and the last month things turned and didn’t go our way. It was frustrating but it makes me want to do a lot better this year.”

“In Manitoba we’ve been lucky. I’ve been training and skating hard. For me the on ice is the same, but no showering after is different so you have to go home not smelling the best but other than that it’s pretty much the same.”

Last year was the first time Selkirk missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season. Burr said getting back into the upper echelon of the league is something that’s important for the Steelers who will look to make an impact when the puck drops on October 9th.

“I’m extremely excited, especially with the NHL on right now it makes you want it even more. With the way last year ended, you just want to get back out there, I’m looking forward to it.”

“Seeing the guys is a big part of it, being able to get out there and compete. It’s just something about it that’s really exciting.”

The feedback from players around the league has been similar – Manitoba is extremely fortunate to have a season and it’s something no one is taking for granted.

In Burr’s first two season’s in the MJHL, he posted back to back years with 24 assists. The biggest impact Burr made with the Steelers in year two was lighting the lamp 28 times, a 19-goal increase from his Rookie season and good enough for ninth in the MJHL.

“I was depended on a little more, I got a few more opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. Playing with some good players that I built some chemistry with helped but team success is much more important.”

“We want to set the expectations high, that’s really important, so you have something to work towards and keep up to. Hopefully we can put up a lot of wins this year and be in contention,” Burr concluded.

MJHL announces 2020-21 Regular Season schedule

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to officially announce the 2020-21 COVID-19 Modified Regular Season Schedule.

The 2020-21 regular season schedule has been significantly modified for the upcoming season from previous seasons with the health and safety of everyone involved being the number one priority.

“In the course of our planning for the upcoming season, it became clear that we had to further self-impose schedule modifications and restrictions to ensure that we were moving forward in a safe, structured and responsible manner.” stated MJHL Commissioner Kevin Saurette.  “Each organization is to be commended for their absolute commitment to providing players with a safe development opportunity on and off the ice in the face of the difficult challenges ahead.”

The schedule will span over 22 weekends beginning on October 9th and ending on March 13th.

The schedule is split into four five week blocks separated by breaks in the schedule.  The first self-imposed break is in the middle of November, followed by the traditional Christmas break and a further self-imposed break at the beginning of February.  The implementation of breaks were essential to provide a necessary buffer to recover from potential COVID-19 implications and/or weather related disruption.

2020-21 MJHL Regular Season Schedule

The schedule will be formatted into three four-team divisions to allow for:

  • Significantly limited provincial travel for teams.
  • Significantly minimizing the number of teams playing each other over a short period of time.
  • Significantly minimizing risk of exposure between teams.
  • Significantly reducing the number of potentially postponed (or cancelled) games due to potential COVID-19 implications.

Divisions

Northwest (Dauphin, OCN, Swan Valley, Wayway)

Interior (Neepawa, Portage, Virden, Winkler)

Southeast (Selkirk, Steinbach, Winnipeg Blues, Winnipeg Freeze)

Schedule Format

Each team will play the other three teams within their division eight times during the regular season (Four Home/Four Away).

Each team will play the eight teams outside of their division twice during the season.

Each team will play a 40-game regular season schedule which has been significantly reduced from the standard 60 game regular season schedule (20 Home/Twenty Away).

Each team will play two games a week and will only face one team each week.

Each team will play all of their games almost exclusively during the weekend this season (Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday).

Games scheduled within a teams own division are almost exclusively arranged in four game, two week blocks.

Playoff Format to be announced in the coming weeks.

As is the case for everyone throughout the province and beyond, these past months during the COVID-19 pandemic have placed significant financial stress on each MJHL team and community.  Additional stress will be felt as each organization prepares for what will be required for the upcoming season to ensure we return to hockey in a safe, controlled and responsible manner.  Teams will need and deserve all the necessary support they can be afforded during this difficult time as we prepare to return to the game we all love.

2020-21 Expansion Franchise Update

As earlier announced, an expansion franchise (Winnipeg Freeze) has been awarded to 50 Below Sports + Entertainment for the 2020-21 season and will join the MJHL as the 12th franchise for the upcoming season. The Winnipeg Freeze have also recently announced that they have named Josh Green as the first Head Coach and General Manager in franchise history.

The 50 Below Sports and Entertainment ownership team are familiar to the MJHL as they also own the Winnipeg Blues franchise.

The Winnipeg Freeze have been very busy moving forward with all necessary business and hockey operations planning as a new member of the Manitoba Junior Hockey league in preparation for the upcoming season – This includes building a successful team on and off the ice.

Please note the below points as it relates to Winnipeg Freeze Hockey Operations planning and building a competitive team for the upcoming season:

The Winnipeg Freeze are eligible to protect any un-listed free agents.

The Winnipeg Freeze are eligible to acquire players via trade.

The Winnipeg Freeze have been allotted six compensatory draft picks (to be implemented at the end of each of the six rounds for the upcoming MJHL Draft) in addition to the six customary draft picks as a member of the MJHL.  The compensatory picks may only be traded by the Winnipeg Freeze to another member team in the MJHL with the exception of the Winnipeg Blues – If a compensatory pick is not traded prior to the upcoming MJHL Draft, the pick will vanish.

Player movement between the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze will not be permitted after October 9th.

The Winnipeg Freeze have held a Player Identification Camp in preparation for the upcoming season which concludes today.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements in the coming days as we mover closer to Opening Weekend of the 2020-21 MJHL Season!

Winnipeg Freeze name Josh Green Head Coach & GM

Winnipeg, MB – The Winnipeg Freeze Hockey Club announced today that Josh Green will be the first Head Coach and General Manager in franchise history.

Green becomes the Head Coach and General Manager of the Winnipeg Freeze after spending one season as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg ICE in the Western Hockey League.  Before that, Josh spent one season as an assistant coach of the Winnipeg Blues in the MJHL in 2018-19.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be a head coach,” Said Josh Green.  “It’s a great opportunity to work and develop young hockey players who are looking to forward their hockey careers”

Prior to coaching, Josh Green’s playing career included five seasons in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks. He was close to a point per game player in the WHL registering 142 goals and 136 assists for 278 points in 282 games. Josh was selected in the second round (30th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1996 NHL Draft. Josh played parts of nine seasons in the NHL (with Los Angeles, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Edmonton, Washington,, Calgary and Vancouver) collecting 36 goals and 76 points in 341 games.

In addition to his time in the NHL, Josh also played 435 games in the American Hockey League and 278 games in Europe.

Lindsey Gullett | From the Oil Caps’ to the Oilers

Prior to his current role of Game Presentation Manager with the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League (NHL), Lindsey Gullett got his start in MJHL with the Virden Oil Capitals.

For two seasons, Gullett wore several different hats under his title of Sales & Marketing Manager, where he was able to earn valuable experience which helped launch his career into the sports & entertainment business.

“Looking back at it, the timing for me was great. Virden was a new organization and were one of the first teams to take the approach of hiring a Sales and Marketing Manager to handle sponsorships and help with the business side of the team,” Gullett shared.

“I was able to do everything. Being able to jump into a position where you’re able to be so hands on with the team in terms of working with season ticket holders, sponsorship’s, social media, website and game day experience, at the time I didn’t realize how valuable it was and how great of an experience it was. I really took a lot away from those two years.”

The return of the Manitoba Moose in 2015 sparked a new opportunity for Gullett to take his career to the professional ranks in his home province. After earning an interview with the club, Gullett would go on to accept the role of Game Producer.

Shortly after working his final event with the Oil Caps’ during the MJHL’s Draft in June, the product of Wawanesa, Manitoba, would officially make the jump to the American Hockey League (AHL).

“It was a big eye opener for me going from the Junior A level to the Moose where you’re dealing with a bigger arena, you have more tools and resources at your disposal. My very first game in my role was a sold out lower bowl for the return of the Moose. That might be one of the most important games I worked.”

“I had gone through a couple seasons with the Moose and an opportunity came up in Edmonton with the Oilers. The opportunity to work in the new arena (Rogers Place) with the structure of their Game Presentation team was something I couldn’t pass up for the growth of my career.”

Like many children who grew up in Canada with dreams of playing in the NHL, it was no different for Gullett who had similar aspirations.

Little did he know that his dream of making it to the NHL would come in business operations which he quickly credited his time in Virden for.

“Virden was such a good foot in the door and at the time, it was people like Dale Lewis and Troy Leslie, having their trust took me into the business side of things. I never really thought it would lead to where I am now. But being fortunate to meet the right people at the right time and just being curious. I’ve always tried to ask questions about how people do things and how things work, I’ve learnt so much along the way.”

“It’s definitely surreal to think about,” Gullett said of the opportunity to work with the Oilers. “If I wasn’t doing this I don’t know what I would be doing. It’s a treat to work in the building, getting to watch the players and working with the staff.”

When the NHL shut down near the beginning of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding the season moving forward. Gullett had just completed his third season with the Oilers and was in the same boat like many others, sitting and waiting to learn his fate.

As discussions started to heat up regarding the NHL’s Hub City model and return to hockey, the thought of Edmonton being selected as one of two hub cities quickly started to become a reality.

“When they started talking about the Hub City model in Edmonton, there were still 10 cities on the list, so I knew a lot of things needed to fall in place for it to happen. I had been on weekly Game Presentation calls with the all the teams from league discussing content and what the NHL would need for neutral site games leading up to the announcement. Then all of a sudden we were named the one of the hub cities and things started to happen very quickly. Credit to our OEG (Oilers Entertainment Group) executive team for the tremendous work that went on behind the scenes to bring this event to Rogers Place.”

With over 60 Western Conference playoff games in the books, there’s no question that Gullett and the rest of the NHL’s staff have been hard at work bringing the games to life without fans in attendance.

“The biggest honour is getting to wear a bunch of my league counterpart hats. When you’re doing three games in a day, you have an hour and twenty minutes between games to shift your focus. Kudos to our teams and the staff at the NHL for having everything organized so well.”

“The thing I’m the most proud of is serving the fan bases of each of these teams and the staff who work with these teams on a regular basis. We’re trying to replicate their home experiences and traditions as best as we can. We received a bunch of notes and watched video on how teams execute their goal calls and entrances on the ice. We took a lot of pride in trying to replicate the feel for not only the fans but have some audible familiarity for the players.”

“If you’re waiting in the tunnel to come out for the game, these players are use to hearing the same songs at the same times, so just considering the timing and how that would go we tried to do our best. I know we’re not perfect but we’re pretty close.”

Gullett also shared some key advice for anyone looking to make a career in not only the sports industry but for someone looking to advance their career in any professional work setting.

“One thing I would say is be open minded and be willing to make sacrifices. Sports jobs are highly sought after, some days it feels like work some days it doesn’t. If its something you want bad enough you have to be willing to make sacrifices.”

“For me, I’ve been fortunate to have the support of my family to be willing to come along for the ride. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I didn’t have that. Always be curious and continue to network and ask questions. You never know who’s watching or who you’re going to meet. Be respectful and humble, work hard and you’ll never know what will come of it,” Gullet concluded.

Back to Hockey | Jack Einarson

It’s been well over five months since the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the MJHL to shut down in the middle of the post-season with no return in sight.

For Jack Einarson and his Virden Oil Capitals, they were getting set for a pivotal game in their first round playoff series against the Winkler Flyers when it all came to an end. At the time, Virden held a 2-1 series lead and had set themselves up in a great position ahead of game four on home ice.

“It was crazy, we were getting ready to play game four and we got a text from our coach that we had a meeting at the rink right away, so it came to a stop quick that day,” shared Oil Capitals veteran, Jack Einarson. “It was pretty tough being right in middle of playoffs, we had to pack up and go home the next day.”

“I’ve just been working at the golf course, been golfing a lot and going to the gym. I’ve been trying to get back into the gym as much as possible this summer.”

When Einarson returns to the Southwest corner of the province in September, he’ll take to the ice for his fourth full season in the league. It’s something that’s been in the back of his mind since the abrupt ending to last season.

“I’m really excited to get the season going. From the unfortunate end to last year not getting any closure, I’m just excited to get back with the guys to the rink and to get the season going. I’m a really competitive guy when it comes to winning, it’s really great coming to the rink everyday and being with the guys.”

The 20-year-old forward saw another increase in point production last season, hitting the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Einarson also earned a spot on the 2020 MJHL | SJHL Showcase roster along with six of his Oil Caps’ teammates.

“I think it’s one hundred percent confidence,” Einarson shared of his personal success last season. “Over the years in Virden I’ve got more comfortable with more minutes in different situations. My confidence has gone up and that helped a lot last season.”

“We’re going to be a good team this year, we have a lot of returning guys so we’re looking to be one of the top teams. I think we’re going to do some interesting things this year. I’ve been looking forward to it all summer,” Einarson concluded.

In his first three seasons with Virden, Einarson and his Oil Capitals made the organizations first trip to the league final in 2017-18 during his rookie campaign, and have since followed that up with two straight trips to the postseason.

 

Expansion franchise awarded for 2020-21 season

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is proud to announce that an expansion franchise has been awarded to 50 Below Sports + Entertainment for the upcoming 2020-21 season – The new franchise will operate within the Winnipeg market.

The 12th MJHL franchise will enhance the flexibility needed to provide a schedule that reduces travel and assists with divisional alignment; both critical components to executing the MJHL approved Phase II Return to Play Plan.

“50 Below Sports + Entertainment, along with all of our member clubs, have really stepped up and put the players first to provide safe and competitive development conditions,” said Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner. “These are trying times as teams continue with necessary preparations for the difficult season ahead as we are all committed to developing our players in a safe, structured and responsible environment.”

Adding a second team in Winnipeg, led by a strong management and ownership team, provides further development opportunities for Manitoba hockey players to play elite Junior A Hockey within the province.

With the announcement, the MJHL returns to a 12-team league for the first time since the 2002-2003 season.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements from 50 Below Sports & Entertainment regarding the new Winnipeg MJHL Franchise in the coming days.

MJHL Set to Release 2020-2021 Schedule

The 2020-21 COVID-19 season schedule has been finalized and will be significantly modified from previous seasons to mitigate risk of spread or potential contact between multiple teams while allowing for minimal disruption of the schedule in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.  Full schedule announcement will be made next week.

MJHL Regular Season set to begin on Friday, October 9th.

MJHL Main Camps will begin on September 18th with no more than 34 players in attendance. Teams will play no more than three exhibition games in advance of the MJHL Regular Season.

Prospect Camps currently being held by MJHL teams in advance of September 18th and are following the MJHL Return to Play – Phase I Guidelines which have been in place since June 26th.  Full contact is not permitted during these camps.

As is the case for everyone throughout the province and beyond, these past months during the COVID-19 pandemic have placed significant financial stress on each MJHL team and community.  Additional stress will be felt as each organization prepares for what will be required for the upcoming season to ensure we return to hockey in a safe, controlled and responsible manner.

Each organization is to be commended for their absolute commitment to providing elite development opportunities both on and off the ice in the face of these financial challenges with the health and safety of all involved always being the number one priority. Teams will need and deserve all the support they can be afforded during this difficult time as we prepare to return to the game we all love.

Please stay tuned for further MJHL announcements in the coming weeks.

About the MJHL                                                                                                           

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.

Hockey Canada cancels 2020 World Junior A Challenge

Courtesy of Canadian Junior Hockey League

CALGARY, Alta. – Following the cancellation of the 2019-20 hockey season and all national championships in March, Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly with its host organizing committees for 2020 and beyond.

While a tremendous amount of work has gone into planning the fall 2020 events, the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a position where there is no further option other than to cancel three events, instead planning for their return in 2021 to the following communities:

    2020 World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20 in Cornwall, Ont.
•    2020 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8 in Dawson Creek, B.C.
•    2020 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12 in Bridgewater, N.S.

The following statement is on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer:

“At various rates, provinces from coast-to-coast-to-coast have started moving ahead with their phased re-opening, but as it has been since the season was cancelled, Hockey Canada’s priority remains the health and safety of all participants and the general public. We believe the decision to cancel these three events is the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic at the local level, as well as the international implications associated with these events.

Hockey Canada is grateful for the continued support of our local host committees and event partners, including BC Hockey, Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey Eastern Ontario, NHL Central Scouting, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) and the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). We appreciate the commitment and support of everyone involved and we look forward to showcasing some incredible hockey to fans next year.”

Back to Hockey | Gerrik Ripley

If last season’s performance from the Waywayseecappo Wolverines was any indication of what fans can expect in 2020-21, they could certainly be in for another strong season with a chance to make another jump.

Finishing with 8 wins just three seasons ago, the Wolverines put together their second best performance in their 21-year history last year, going 32-21-5-2, good enough for a fifth place finish. A piece of the Wolverines puzzle who is set to embark on his third and final season with the club is none other than Gerrik Ripley.

At the time of the league shutdown, the Wolverines had just lost game three of their best-of-seven series to the Swan Valley Stampeders after picking up the organizations first playoff victory in seven years during game two in Waywayseecappo.

“It all came so fast for everyone,” Ripley spoke of the abrupt ending to last season’s playoff series. “When playoffs started, no one imagined that the season would end. We got two games in and then you think okay, maybe we could actually get shut down.”

“You didn’t really have time to think about it until after. In the moment, it all happened so fast and it hits quick.”

The product of Leduc, Alberta, who served as an assistant captain for the club in 2019-20 says he took advantage of the situation and has been hard at work in the gym and on the ice in preparation for the new season.

“I have a home gym in my basement so I’ve been busy since I got home working out. I’ve been on the ice 4-5 times a week since around the end of July. I’m pumped to get back into things and get the season going, I had a good off season of training.”

It’s no surprise to hear excitement building across the league with the upcoming season around the corner and it’s no different for Ripley and the Wolverines who will try and build off of last seasons success.

“Everyone’s excited to get going. We’re pumped to be one of the only league’s starting. The disappointment with how things ended last year fuels the fire for this upcoming season, we’re ready to go.”

“It’s just being around the team and building those relationships with the guys. I can’t wait to get back and see everyone. I’m really excited to see everyone coming back, I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on us but we’re definitely going to have a good club and we’ll be ready to go when the puck drops on October 9,” Ripley concluded.

Mole, Kasowski & Graham named scholarship recipients

Each season, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) offers scholarships from the MJHL Scholarship Fund that exists to further academic goals and hockey development opportunities for qualified individuals.

Tanner Mole (Steinbach Pistons), Matthew Kasowski (Waywayseecappo Wolverines) and Declan Graham (Steinbach Pistons) have each been awarded a $1200 scholarship to a Canadian post-secondary institution by the MJHL. This year’s scholarship awards mark the tenth year of the MJHL Scholarship Fund.

“It was important for us to continue with the scholarships and we are pleased to be able to help support these deserving student-athletes during this difficult time.  We recognize the importance of post-secondary education along with the significant financial resources that are required to attend.  These scholarships will assist our graduating players to pursue their academic and sporting goals. The three players awarded are remarkable individuals on and off the ice, we wish them all the best,”  MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette shared.

MJHL Scholarships are provided to university and college bound players each season from a pool of applicants. The scholarship awards must be used by recipients for the cost of post-secondary education in the Canadian education system only. Funding for the MJHL Scholarship Fund is provided by corporate sponsorship and league fundraising efforts.

Tanner Mole | Steinbach Pistons

“It was definitely a special moment when I found out about being a recipient of the scholarship. I was fortunate enough to play three years in the league. Being able to be selected for this scholarship was an awesome ending to my time in the MJHL and I am thankful for it.”

“I will be putting my scholarship money towards my post-secondary education while hopefully furthering my hockey career. This will help me while I try to earn my degree.”

Matthew Kasowski | Waywayseecappo Wolverines

“Being a recipient, I feel honoured and lucky as I didn’t think I would get it, but thought taking some time out of my day to fill out some basic information for a chunk of tuition being paid off would be a great trade off. Being one of three guys to get it, I also feel exclusive and proud and hopefully be that example for next years recipients looking to take that step towards supporting their post secondary education.”

“The scholarship money will be going towards my tuition for this upcoming semester at Concordia University in Edmonton.”

Declan Graham | Steinbach Pistons

“It means a lot to be a recipient as I’ve always taken as much pride in my academic work as I do being an athlete, and so I think being a recipient speaks to that sentiment. The scholarship money will be used to help pay for my tuition at Wilfred Laurier University.”

Back to Hockey | Brayden Foreman

Coming into the 2019-20 season, the Winnipeg Blues saw a change in ownership, new colours, an updated logo and a completely new coaching staff.

Along with those changes came a large roster turnover. With expectations that there could be some growing pains for the youthful lineup from Winnipeg, came a chance to prove the naysayers wrong.

“Our big thing all year long was turn heads and prove we belong here,” shared Blues Captain, Brayden Foreman. “We were counted out from the start of the year, no one thought we would do anything with such a young team we brought in.”

“We made a trade for Mitchell Joss and him and Mikol Sartor were unbelievable for us last year. The last fifteen games of the year we were twelve or fourteen points out and Selkirk started to lose. We realized we really have an opportunity to make some noise. Getting those games and experience in the playoffs was huge for our young guys.”

Turn heads they did. Foreman and his Blues squad put together an impressive string of games down the stretch drive and beat the Selkirk Steelers in back-to-back games overtime contests to put the Blues in the eighth and final playoff spot.

While their season ended shortly before the league-wide shutdown after being swept by the Steinbach Pistons in the opening round of the playoffs, Foreman has stayed busy this summer and has been anxiously waiting for the puck to drop on a new season.

“It started slow but once everything started opening up I got a job at the rink and I’ve been working out and skating there every day. I’ve been pretty occupied so it’s been good for sure.”

“It’s something on my mind every day, I think a lot of our guys are really anxious to get started. I’ve been skating with a lot of my teammates over the summer and we’re just ready to get going. Once we all get back into the rink together and start practicing that excitement will be going around, it’s going to be a great time.”

In 2019-20, Foreman nearly doubled his offensive output, putting together 17 goals and 45 assists in 52 games. The soon-to-be 19-year-old was quick to credit his linemates when asked of his success and shared his hopes of turning some more heads in 2020-21.

“I think I gained a lot of confidence being put in a leadership role and being relied on by the coaching staff and my teammates. At the same time I was playing with two really good hockey players. I also spent time with Josiah Vanderhoft, we found instant chemistry after we acquired him in a trade.”

“We’re bringing back a young team with a good amount of veterans. Those veterans will be relied upon heavily to mentor the young guys and teach them how the league works. I think we will look to take that next step and turn some heads once again,” Foreman concluded.

 

Back to Hockey | Curtis Ireland

After sweeping the Winnipeg Blues in four straight games to open their 2020 playoff run, the Steinbach Pistons hopes of returning to the Turnbull Cup Championship series were also swept away in the process.

Just one day after their opening round series victory, Pistons veteran, Curtis Ireland and the rest of his teammates would receive news that the remainder of playoffs would be canceled.

“We felt pretty good about our team, we were playing some good playoff hockey,” Ireland said. “There was a lot of friendship and camaraderie that was going on in the season. After game four we heard some stuff going around and then a few things were coming out, we kind of had a feeling that we were going to get cancelled and it was pretty disappointing. It was understandable but still pretty tough finding that out.”

Following his return home where he spent a couple of months close to family, Ireland was able to return to a new normal on and off the ice as restrictions loosened around the province.

“When everything came to a halt, I came home and spent time with family. From there I got a job with the City of Winnipeg and I’ve been skating and training for a couple months, it’s been a good summer overall.”

“I think all hockey players were pretty eager to get back on the ice, nothing too much has changed and you still have to play hockey. There’s rules around the rink and in the dressing room to follow, it’s not too different for the most part.”

As the season inches closer, the excitement felt around the league is palpable. While a big part of the junior hockey experience is playing games, Ireland looked beyond that and shared his excitement to resume the relationships he’s built in Steinbach.

“Just seeing a few other leagues have been postponed, it’s going to be so exciting to get back with the team and see everyone you don’t get to see all the summer like my billets and coaches. A lot of guys I have really good friendships with, and not being able to see them has been tough. It’s really exciting to for sure.”

“For me there’s a lot of people that make junior hockey, the people in the community and people that are close to the team as well. You hang out with the guys and play a sixty game season, practice, work out and train with them everyday. You become really close with them and it’s obviously really fun when you’re with them all the time.”

While the disappointment in last seasons ending may sting for some, Ireland isn’t too worried about that. According to the veteran blue-liner, he’s going to control what he can control and let everything else take care of itself.

“I’m not going to worry about outside factors, I’m just going to be true to myself and play my game while being responsible defensively. I’ve been with Steinbach for quite a while now so being really familiar with the team helps. Being a role model, a leader and an acting member in the community is important.”

“We’ve always been competitive and always have had that type of team. We want to be a hard-working, hard-nosed team to play against that other teams know they’re in for a battle when they play us. Paul (Dyck) does a great job with us,” Ireland finished.

IBAM Scholarship awarded to Flyers’ Townsend

Winkler Flyers graduating forward, Jaden Townsend is this year’s recipient of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba (IBAM) Scholarship Award.

Townsend received a $2000 cheque from IBAM that will go towards his schooling this fall at the University of Manitoba. In a typical year, Townsend would have received his award at the IBAM Presidents Dinner but due to the ongoing pandemic, the dinner was cancelled.

“I’m honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 IBAM Scholarship Award,” Townsend shared. “This scholarship will greatly assist me in pursuing my post-secondary education.”

“I would like to thank the Winkler Flyers and Swan Valley Stampeders organizations for all their guidance and for providing me with an exceptional junior experience. I would also like to thank my teammates, billets and family in providing me the support I needed to achieve my goals.”

After spending three seasons with the Swan Valley Stampeders where he captained his club to an appearance in the MJHL finals in 2019, Townsend spent his 20-year-old season as captain of the Winkler Flyers after being acquired in an off-season trade. The Roblin, Manitoba product set a great example on and off the ice during his career with a commitment to leadership and community involvement.

The MJHL would like to thank IBAM for their continued support of junior hockey in the province and are grateful to present this scholarship opportunity to our players of the present and future.

About IBAM: The Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba (IBAM) is an organization representing over 2,600 employees, in 300 storefronts, in over 120 communities. The Association’s efforts – always with the best interests of consumers in mind and speaking with a collective voice as the insurance authority in Manitoba – is to ensure that insurance brokers remain the primary provider of insurance services in Manitoba.

Back to Hockey | Eli Lieffers

For players, staff and fans of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, it’s safe to say that the start of the 2020-21 regular season can’t come soon enough.

While Neepawa may have finished in eleventh for the second straight year, the organization made some important strides toward the end of their 2019-20 season. A big part of that growth was due to the play of Saskatoon native, Eli Lieffers.

“Last year was tough, there was a lot of one goal games,” Lieffers shared from his home in Saskatoon. “It was a good sign that we weren’t getting blown out every game, we were in most games. We were really focused on the community and giving back to the people of Neepawa.”

“We’ve been looking forward to this year after being eliminated from contention earlier last season. I think this coming season will be really good and we look forward to taking another step.”

Not only did the team take strides in a positive direction on the ice, Lieffers enjoyed his most successful season in the MJHL, leading his club in scoring with 19 goals and 24 assists. Knowing well that the 2020-21 season will be his final lap in junior hockey, Lieffers has committed himself to the game.

“I had a better individual year last season, I was able to put the puck in the net more. This year I’ll be looking to step into more of a leadership role, hopefully get some wins for the people of Neepawa and get into a playoff spot. It was a big summer for myself and a lot of guys on our team. This year coming back, I tried to get faster and stronger in the gym.”

When asked about getting the chance to return to hockey in today’s new normal, Lieffers couldn’t hold back his excitement when thinking of puck drop on October 9.

“I think about it everyday. I talk to the guys on the team almost every day about we want to do this season. It’s really exciting and we’re really looking forward to it. Ever since I got to Neepawa I’ve been blessed with the best billet parents I could ask for. I’m excited to see them, really everyone in Neepawa is a friendly face.”

“Kenny (Ken Pearson) and Robby (Robby Moar) have been doing great, we made some trades, have some key returning guys. Ever since I’ve been in Neepawa, we haven’t had a winning team, but coming into this season a big focus will be on the team coming together and gelling. I think we will come together and put some wins together, it should be a really good year,” Lieffers concluded.

Blues name Taras McEwen as Head Coach & GM

Winnipeg, MB – The Winnipeg Blues Hockey Club announced today that General Manager Taras McEwen will assume the responsibilities as Head Coach for the 2020-2021 season.

McEwen takes over as head coach with a lot of experience behind the bench.  He was the head coach of Fort Knox for a year before moving on to being an assistant coach for Team Saskatchewan for two years.  McEwen also spent time as the assistant coach of the Notre Dame Hounds in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for one season before moving on to becoming the Manager of Scouting for the ICE Franchise in 2016.

“I am extremely excited to step into the position as head coach,” Said Taras McEwen.  “It’s a great opportunity to work hand in hand with a young group of players who want to make it to the next level.”

The Winnipeg Blues have also announced that Zach Heisinger will join McEwen behind the bench as an assistant coach for the upcoming season.

He was the assistant coach for Vincent Massey in the Winnipeg High School League. Before then, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Fort Garry Twins in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League. Zach spent three seasons in the MJHL playing for the Winkler Flyers and Neepawa Natives.

“I am excited to have Zach join our staff.” Said head coach and general manager Taras McEwen. “Zach has a passion for the game and will be a great fit for our program.”

Back to Hockey | Grady Hobbs

He had just completed his fourth regular season in the MJHL and was fresh off of scoring the game winner in double overtime during the Dauphin Kings first round playoff series against the Portage Terriers when everything came to an end.

A product of Deloraine, Manitoba, Grady Hobbs had a season he will never forget, and it wasn’t entirely due to the global pandemic.

Hobbs announced his commitment to play NCAA Division I Hockey for the RIT Tigers in early February before being named as the MJHL’s Most Valuable Player in a season where the speedy forward scored 43 goals to lead the league and was named as a First Team All-Star.

“It wasn’t the nicest goal I’ve ever scored but I’ll take it,” Hobbs said of his overtime winner in round one against Portage. “It was off a rebound and it came right to my stick, I stopped at the net and it was a tap in into the open net. The next day Winkler and Virden were postponed and then later that next day we found out the season was over, it was a weird way to end things.”

Like many other junior players, Hobbs found himself back at home earlier than expected. The 20-year-old shared what’s been keeping him busy and spoke about getting back on the ice in today’s new normal.

“Mostly I keep busy by helping my dad on the farm, it was nice when I got home with everything shut down, I always had something to do around here.”

“I’ve been working out lots and doing power skating, it’s mostly been the same,” Hobbs said of being on the ice during the pandemic. “There’s certain protocols to follow, not being able to shower after is a bit different but it is what it is. At least we can still get on the ice and not get too rusty.”

When Hobbs made his commitment to RIT in February, the expectation was for him to make the jump for the 2020-21 season. That decision changed with the amount of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation south of the Canadian border.

“There was a few conversations between myself, my parents and coaches. We just mutually agreed that me staying was the better option because of so much unknown. I just felt like it was safer being close to family with less risk involved.”

When the puck drops on the 2020-21 season, Hobbs will enter his fifth season with the Dauphin Kings, something only a handful of players get the chance to do. Should Hobbs suit up in every game game this season, he will enter the top 10 in all-time MJHL games played.

“I’m really looking forward to it, you don’t realize how much you miss playing in those big games until you get away from it for a while. I’m definitely itching to get back with all my teammates and meet my new ones.”

“I miss the compete level, having to be prepared and having the games to look forward to, it’s exciting you always have something to look forward to.”

According to Hobbs, if there’s one thing left for him to mark off on his MJHL checklist, it involves making a deep run into April.

“Personally I hope to carry over success from last year and do everything I can to help the team win. I think we’ll have a really good team, my main goal for us is to try and win the Turnbull Cup,” Hobbs concluded.

MJHL announces return to hockey for 2020-21

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce that the 2020-21 Regular Season will begin on Friday, October 9, 2020.

Since early June, the MJHL has worked diligently with Hockey Canada, Hockey Manitoba, Sport Manitoba and Manitoba Public Health Authorities to develop very comprehensive Return to Play (RTP) Guidelines to ensure that our players, fans, staff and communities can return to hockey in a safe, structured and responsible manner in today’s new normal.  All authorities recognize the significant and important role that fitness, sport, and competition plays both physically and mentally in our daily lives, specifically involving the game of hockey within the province and across our country.  And as such, have remained extremely cautious and responsible in managing the approval process of returning to hockey within Manitoba.

Sport Manitoba and the Provincial Health Authorities have done an outstanding job in leading and providing direction to each sport within our Province in returning to play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Provincial Health Authorities, with the endorsement of Sport Manitoba have agreed to provide the MJHL with the appropriate delegated authority to re-introduce hockey upon approval by Hockey Manitoba.  Authorities will continue to provide regular updates and the necessary guidelines that will be required.  Greater responsibility will now be delegated to the MJHL and each member team as it relates to our full return to hockey.

“On behalf of the MJHL Board of Governors and with the support of Sport Manitoba and approval by the Hockey Manitoba Board of Directors, we are excited to share that MJHL Hockey will be returning to the province in October” shared Commissioner, Kevin Saurette. “We believe our thoroughly provincially vetted MJHL Return to Play – Phase II Guidelines will provide the MJHL, all member teams, players, staff, officials, volunteers, stakeholders, fans and communities with the best position to return to and enjoy hockey in a safe, structured and responsible manner in accordance with all necessary public health and facility guidelines.  The league and member teams also understand the immense responsibility we have been provided as we move forward with the 2020-21 season.”

MJHL Return to Play -Phase ll

MJHL Regular Season to begin on Friday, October 9th.

MJHL Main Camps will begin on September 18th with no more than 34 players in attendance. Teams will play no more than three exhibition games.  Games involving out-of-province teams are not permitted.

The 2020-21 season schedule will be significantly modified to mitigate risk of spread or potential contact between multiple teams and to allow for minimal disruption of the schedule in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.  Full schedule announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

Any upcoming Camps held by teams that are not Main Camps (Prospect Camps, Development Camps, etc.) are to be hosted before September 18th and are to follow the MJHL Return to Play- Phase I which have been in place since June 26th.  Full contact is not permitted during these camps.

Players/Staff and Officials are required to wear face masks while entering/exiting and within the arena for MJHL sanctioned activities while not on the ice.

Players/Staff are required to wear face masks while traveling to and from games (on the bus, entering/exiting restaurants and hotels, etc.)

Members of the public are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while in any MJHL facility during MJHL activity while following all necessary distancing and facility guidelines.

The MJHL RTP – Phase II Guidelines will remain fluid and flexible to accommodate the necessary response to advice from public health authorities.

As is the case for everyone throughout the province and beyond, these past months during the COVID-19 pandemic have placed significant financial stress on each MJHL team and community.  Additional stress will be felt as each organization prepares for what will be required for the upcoming season to ensure we return to hockey in a safe, structured and responsible manner.

Each organization is to be commended for their absolute commitment to providing elite development opportunities both on and off the ice in the face of these financial challenges with the health and safety of all involved always being the number one priority. Teams will need and deserve all the support they can be afforded during this time as we return to the game we all love.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

About the MJHL                                                                                                           

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.

The MJHL, a storied past, a promising future | P.4

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League celebrates Manitoba 150 and over 100 Years of Junior hockey history.

To celebrate and recognize Manitoba 150 and over 100 years of junior hockey history in the province, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is pleased to release the fourth of a five-part video vignette series. The series reinforces the strong legacy of amateur hockey and its importance to youth and the quality of life in Manitoba.

The vignettes appear on the MJHL Digital LED Sign Network (11 arenas/11 communities), MJHL website, and MJHL social media. The MJHL – a storied past, a promising future.

MJHL Job Posting | Blizzard AT/Equipment Manager

Courtesy of OCN Blizzard

OCN Blizzard Junior A club of Manitoba Junior Hockey League are seeking Applications for Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager/Trainer for upcoming Season 2020-2021.

Requirements:  Certified Athletic Therapist, First Aid, and CPR

Job Description:  The Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager/Trainer is responsible for the physical care of the athletes and maintenance of equipment. This position requires non-standard hours. We welcome and encourage applications from all persons of Canadian Citizenship.

The Athletic Therapist/ Equipment Manager/Trainer will work under the direction of the Head Coach/General Manger and assume duties as assigned by the Head Coach/General Manager on a daily basis. Job duties shall include but are not limited to:

  • Work cooperatively with the Coaches, and accepts duties as assigned by the General Manager.
  • Familiar with Skate sharpening equipment. Perform skate sharpening duties.
  • Ensure the dressing room is properly organized and assist co-ordination of cleaning daily.
  • Co-ordinate the loading and unloading of bus for all road trips with the team’s Coaching Staff.
  • Co-ordinate and complete daily laundry duties.
  • Co-ordinate the maintenance and distribution of team equipment with the Head Coach/GM.
  • Ensure equipment is repaired or replaced as needed.
  • Implement an effective Risk Management program with your team that strives to prevent injuries and accidents.
  • Assume a proactive role in identifying and minimizing or eliminating risks during all activities.
  • Conduct regular checks of players’ equipment to ensure proper fit, protective quality and maintenance, and advise Coaches regarding the selection or replacement of equipment.
  • Maintain accurate medical information files on all players and team officials and bring these to Coaches and General Manager Attention.
  • Maintain a Player Injury Log.
  • Maintain a fully stocked First Aid Kit and bring it to all team activities.
  • Implement an effective Emergency Action Plan with your team and practice it regularly to ensure all involved understand their roles and are prepared to act promptly when an incident occurs.
  • Manage minor injuries according to basic injury management principles.
  • Recognize injuries that require a player to be removed from action. Refer players to medical professionals and coordinate return to play.
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle with all hockey participants by being a good role model and by educating participants regarding hygiene, performance-enhancing substances, drug and alcohol abuse, nutrition and hydration.
  • Act as a Hockey Trainer for both your team and your opponents if only one Hockey Trainer is present.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Salary will depend on Education and Experience.

Please forward resumes to:

Billy Keane

GM and Head Coach

OCN Blizzard Junior A Hockey Club

Email: Keane5@mymts.net

Cell: 204 250 5565

Keeper & Whitecloud named to NHL Playoff rosters

Both Zach Whitecloud and Brady Keeper have been named to their respective National Hockey League (NHL) team rosters ahead of the 2020 NHL Playoffs.

The pair of 1996-born defensemen spent a combined five seasons (2014-17) in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) with Keeper in OCN suiting up for the Blizzard and Whitecloud in Virden with the Oil Capitals.

Whitecloud split time between the Chicago Wolves (AHL) and Vegas Golden Knights (NHL) this past season, and was named to the Knights playoff roster after playing 16 games with the big club during the regular season.

Zach signed a 2-year contract extension in Vegas that will keep him in a Golden Knights uniform through the 2021-22 season.

After making his NHL debut with the Florida Panthers in 2019, Keeper enjoyed his first full season of professional hockey with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) where he played 61 games as one of the organizations most promising defensive prospects. Keeper is one of ten defensemen named to the Florida Panthers playoff roster.

 

 

MJHL teams up with Boston Pizza Garden City

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce that Boston Pizza Garden City will be the exclusive meal provider for our athletes and staff during the fourth annual MJHL Prospect Development Camp.

From July 23-25 at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg, 70 of the MJHL’s Top Prospects will come together and learn what it takes to be successful on and off the ice.

“We are excited to once again partner with Boston Pizza for this elite event and feel very satisfied in knowing that our athletes will be provided with quality and delicious meal options to keep them fueled throughout the camp,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

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

 

MJHL announces Prospect Development Camp rosters

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce its list of participants for the 2020 edition of MJHL Prospect Development Camp, set to take place from July 23-25 at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg.

Seventy-two (72) players born in 2003 & 2004 will attend the fourth annual Prospect Development Camp, comprised of eight (8) goaltenders, twenty-four (24) defence, and forty (40) forwards. Players have been organized into four camp teams and will participate in a loaded schedule of on and off ice development activities.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 MJHL PROSPECT DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTERS

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 MJHL PROSPECT DEVELOPMENT CAMP SCHEDULE

Invite only Prospect Development Camp is geared towards current MJHL Prospects born in the years 2003 and 2004 who are eligible to play in the upcoming 2020-21 MJHL season.

The main goal of the camp is to prepare these players on and off the ice for what it takes to be successful in the MJHL and what it takes to get to the next level. (NCAA, WHL, USports, NHL). Camp activities will emphasize the elements these players need to focus on to transition successfully from elite minor hockey to elite Junior A hockey.

MJHL & HockeyTech announce multi-year extension

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada & Winnipeg, Manitoba – HockeyTech and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) announce an exclusive digital services partnership extension. HockeyTech has been the sole provider of all MJHL digital services since 2017.

“We’re happy to have the MJHL partnering with us for the foreseeable future,” stated HockeyTech CEO Stu Siegel. “Their fans and staff will get to enjoy HockeyTech’s integrated services that brings the MJHL’s digital presence to professional standards for years to come.”

Beginning in 2017, HockeyTech has partnered with the MJHL to provide the league with digital tools to improve analytics, coaching and fan engagement through HockeyTech’s core services RinkNet scouting, LeagueStat scorekeeping, web services and mobile apps.

In addition to digital services, all 450+ MJHL games are streamed live and on demand on HockeyTV, a service of HockeyTech. The MJHL has been broadcasting games on HockeyTV since 2013.

“The MJHL is thrilled to extend our partnership with HockeyTech whose reputation for excellence in all areas is so well-known,” said Kevin Saurette, Commissioner of the MJHL.  “The new agreement between our organizations will allow the MJHL to continue to enhance our brand image by bringing leading-edge hockey-related technologies and analytics to our loyal fans, stakeholders, players, coaches, and scouting staffs. The integrated services provided by HockeyTech undoubtedly make the MJHL a stronger player development league as we continue to grow our profile across North America.”

Until August 17, 2020 MJHL fans can save $80 on an all-access pass subscription to HockeyTV. Visit MJHLHockey.ca or any MJHL team website for details.

About HockeyTech
HockeyTech (hockeytech.com) is the worldwide leader in providing hockey-related technologies, analytics, and information services. HockeyTech was founded in 2012 by Stu Siegel, a technology entrepreneur, and former Florida Panthers (NHL) Managing Partner/CEO. HockeyTech has made six company acquisitions to date, integrating, and developing one-of-a-kind hockey-focused tools. HockeyTech’s brands have been Digitally Powering HockeyTM since 1998.

About the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL)
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (mjhlhockey.ca) is one of ten Junior ‘A’ Hockey Leagues in Canada and is a proud member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). The CJHL is an association of ten Junior ‘A’ leagues in Canada. The MJHL exists to provide the best hockey development opportunities for players.

MJHL alumnus Wyatt Kalynuk inks NHL deal with Chicago

Courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks have added to their already deep defensive prospect pool on Thursday with the signing of free-agent blueliner Wyatt Kalynuk from the University of Wisconsin.

A seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017, the defenseman became a free agent after electing to turn pro earlier this year and not signing with the Flyers within their 30-day rights window. Courted by teams across the league, Kalynuk has chosen to make Chicago his home with a two-year entry-level deal beginning next season.

A few months after being selected in the final round by the Flyers in 2017, Kalynuk stepped onto campus in Madison among a trio of freshman blueliners looking to make an impact (alongside fellow freshman and Blackhawks draft pick Joshua Ess). He quickly emerged as one of Wisconsin’s best defensemen and became the first rookie D-man in 25 years to score 25 points for the Badgers, including a team-leading 22 assists. Kalynuk was named the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and earned an honorable mention in All-Big Ten selections.

In 2018-19, he followed up his breakout campaign with a second straight 25-point season and nine goals, second in scoring for the Badgers. The sophomore earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors and was named Wisconsin’s most valuable player, an award that co-bears the name of Blackhawks Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios.

Last season, Kalynuk served as team captain and finished second in scoring with 28 points (7G, 21A) in 36 games before the Badgers were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten playoffs. The 23-year-old was named to the All-Big Ten First Team in his final season on campus before deciding to turn pro.

“From day one as a freshman at Wisconsin, you could see the skating and the offensive talent but it’s more the defensive part of the game that usually needs (to be) polished or honed for young defensemen,” Blackhawks Assistant General Manager/Player Development Mark Eaton said. “I know (Associate Head Coach) Mark Osiecki, I know (Head Coach) Tony Granato at Wisconsin and I know kind of the defense that they preach and the responsibility that they want in players, so that’s the area of his game that you could see grow the most through the three years, the defensive habits and realizing that he’s a defenseman and taking care of his own zone and his defensive responsibilities before he jumps on the offensive attack. ”

“The asset of his that jumps out when you see him is his skating ability,” Eaton said. “Such a graceful, powerful skater and he can do it all, really. He can be a one-man breakout, he was quarterbacking the power play for three years at Wisconsin, good defensive habits, so just a good, well-rounded player that I think has a good opportunity to step in and contribute at the NHL level.”

According to Eaton, it’s easy to spot Kalynuk’s inner drive to get better just looking at his year-to-year improvement at Wisconsin.

“One of the things that we talk about with our prospects is the on-ice element is really only half of the equation,” he said. “The other half is character and how you approach the off-ice part of your game with training, mental skills, this or that and one of the areas that we really focus on is coachability. You have to continue to evolve as a player and continue to grow … For him to show that he can grow and that he’s coachable, it’s absolutely going to serve him well going forward.”

The tools are already there for the pro game, and if Eaton and his staff can do what they do best over the summer, it’s not a stretch to say that Kalynuk could be a candidate to step into Blackhawks’ lineup as soon as next season.

“(Blackhawks SVP/GM) Stan (Bowman) says it and all GMs say it, you don’t hand out jobs in the summertime, but if he does the right stuff over the summer and comes in and has a good training camp next year, then there’s a real opportunity there for him to be in the Blackhawks starting lineup,” Eaton said. “For us, on the development in, we’re excited to get our hands on him and just kind of see where he is currently with his off-ice conditioning and his routine, for lack of a better word, to see how he goes about his daily business as a professional now and see where we can help him fine-tune certain areas to better his chances of being in that starting lineup.”

Prior to signing his first NHL contract, Kalynuk suited up for his hometown Virden Oil Capitals during the 2013-14 season before moving on to play three years in the United States Hockey League.

OCN Blizzard announce hiring of Billy Keane

Courtesy of OCN Blizzard

OCN Blizzard management has released Chris Perchaluk from his role as General Manager and Head Coach of the Blizzard. Chris Perchaluk took over a bigger role as Head Coach mid season 2019-2020. During the 2019-2020 season, the Blizzard were unable to grab a spot in the playoffs despite having a strong start at the beginning of the season. “Chris stepped forward mid-season and took over a bigger role, but we are so far behind in our standings and performance that we feel it’s time to bring more experience and seasoned leadership to the organization. The Blizzard have a glorious past and it’s time to reclaim that. We wish Chris best of luck for future” said owners, Salman and Usman Dhillon.

The OCN Blizzard have announced the hiring of Billy Keane from Winnipeg Manitoba as Head Coach and General Manager of the club. Billy Keane is a well-known name in Junior Hockey and has been coaching since 1989. He has coached the Winnipeg Monarchs, held positions as Assistant Coach of the University of Manitoba and Head Coach of the Winnipeg Saints, Winnipeg South Blues and Head Coach and General Manager of Winnipeg Blues in his extensive career in hockey.  Greg Hunter is also coming back to the Club as Assistant Coach and Assistant General Manager. Greg Hunter has been involved with the team for more than 20 years and held the position of Assistant Coach during the Blizzard’s championship runs.

OCN Blizzard is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year and hoping to make a strong comeback in the season 2020-2021.

For additional questions and queries, please contact Billy Keane OCN Blizzard General Manager and Head Coach at (204) 250 5565.

MJHL alumnus Justin Valentino signs in ECHL

Courtesy of the Brampton Beast

BRAMPTON, ONTARIO – The Brampton Beast announce today that they have signed forward Justin Valentino to an SPC for the 2020-21 season.

Valentino, 27, is coming off a year which saw him split time between Briancon in France and Podhale Nowy Targ in Poland.

The slick forward had four points through eight games in France before moving to Poland where he scored eight goals and 17 points through 30 games.

Prior to the most recent season, Valentino brought his hard working brand of hockey to the University of Lethbridge, where he suited up for five seasons.

His best statistical campaign in his university tenure came during the 2016-17 season where he scored 16 goals and was a point a game player through 28 games.

The native of Thompson, Manitoba, Valentino also played in the MJHL and donned the jersey of both the Swan Valley Stampeders and Dauphin Kings over the course of his time in the league. He was also named to the MJHL All-Rookie Team in 2011-12.

Burnett accepts assistant role in WHL

Courtesy of the Winnipeg Blues

Winnipeg Blues Head Coach, Gord Burnett has accepted a position with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League.

Gord will move into the role of Assistant Coach for the Warriors.  Gord led the Blues to a 24-29-6-1 record and a playoff berth in his first season as the team’s head coach.

“This is an opportunity for Gord to move to the next level and we are very excited for him,” said Taras McEwen, Blues General Manager. “Anytime a player, coach, or member of your staff is able to move to the next level it is something that we are excited to celebrate as an organization.”

McEwen added, “We will take some time to evaluate the current position and be patient with the process of naming a new head coach.”

MJHL Holds 2020 Annual General Meeting

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) conducted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 24, 2020 utilizing video conferencing involving the league office and the eleven member teams.

“These are unique times, however the leadership, positivity and professionalism shown from each MJHL Governor under these circumstances is to be commended,” Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner explained.

Below are highlights from the AGM as well as initiatives that will be in place as the league prepares for the upcoming season of exciting MJHL Hockey.

Commissioner Update

After 18 years as Commissioner of the MJHL, Kim Davis officially punched the clock one last time on June 30 to make way for incoming Commissioner, Kevin Saurette, who served as the MJHL’s Director of Operations for the past four seasons.

Kim’s dedication, integrity, leadership, commitment, countless hours of hard work and everything in between has brought the MJHL to where it is today.

Twenty-Year Old Players

Member clubs will be permitted to roster a maximum of six (6) 20 year-old players for the 2020 – 2021 season.

2020/21 Schedule Update

The 2020/21 MJHL Season is currently being finalized with an expected start date of Friday, September 25th – Stay tuned for the full schedule release in the coming weeks.

MJHL Return to Play – Phase I Guidelines

On June 19th, the MJHL submitted a Return to Play (RTP) – Phase I Guidelines for review by the Provincial Health Authorities – Return to Sport Review Committee and Sport Manitoba.  The RTP Guidelines were approved on June 26th effective immediately.

The RTP Guidelines allow teams the opportunity to plan, promote and return to sanctioned summer activity in preparation for the upcoming season as it relates to Off-Ice Training Sessions/On-Ice Practice Sessions/Prospect Camps/Development Camps, etc while following all necessary safety guidelines as outlined – Players, coaches, managers, staff, training staff and medical personnel employed by, affiliated with or invited by a MJHL team or the MJHL may attend a facility for the purposes of off-ice training activity and on-ice activity.

Return To Play – PHASE II Guidelines will be presented for review in the coming weeks in which will include our full plan for return to hockey in September.

Rookie of the Year – Kim Davis Trophy

The MJHL had one of its major individual player awards that required naming. As such, the award and trophy for the league’s top rookie going forward will be named in honour of outgoing 18-year MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis.

HockeyTech Agreement

The MJHL has entered into a new 5-year agreement with HockeyTech which includes their full suite of leading-edge hockey-related technologies, analytics and HockeyTV broadcast platform.  Stay tuned for the full announcement.

2020 MJHL Prospect Development Camp

After three very successful MJHL Prospect Development Camps, the MJHL is proud to announce that the 2020 MJHL Prospect Development Camp will take place once again this summer in Winnipeg at the impressive Seven Oaks Arena Complex from July 23rd – 25th.

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 MJHL Hockey is all about, an opportunity to work with top level coaches and players and the platform to showcase themselves to coaches and scouts from all levels.

The camp is by invite only geared towards current MJHL Prospects born in the years 2003 and 2004 who are eligible to play in the MJHL for the upcoming 2020/21 season.

Department of Player Safety

The MJHL Department of Player Safety (DOPS) will continue to apply strict disciplinary and education measures to ensure players can play in an appropriate on-ice environment to support the successful development of our athletes.  The DOPS will be responsible for visiting each team during their training camps in order to review and set expectations of compliance to the Junior A Supplement in its entirety with the players and coaching staff.

Team Personnel Code of Conduct

The MJHL has instituted a mandatory Team Personnel Code of Conduct which identifies the standard of behaviour which is expected of all MJHL Team Personnel.  This is in addition to all hockey staff members who have in person contact with players having a completed criminal record check (CRC) for the upcoming season.

The purpose of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) Code of Conduct (the “Code”) is to ensure a safe and positive environment within MJHL programs, activities and events by making individuals aware that there is an expectation, at all times both on and off the ice, of appropriate behavior consistent with the MJHL’s core values. The MJHL and its Member Clubs are committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and in an environment free from bullying, harassment and abuse.

This Code applies to all Member Team Personnel while they are affiliated in any capacity with the MJHL including without limitation, while they are participating in any MJHL Program.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements as we progress through the summer.

ABOUT THE MJHL
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) – Our goal 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.

CJHL appoints Kim Davis as Life Member

Courtesy of Canadian Junior Hockey League

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday the appointment of Kim Davis as a Life Member to its organization in recognition of his considerable contributions over these many years to Jr. A hockey.

The outgoing commissioner of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League has served at the helm of the MJHL during the past 18 seasons.

He also spent a number of years as part of the CJHL’s Executive Committee.

Davis becomes the seventh individual in CJHL history to earn the honour, joining John Grisdale, Ron Boileau, Joe Drago, Frank McKinnon, Wayne Kartush and Marty Knack on this distinguished list of honoured Life Members.

Under his watch, which began in June of 2002, the MJHL saw over 6,000 regular season contests held, along with 700-plus playoff match-ups competed in and over 200 regional or national championship games having been played.

He also played a pivotal role in the MJHL’s overall success, both on and off the ice, during his tenure.

“The CJHL is grateful for Kim’s many years of service, as a member of our Board and is truly deserving of joining the CJHL’s distinguished group of Life Members,” offered league president Brent Ladds.

“His dedication, integrity, and passion for Junior A hockey across Canada, has always been evident through the unselfish giving of his time and his commitment to player-related issues.

We wish him well, and sincerely hope that he will enjoy, his well deserved time with his family.”

Davis’ efforts in close to two decades of service resulted in bolstered league-wide marketing and online broadcasts of games in the MJHL as well as the implementation of ever-increasing communications, social media, league corporate partnerships and the like while establishing and maintaining the league’s office in Winnipeg and continually working closely with all of its member clubs throughout Manitoba.

The Flin Flon, Man., product was selected in both the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association Drafts in 1977 where he was tabbed 48th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL) and 24th by the Edmonton Oilers (WHA).

After a five-year professional career with experience in the AHL, IHL and NHL, Davis went on to complete his Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Manitoba.

Prior to joining the MJHL, he held coveted marketing positions in the retail banking, provincial lotteries and food service industries.

CJHL Life Members

MJHL announces annual Prospect Development Camp

After three very successful MJHL Prospect Development Camps, the MJHL is proud to officially announce that the 2020 MJHL Prospect Development Camp will take place once again this summer in Winnipeg at the impressive Seven Oaks Arena Complex from July 23-25.

The camp is by invite only geared towards current MJHL Prospects born in the years 2003 and 2004 who are eligible to play in the MJHL for the upcoming 2020/21 season.

2020 MJHL Prospect Development Camp Schedule

“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 MJHL Hockey is all about, an opportunity to work with top level coaches and players and the platform to showcase themselves to coaches and scouts from all levels,” said MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“This event continues to grow in stature both on and off the ice and we are very excited at the talent level of the prospects that have been invited to this years camp. If you look across the league right now, many of the top players from last season have participated in this camp and/or have already moved on to higher levels through this camp and a year in the MJHL,” Saurette concluded.

The main goal of the camp is to prepare the prospects on and off the ice for what it takes to be successful in the MJHL and what it takes to get to the next level (NCAA, Major Junior, USports, NHL). 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.

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 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.

This camp will follow all protocols and procedures associated with the recently approved MJHL Phase 1 return to play guidelines.

Please stay tuned in the coming weeks as more exciting announcements are still to come.

MJHL approved to safely resume summer activities

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce that it is safe to return to sanctioned summer activities .

The MJHL and its 11 member teams have been closely monitoring the re-opening plans for COVID-19 in Manitoba.  In early June, Hockey Canada determined that the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each member and organization the opportunity to work with health authorities in their respective province to determine when it is safe to return to hockey activities.

With Manitoba easing restrictions and allowing indoor and outdoor sporting organized activities to operate again in a phased in and cautious approach, the MJHL has prepared Return to Play Guidelines (RTP) using a phased in approach.

In preparing for the MJHL RTP Guidelines, the MJHL has worked in coordination with Hockey Canada, Hockey Manitoba, Sport Manitoba and the necessary Provincial Health Authorities.  We are excited to officially announce that the MJHL Return to Play – Phase I Guidelines have been approved by the Provincial Health Authorities – Return to Sport Review Committee and Sport Manitoba effective immediately.

“This is another exciting and important step that allows the MJHL and member teams the ability to operate as they normally would throughout the summer months,” shared MJHL Director of Operations, Kevin Saurette. “These uncertain times have necessitated specific measures to allow the MJHL and member teams the opportunity to return safely to the sport we all love.”

The MJHL RTP Guidelines allow teams the opportunity to plan, promote and return to sanctioned summer activity in preparation for the upcoming season as it relates to Off-Ice Training Sessions/On-Ice Practice Sessions/Prospect Camps/Development Camps/Training Camps, etc while following all necessary safety guidelines – Players, coaches, managers, staff, training staff and medical personnel employed by, affiliated with or invited by a MJHL team or the MJHL may attend a facility for the purposes of off-ice training activity and on-ice activity.

The guidelines are to allow the MJHL and member teams the ability to conduct summer hockey activities in preparation for the upcoming season in a modified manner. The guidelines do not permit extended contact.

The guidelines have been prepared in accordance to the Hockey Canada Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines as they pertain to Junior Hockey. The guidelines have been prepared in accordance to the recommendations of the Provincial Health Authorities.

The objective of the MJHL Return to Play | Phase I Guidelines is to demonstrate how the MJHL and its member teams plan to return to play in a safe, structured and responsible manner utilizing a phased in approach in accordance with necessary health restrictions and facility guidelines.

As a result, the following clearly defined guidelines and procedures have been recommended to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants – The health and safety for everyone involved is our number one priority.

MJHL Return to Play- Phase 1 – June 26

MJHL Return To Play | PHASE II Guidelines will be presented in the coming days which will include our full plan for return to hockey in September.  Our targeted start date for the 2020-21 Season is Friday, September 25th.

“Fundamentally we believe these guidelines put the MJHL, its Member Teams and all participants in the best position to return to sanctioned summer hockey activities in a safe and healthy manner. We look forward to MJHL Hockey returning to the province in September as we continue to work diligently with Hockey Canada, Hockey Manitoba, Sport Manitoba and the necessary Provincial Health Authorities,” Saurette concluded.

Jamie and Reggie Leach reflect on making hockey more

By Kyle Prystupa, MJHL Media:   

Reggie and Jamie Leach are the only indigenous father-son duo to win the Stanley Cup, they have both lived an exceptional life in hockey through junior and the National Hockey League.  Years after the being in the limelight as dedicated professional hockey players, their most virtuous work is being done as coaches and mentors for youth of all ages and backgrounds.

Reggie, father of Jamie, began his junior hockey career as a sixteen-year-old in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Flin Flon Bombers (1966-67).  Reggie, who proudly hails from Riverton, MB, still holds a top-ten record for goals scored in a MJHL season with 67 goals.  “It was a good year for me, I went there as a defenceman and Pat Ginnell converted me into a forward and I got to play with Bobby Clarke and things turned out really well” comments Reggie about his rookie junior season.

A member of Berens River First Nation, Reggie reflects as was one of the few First Nation players advancing to junior hockey during the era and certainly the lone trailblazer posting such success “just going and playing at a high level that was something for me, and especially for who I was as a First Nation hockey player playing in Manitoba you never heard too much of that at that time in the league or Western Canada.”  Following four years of junior in Flin Flon he would go on to become one of the most accomplished Manitobans in the NHL, playing 13 seasons with 934 games played and 381 goals scored.  Reggie won a Stanley Cup in 1975 with the Flyers, and the following season after scoring a record 19 playoff goals he won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite the Flyers falling to the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals.  He would also suit up in the Canada Cup later that summer.

Also a band member of Berens River First Nation, Jamie would follow his father’s footsteps to the National Hockey League where he too would have his time with the Stanley Cup, twice, as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.  He spent junior years in the Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League, Jamie was also named to Team Canada for the 1989 World Junior Hockey Championship in a tournament that featured names like Bure, Fedorov, Mogilny, Selanne, Roenick, and Modano.

Following a professional career of 12 seasons with 5 those spending time in the NHL, Jamie took to coaching immediately. Using his credible background of the game he has become renowned for his ability to develop from the grassroots but also coach high performance athletes.  After retiring from playing he began coaching in the MJHL with the Southeast Blades in the 2001-02 season.  Significantly improving the Blades in his first season behind the bench he would earn the MJHL Coach of the Year award.  After being last place the year prior, under Jamie the Blades tied in points for the final Addison Division playoff spot but lost out on tiebreakers to the Selkirk Steelers.

In his second season the Blades would finish with 41 wins, good for second place in the Addison Division and fourth in the league overall.  Southeast would advance all the way to the MJHL finals for a chance at the Turnbull Trophy and an attempt to dethrone the OCN Blizzard.  “The 2003 final was one of my proudest hockey moments, being a part of the only league final with two First Nation based teams” says Jamie.  Every game of that final would be decided by one goal, two games in overtime, OCN would go onto sweep the series winning their fifth straight league title.  “We had a team of about 40% indigenous players, not that we had quotas and that it mattered, all of our players formed a very tight knit group which was a special part of that experience, we were just a unified team” comments Jamie about the Blades success.

As much as they’ve accomplished on the ice Reggie and Jamie are just as proud of the opportunity they have been given to teach children how to grow, how to strive for goals, and simply to give themselves the best opportunity to be an athlete but good citizens.  Reggie comments “our hockey schools aren’t just for hockey, we’re there to teach them as much as possible from being on time, being respectful, doing the best they can at all times, and treating everyone the same.”  In 2006 the father-son duo formed Shoot to Score Hockey and have visited over 90 locations across North America in that time, with approximately 75% of those being indigenous or First Nation communities,  “we’re proud of the exposure we can offer kids in their own communities who can’t always get to major centres easily, each year we are able to reach anywhere from 1500 to 2000 athletes with our program” notes Jamie.

The pair relish the opportunity to visit remote locations and gain life perspective on what daily living is like for many of their camp athletes “you see these kids out there having a good time, meanwhile you’re thinking about what they might be going through with tough times at home or they don’t have enough food at home but they’re out there playing hockey and enjoying the wonderful game that we love with beautiful smiles” says Reggie.

In recognition of his work as an athlete but more so of his contributions after hockey Reggie Leach has been acknowledged in the highest forms.  He is a recipient of an honourary degree at Brock University, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (Indspire Award), the Order of Manitoba, and recently the Order of Canada.  “I’m very lucky, if wasn’t for all the First Nation communities and all the work I’ve done with them, I wouldn’t have received all awards I’ve got over the years, it’s unbelievable how things happen” said Reggie.  He finishes with “I made a lot of mistakes, but you learn by that and move on, you try to bring that experience to these young kids and young parents, it’s OK to make a mistake but learn from it and move on.”

Throughout each season the MJHL and its member clubs acknowledge that they compete on Treaty 1, Treaty 2, Treaty 4, and Treaty 5 lands, collectively the traditional territories of Anishinaabe, Assiniboine, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene, and Inninnowuk peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.  “Once again we’re proud to acknowledge our strong connections to the Indigenous community, as a league we’re excited to highlight the achievements of Indigenous players, coaches, staff, and alumni on this special celebration of culture” adds Kevin Saurette, MJHL Director of Operations.

Pair of Flyers secure university commitments

Two members of the Winkler Flyers graduating class have advanced their hockey careers and will become student-athletes next season.

Goaltender, Dorrin Luding announced his commitment to the University of British Columbia to play at the U Sports level, while Defenceman, Nathan Poolman will suit up for State University of New York College at Geneseo to play NCAA Division III.

Star-studded lineup highlights MJHL Roundtable Webinar

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce its first ever MJHL Roundtable Webinar Series set for June 22-24.

Moderated by well renowned broadcaster, speaker and emcee, Leah Hextall, the MJHL’s goal of the webinar series is to provide the hockey community with valuable information and insight through informative discussion, stories and advice involving accomplished athletes, coaches, professionals and role models.  The guests include current & former Olympians, current NHL players & coaches along with presentations from experts in Mental Health, Physical Literacy and Social Media.

“The webinar series should be a fun and informative experience for everyone involved and it will be free for anyone to join in,” shared MJHL Director of Operations, Kevin Saurette. “Hosting this event gives us the opportunity to do something positive for the hockey community in what has been a difficult and uncertain time.  We are very ecstatic at the lineup of amazing guests scheduled for this event and can’t wait for it to start.”

During each day of the Roundtable series, two nightly seminars will take place that feature a different area of focus. There will also be an opportunity to donate, with proceeds going towards COVID-19 support for the MJHL and its 11 member teams as preparations are underway for the 2020/21 MJHL season.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER | CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Session 1  | Women’s Hockey

Guest Panel: Cassie Campbell-Pascall – Brigette Lacquette – Marie-Philip Poulin

All three women have been instrumental in helping grow the women’s game in Canada. The opening session will feature great stories, grassroots development talk, and a discussion on the state of the women’s game.

Session 2 | Mental Health

Guest Panel: Corey Hirsch & Theo Fleury

Two former NHL/Olympic athletes who now find themselves as mental health advocates will share their personal stories while providing insight on how to help conquer mental health struggles.

Session 3 | Player/Coach Dynamic

Guest Panel: Barry Trotz – Ryan Pulock

Two Manitoba born members of the New York Islanders will share stories, discuss their player-coach relationship, and talk about what’s required to make it to the next level.

Session 4 | Physical Literacy/Performance

Guest Panel: Dr. Dean Kriellaars

World renowned doctor, Dean Kriellaars, whose teaching fields include exercise & physical activity, biomechanics and neuromuscular control will share valuable information with a specific focus on physical performance.

Session 5 | Social Media

Guest Panel: Dan Marrazza

Emmy award winning social media specialist, Dan Marrazza will provide a vast range of knowledge from the world of multimedia, including tips on how teams can collaborate with hockey ops to build out the internal infrastructure of a social media department. A must watch for any social media enthusiast.

Session 6 | Coaches Prospective

Guest Panel: Paul Maurice & Sheldon Keefe

Two Head Coaches from Canadian markets in the National Hockey League will cap off the Roundtable Series with a coach focused discussion. Topics will include what coaches are looking for at the next level along with other tips and advice that will help young players along their hockey journey.

ABOUT THE MJHL

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) – Our goal 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.

Maucieri, Mitchell and Cassie advance to university

A trio of MJHL graduates have committed to become student-athletes for the 2020-21 season.

Swan Valley Stampeders forward, Josh Maucieri is off to the University of St. Thomas while Dauphin Kings goaltender, Levi Mitchell will head east to play for Salve Regina University, both at the NCAA Division III level.

Steinbach Pistons defender, Dylan Cassie will also head south to join the Minot State Beavers ACHA Division I program.

Josh Maucieri Commits to the University of St. Thomas

Another King Headed To The NCAA Level

Hockey Canada provides statement on return to hockey

WINNIPEG, MB, – Hockey fans from across Canada were pleased to receive some positive news on Thursday morning when Hockey Canada announced how each province will move forward and determine when it is safe to return to the ice this fall.

“This is an exciting and important first step on the way back to sanctioned hockey activity returning to the province of Manitoba,” MJHL Director of Operations, Kevin Saurette shared. “We are working very closely with the Provincial Health Authorities and Hockey Manitoba to ensure a safe return to play proposal is put in place for everyone involved.”

“We look forward to MJHL Hockey returning to the province this fall as we continue to plan for the upcoming 2020/21 MJHL season slated to start towards the end of September,” Saurette concluded.

Official statement below provided by Hockey Canada

CALGARY, Alta. – The following is a statement on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer, on the return-to-hockey process in Canada.

“On March 12, the decision was made to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities across the country. This was a difficult decision, but one made to maintain the health and safety of all participants and the general public amid growing concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Currently there are no Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities being conducted, and we are working with our Members on their return-to-hockey plans. After ongoing discussions with the board of directors, our chief medical officer, the 13 Members and public health authorities across the country, it has been determined that the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each Member the opportunity to work with authorities in their respective regions to determine when it is safe to return to the ice in areas that fall under their jurisdiction. We expect the timing of each Member’s return to hockey will be different, but will be based on the advice of their government and public health authority.

It is imperative to note that we are not ready to return to the game across the country. As we have seen in respect to flattening the curve, the impact of the pandemic varies from region to region. Permitting our Members the opportunity to decide on an appropriate return-to-hockey timeline will allow them to work directly with public health authorities to determine when it is safe to return while also implementing specific safety measures and rules within their associations and leagues.

Hockey Canada knows the game will look quite different, and the return will happen at different speeds and at different times across the country. Be assured, we continue to work on our multi-faceted return-to-hockey plan that includes health and safety regulations, communications and seasonal structure. As with so many people across the country, we look forward to returning to the game when it is safe to do so, and we will support our 13 Members as we continue to work towards getting back on the ice.”

For more information on the Return to Hockey plan, please visit HockeyCanada.ca/returntohockey.

Bestland reflects on RBC Community Ambassador Award

When Everett Bestland found out he was named the Winkler Flyers MJHL | RBC Community Ambassador award winner, he was shocked.

The veteran of over 140 MJHL games was even more shocked when he heard the news that he would be named the top ambassador overall in the MJHL for his commitment to volunteering in a number of different areas in Winkler & Morden.

“There was for sure a whole bunch of guys that could’ve received it, I was pretty surprised to get it just for the team and then for the league, but it’s an honor,” Bestland shared in an interview. “It just kind of started with the team doing different things around the community.”

“My billet brother started playing hockey and my billet mom had asked me if I wanted to come help coach. Little things like that I didn’t see as volunteering, it was just having fun and getting to do stuff that normally you can’t do.”

During the course of Bestland’s three seasons in Winkler, he became involved in minor hockey and CanSkate programs, the Christmas Cheer Board, the Morden Fire Department and served as a role model for youth speaking in local schools.

“Probably the best part is when you get to go see some kids and talk to them, hang out with the for a bit, they’re always interested in the hockey. Maybe the next game or a week later or a month later you see them at the game, you recognize them and they know who you are, you just get a smile out of that and know that you did something to affect that kid,” Bestland concluded.

As part of the program, the Garden Valley School Division received two generous donation’s from RBC in Everett’s name.

The initial donation was made after being named Winkler’s award winner while an additional donation was made when he was named as the MJHL’s top ambassador.

Read more about the MJHL | RBC Community Ambassador program.

 

Huston and Schroder advance to university hockey

Two more graduates from the MJHL have made commitments to become student athletes next season.

Portage Terriers Captain, Sam Huston will head to Brock University to suit up with the Badgers at the U Sports level while Swan Valley Stampeders forward, Trevor Schroder is off to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota to play for the Cardinals at the NCAA Division III level.

Huston Heads East

Trevor Schroder Commits To Saint Mary’s University

League update | State of the MJHL

League update provided by MJHL Commissioner, Kim Davis

Hello MJHL players, fans, supporters and partners. I know that many of you will recognize me as the league Commissioner. I would have liked nothing more than to see all of you in the team arenas over the past two months. Unfortunately, the world wide health crisis we are battling has changed things for all of us. Today, I want to share with you what the MJHL has been doing since the season was cancelled on March 13th.

Since the middle of March we have been focused on three key areas. The first area is accessing any and all Federal and Provincial financial assistance programs that have been made available to small businesses. Each member team, as well as the league office have applied for the various programs we qualify for and some have accessed these funds already which is re-assuring. At the league office we have been busy creating scenario plans for the start of the 2020 – 2021 season. These scenario plans have been extensive and range from the development of a normal 60 game schedule starting in September down to a 30 game schedule starting in December and several options in between.

Let me emphasize that I am highly optimistic and confident that we will start the upcoming season this fall. To accomplish that and begin the new season in the fall will mean that the hockey environment will have to change. Our third major area of focus has been the development of Return to Play Protocols. These protocols will describe the league’s plan for its teams that will allow them to offer Junior A hockey games in their team arenas. The protocols will be extensive and will range from how fans enter and exit the building and all interactions once they are within the facility to how the two competing teams will prepare for and compete on the ice and everything in between. Needless to say, the MJHL has never made plans or protocols as thorough as this before, but it is something we are beginning to work on at this time. The MJHL has been informed by the Provincial Public Health Office that the Return to Play Protocols we design must be approved by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer before league play can resume. The COVID 19 pandemic and our desire for the health and safety of all persons means we must do our part so that we can enjoy hockey once again.

As I mentioned, this is a brief update to let you know the MJHL is doing well and working diligently to get the league and its teams back into a new normal operating environment.

I want to conclude my comments with a personal note. A you may know, I will be leaving the MJHL as its Commissioner at the end of June after 18 fantastic seasons. I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity the Board of Governors of the league has provided me during my long tenure. My work as Commissioner has been challenging, fun and rewarding. It has also been difficult and frustrating. My lasting reflection on my time as MJHL Commissioner is how fortunate I am to have had the chance to work in the hockey business and with such passionate and caring people. I’m very lucky.

Have a great day and thank you for your support,

Kim Davis

Commissioner

Manitoba Junior Hockey League

Grown in ‘Toba: Brady Keeper

Three years removed from playing in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Brady Keeper has made the jump to playing professional hockey on a full-time basis.

Keeper spent three seasons (2014-17) with the OCN Blizzard where he grew his game and excelled on the ice. After playing in 161 MJHL games where he added 52 goals and 81 assists, the Cross Lake, Manitoba native committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Maine Black Bears.

Before getting to college, Keeper was named a Rookie Team All-Star, a First Team All-Star in back to back seasons, along with being named the MJHL’s Most Valuable Player and Top Defenseman in his third and final season.

“The MJHL will prepare you to play at the next level,” Keeper said. “Being put in every situation on the ice to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s a great league to prepare you for the next level whether it’s college or major junior.”

After just two seasons (2017-19) on the back end with the Maine Black Bears where Keeper’s rise through the hockey ranks continued, the young defender chose to leave college and signed his first professional contract, an entry-level deal with the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Brady made his NHL debut with the Panthers on March 28, 2019, against the Ottawa Senators in front of friends and family who made the trip to south Florida.

The now 23-year-old is fresh off of his first full professional season where he suited up in 61 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League.

MJHL celebrates Manitoba’s 150th birthday

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) celebrates Manitoba’s 150th birthday and over 100 years of junior hockey history.

On this date 150 years ago, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald introduced the Manitoba Act where shortly after the bill was given Royal Assent and Manitoba was brought into Canada as a province. Manitoba is also the first province to gain entrance into Confederation through talks with an indigenous government.

“While we may not be able to celebrate 150 years as we all would like, Happy Manitoba Day to an incredible province filled with amazing people,” shared MJHL Director of Operations, Kevin Saurette. “We are very proud of how this province has come together during this unprecedented time and we are so grateful to call Manitoba home.”

To celebrate and recognize Manitoba 150 and over 100 years in the province, the MJHL has launched a five-part video vignette series. The series reinforces the strong legacy of amateur hockey and its importance to youth and quality of life in Manitoba communities.

Click here to watch parts one, two, and three of the MJHL video vignette series.

Click here to read more about the MJHL’s rich history in Manitoba.

 

 

From undrafted to highly sought after

Seventy-one players saw their name called at the 2020 MJHL Draft last month and celebrated the moment with family and friends.

For the players who didn’t get drafted, it can be a tough experience to go through, but it can also become the motivation that pushes you to work harder and become better from it.

In the last few years, there’s no better example than Owen Murray who went undrafted in 2017 before becoming one of the MJHL’s premier defenders with the Portage Terriers.

“Draft day for me was a little bit tough, waking up in the morning and kind of expecting to get drafted,” Murray shared in an interview. “I had a really good season in my top age bantam year, I had calls with a couple teams and thought that there was a possibility but at the same time I was really undersized at the time.”

“I’m a pretty confident guy and I think when it happened that I didn’t get drafted I don’t overly worry about things and just keep moving forward and I think that was the best thing for me, not worrying about it and keep moving along with the process helped me through all that.”

Murray took that draft day disappointment and turned it into gold. His rookie season in the MJHL was one that included being named Rookie of the Year, CJHL Rookie of the Year Finalist, Turnbull & Anavet Cup Champion, along with a nod on the league’s All-Rookie team.

“As long as you stick to the process and grind it out somebody will find you and there’s always opportunity.”

The Decker, Manitoba native was chosen to play for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge this past season and in late February, he announced his commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey for the UMass Minutemen in one of college hockey’s most competitive conferences.

“A couple days after the draft my dad had a couple calls from a few teams and Portage was one of them. We knew the history of Yellowhead (Chiefs) guys going there so I think it was a pretty easy decision to select Portage to list me.”

“Don’t dwell on it,” Murray said of not getting drafted. “Bantam’s a young age and it’s hard to see the full potential of a player back then. I think if you stay motivated and you keep working hard anything can really happen. As long as you stick to the process and grind it out somebody will find you and there’s always opportunity.”

Watch Owen Murray’s full interview below.