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MJHL announces 2021-22 Safety & Vaccination Directives

WINNIPEG, MB – The MJHL has announced Safety and Vaccination Directives in preparation for the 2021/22 Season.

“The MJHL’s number one priority is to ensure the health and safety of ALL players, staff, officials and the entire MJHL Community as we prepare for the upcoming season safely and responsibly. Everyone has worked through very difficult, uncertain and stressful conditions this past year and we are all extremely excited for our elite athletes to return to playing the game they love in September in a healthy environment.  I am very encouraged by the positive indications that the vast majority of MJHL players / staff / officials are already or will be fully vaccinated in advance of MJHL training camps beginning late August / early September.” – Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner.

The MJHL continues to be a strong advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations following the advice and recommendations of #ProtectMB and Doctor’s Manitoba with the full expectation that ALL medically capable individuals associated with MJHL organizations will be fully vaccinated by August 15th.  This would ensure that all individuals will have maximum immunity / protection (full immunization) from COVID-19 in advance of MJHL training camps.

*Fully Vaccinated means individuals having received the full series of Vaccines authorized in Canada at least 14 days before any Team activity. COVID-19 Vaccines: Authorized vaccines – Canada.ca


Players / Staff / Officials WILL be required to submit proof of immunization prior to arrival for training camp and / or participating in team activities.

Immunization verification may be obtained via Digital Immunization Card, Physical Vaccination Card, Immunization Record, Proof of Immunization or an Official Document issued by a Canadian province or territory containing information of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination history. If individuals / teams require more information on Proof of Immunization they can visit: https://gov.mb.ca/covid19/vaccine/immunization-record.html

Players / Staff / Officials who are NOT fully vaccinated in advance of training camp and / or team activities will be required to produce a negative PCR Covid Test taken within 72 hours before the individual may participate in ANY team activity involving two or more individuals.

*The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

*Ongoing tests WILL be required throughout the 2021/22 season for unvaccinated individuals until such time they meet fully vaccinated requirements.

*It will be the responsibility of the individual to organize and cover the costs associated with required PCR tests.

Players / Staff / Officials who are NOT fully vaccinated will be required to wear a face covering or non-medical mask at all times while inside an arena / training facility for MJHL sanctioned individual / team activities – Including while actively participating in on-ice and off-ice indoor activity (games, practices, workouts, etc.).

Non-medical mask or face covering must be worn properly to cover one’s nose and mouth at all times. Penalties will occur should the Player / Staff not wear the mask properly during games.

International Players (American Players / Staff), who currently reside in the U.S. and who qualify as fully vaccinated travelers, will be able to enter Canada for discretionary travel starting August 9 2021. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/07/government-of-canada-announces-easing-of-border-measures-for-fully-vaccinated-travellers.html

All International (American travelers) will be required to submit a negative Covid-19 test result and proof of vaccination prior to arrival by way of the ArriveCAN smartphone app or web portal, but post-travel test results will no longer be necessary.

Fully vaccinated domestic travelers (MJHL players coming from out-of-province) entering Manitoba from anywhere in Canada are exempt from the self-isolation requirement. As such, they will NOT have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, provided at least two weeks have passed since the full completion of their COVID-19 vaccination required doses.

Players / Staff entering Manitoba who are NOT fully vaccinated will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival before participating in any team activities. To learn more about current travel protocols, including exemptions, please visit the Province of Manitoba’s website. Province of Manitoba | State of Emergency and Public Health Orders (gov.mb.ca)

Players / Staff / Officials who are NOT fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days before resuming participation in team activities. Players / Staff / Officials who are Fully Vaccinated and are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case are EXEMPT from self-isolation requirement. https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/fundamentals/self-isolation.html#exemptions

It is imperative that the MJHL offer a safe environment and mitigate risk for ALL players, staff & officials and throughout MJHL communities in preparation for the fall and season ahead. This can be achieved either through the completion of a full vaccination series of doses or with regular PCR testing for those who are unable or unwilling to get fully vaccinated or until such time an individual completes their full vaccination series of doses.

Please Note: The vaccination directives as outlined may be subject to change and do not preclude future public health orders or MJHL directives requiring a mandate that ONLY fully vaccinated players / staff / officials will be permitted to participate in MJHL activities during the 2021/22 season (training camps, on and off-ice training, practice, game play, etc.).

The MJHL is still awaiting further guidance / direction from public health authorities as to what role vaccinations will play for spectators attending MJHL games (spectator capacity) come September.

Puck drops for Opening Weekend in the MJHL on Friday, September 17th.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements to come.

About the MJHL

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is one of nine Junior ‘A’ Hockey Leagues in Canada and is a proud member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). The MJHL exists to provide the best hockey development opportunities its players.

Our goal is to develop players and ultimately have them develop into solid citizens who make a positive contribution to their community. Communities with a Junior ‘A’ hockey club generate their spirit in and around the community arena facilities. The goal of the MJHL is to provide its 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.

Cole Smith signs extension with Nashville Predators

Former Steinbach Pistons standout, Cole Smith recently signed a one-year, two-way contract extension with the Nashville Predators (NHL).

Cole spent two seasons in Steinbach (2014-16) where he posted 84 points in 92 career MJHL games before committing to the University of North Dakota (UND).

During his four seasons at UND, Cole became a relentless two-way forward for the Fighting Hawks. Coming out of college, his outstanding play earned him his first professional contract ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Cole spent five games in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades before earning a permanent spot in the American Hockey League with the Chicago Wolves. He spent 23 games with the Wolves, scoring five goals and five assists before earning his first game in the NHL with the Nashville Predators on January 14, 2021.


Gaber named to NCHC All-Academic Team

Former Dauphin Kings and Steinbach Pistons standout, Riese Gaber has been named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) All-Academic Team following his freshman season at the University of North Dakota.

The Gilbert Plains, MB native completed his first season of collegiate hockey for the Fighting Hawks, where he racked up 11 goals and 10 assists in 29 games during the 2020-21 campaign.

To be eligible for the NCHC Academic All-Conference Team, a student-athlete must compile a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average (or better) and have completed a full academic year at their current institution. Similarly, for NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes, a student-athlete must attain a 3.5 cumulative GPA or better with a full year of academic studies. Freshmen and first-year transfers were not eligible when the honors were first announced in early March, as they had not completed a full academic year, but with the 2020-21 academic calendar complete, the newcomers are now eligible to earn NCHC academic honors.

During his time in the MJHL, Riese was named to the MJHL All-Rookie Team, won gold at the World Junior A Challenge with Team Canada West and played a key role in the Steinbach Pistons run to the National Junior A Championship.


Adam Ingram commits to St. Cloud State University

Selkirk Steelers forward, Adam Ingram has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at St. Cloud State University.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound forward from West St. Paul, MB suited up in all eight games for the Steelers during the 2020-21 season where he scored two goals and five assists to lead the team in scoring during his rookie campaign.

Ingram joined the Steelers after one season with the Winnipeg Thrashers U18 AAA program.

MJHL announces Development Camp rosters & schedule

WINNIPEG, MB – The MJHL #ProtectMB U18 / U16 Prospect Development Camp gets underway Wednesday, July 14th and runs until Sunday, July 18th at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg.

U16 groups, made up of elite Manitoba players born in 2006 who are eligible for the 2022 MJHL Draft, will check-in on Wednesday with daily on and off-ice activities taking place until Saturday.

U18 groups, made up of elite MJHL Prospects from Manitoba born in 2004 and / or 2005, check-in on Thursday with daily on and off-ice activities taking place until Sunday.



The main goal of the camp is to help prepare these players on and off the ice for the upcoming season, 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. The camp will also provide these players with an important opportunity to return to organized hockey activities in a professional, safe, and fun environment.

Players will receive both on and off-ice skill development led by experienced professionals and high-level hockey players. The on-ice program will consist of practice and skill development group sessions, and the off-ice portion will cover elements related to athleticism and mental skills, as well as the technical and tactical skills required to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Daily Activities Include:

On-ice – group skill & development sessions, small area games, modified scrimmages, testing combine, etc.

Off-ice – group skill sessions, testing combine, etc.

*Daily To-Go meals provided by Boston Pizza

**Each player will receive a MJHL performance T-shirt.

***Equipment Manager and Athletic Therapist will be on-site for all group sessions

****Masks are always mandatory while in the facility (this includes for all on-ice sessions)

*****Development Seminars were held virtually in advance of this year’s camp which included:

Presentation by College Hockey Inc. covering all things related to playing NCAA Hockey

MJHL Hotstove – MJHL / Junior Development Discussion


Eddie Olczyk – Seattle Kraken (NHL)

Scott Arniel – Washington Capitals (NHL)

Don MacGillivary – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Ryan Smith – Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Alfie Michaud – University of Maine (NCAA)

The MJHL recently announced that it has partnered with the ProtectMB Team for this camp to help get important information about vaccines to Manitobans who need it and to continue connecting the MJHL community to Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

As of June 11th, over 96% of registered athletes in the camp had received their first COVID-19 dose and / or had an appointment booked while further committing to getting fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

Due to capacity restrictions and additional safety measures, the camp will be closed to the general public.  The only exceptions will be for family of players (max two per on-ice participant per session), event staff, MJHL team staff and higher-level coaches / scouts.

The MJHL will adjust as necessary should public health orders change in advance and / or during the camp.

MJHL partners with ProtectMB for Development Camp

WINNIPEG, MB – The MJHL is proud to partner with the ProtectMB Team for our upcoming U18 / U16 Prospect Development Camp being held from July 14 – 18 at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg.

“The MJHL is excited to work with the Province to help get important information about vaccines to Manitobans who need it and to continue connecting the MJHL community to Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

This will be one of many MJHL initiatives throughout the summer to help government spread the #ProtectMB message throughout the Province.

Learn more about Manitoba’s ProtectMB vaccination campaign: https://protectmb.ca/

Stay tuned for further exciting MJHL #ProtectMB U18 / U16 Prospect Development Camp announcements in the coming days.

CJHL endorses Portage in their request to host 2023 Centennial Cup.

WINNIPEG, MB – Prior to the pandemic, Portage la Prairie, MB was scheduled to host the 2020 Centennial Cup.  With the cancellation of the 2020 Event due to the pandemic, Portage requested through Hockey Canada and the CJHL the ability to have an opportunity to host a future Centennial Cup.  At this point, the MJHL supports the Portage Terriers and the City of Portage la Prairie in their request to host the 2023 Centennial Cup and have also received full support of the CJHL and Hockey Manitoba on this proposal.  Over the coming months, the MJHL, CJHL and Hockey Canada will work together on finalizing a hosting plan for Portage la Prairie that once complete would require final endorsement of the Hockey Canada Board to be fully ratified.

“It was disappointing when the event was cancelled in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic.  The MJHL and CJHL is fully supportive of the request made to Hockey Canada to allow Portage the opportunity to host the event in 2023.  The Province of Manitoba and the City of Portage la Prairie have proven to be an excellent host for Canada’s National Junior A Championship, and the Portage Terriers are proven competitors and champions in previous events.”  Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner.

“We are thankful for the support from the MJHL, CJHL and Hockey Manitoba and are eager to work with Hockey Canada for final approval to host this prestigious national event in the Spring of 2023.  We have everything in place from our 2020 Centennial Cup preparations to move forward seamlessly with planning and execution of the 2023 Centennial Cup.” Dale Deschouwer, Co-Chair Centennial Cup Host Committee.

Please stay tuned for further updates in the coming weeks.

MJHL proudly celebrates strong Indigenous roots

With files from Kyle Prystupa, MJHL Manager of Programming & Communications

In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, the MJHL celebrates the rich history of Indigenous players, coaches, management and staff that continue to be a fabric to the success of the league.

“In the spirit of reconciliation and continued collaboration we’re proud to acknowledge our strong connections to the Indigenous community, we’re excited to highlight the achievements of Indigenous players, coaches, and staff on this special celebration day,” said Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner.

Historically there is a deep collection of achievement from MJHL Indigenous alumni with NHL names like Reggie Leach, Ted Nolan, and Theo Fleury, the MJHL has had countless Indigenous players participate and succeed in the league.  Each season a significant segment of the player pool represents an Indigenous background such as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

The most recent player highlight comes from Brady Keeper of Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake) who advanced to the University of Maine (NCAA) through the OCN Blizzard.  In the spring of 2019, he earned an NHL contract with the Florida Panthers after just two college seasons, playing in his first NHL game on March 28, 2019. Brady spent the 2020-21 season between the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) and Florida Panthers.

Zach Whitecloud from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, a Virden Oil Capitals product, advanced to Bemidji State University (NCAA) and signed an entry-level deal with the Vegas Golden Knights in March of 2018.  Whitecloud enjoyed a strong rookie season as a professional and was a major factor in the Chicago Wolves (AHL) run to the 2019 Calder Cup finals. After splitting time between Chicago and Vegas the following season, Whitecoud has become a mainstay on the Golden Knights blueline to this day.

One of the most famous MJHL alumni, Jordin Tootoo (Inuk) played a pivotal season in his path to the WHL and eventually the NHL with the OCN Blizzard in 1998-99.  At just 15, Tootoo scored sixteen goals and thirty-seven points in forty-seven games along with over two hundred penalty minutes helping the Blizzard win the MJHL title that season.

A talented pair of players with Indigenous backgrounds who are recently connected to the Swan Valley Stampeders organization have also gone onto professional hockey. Tristan Langan spent the 2020-21 season in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears while Riley McKay suited up for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.

Currently the MJHL has two clubs operating on First Nation communities, the OCN Blizzard founded by Opaskwayak Cree Nation in 1996 as well as the Waywayseecappo Wolverines established in 1999 by Waywayseecappo First Nation.  Waywayseecappo is currently the only First Nations owned and operated Junior A franchise in Canada. Both the Wolverines and Blizzard often carry a contingent of Indigenous players and staff. The Blizzard have been to the league final nine times in their history winning an impressive five consecutive titles spanning from 1999-2003.

Developing into one of the MJHL’s premier forwards, Nakodan Greyeyes of Pinaymootang First Nation followed up his rookie season in Dauphin with a 74 point campaign in 2019-20. Greyeyes will be a significant part of the Kings roster in 2021-22.

Bryden Sinclair of Peguis First Nation was named Captain of the OCN Blizzard ahead of the 2021-22 MJHL season and is committed to play NCAA Division 1 Hockey at the University of Maine.

Recently, Norway House First Nation member, Tony Apetagon spent two seasons in the MJHL with OCN and Winnipeg before he committed to play for the University of Manitoba Bisons (USPORTS). During the pandemic, Apetagon also spent time as a coach for the Blizzard.

Off the ice consistently around the league, team staff and personnel also represent Indigenous backgrounds as coaches, managers, directors, and support staff.

Waywayseecappo Wolverines Head Coach & General Manager, Taylor Harnett from Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation has guided the Wolverines to three straight seasons of .500 or better for the first time in franchise history. Wolverines Governor, Morley Watson hails from Ochapowace Nation and is the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief.

The Métis Nation has always been well represented in the league with many achieving all-star titles and league scoring champions.  Names like Norm Fay and Justin Tetrault were both leading scorers of the league in the early 2000s.

On a yearly basis, several MJHL prospects  go on to represent Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships where in recent years, Team Manitoba has won Gold (2017 & 2019).

Throughout each season the MJHL and it’s 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.

MJHL implements anti-racism player education program

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) announces the implementation of a new Anti-Racism Player Education Program which will strengthen our league policies regarding verbal taunts, insults, intimidation actions based on discriminatory behaviors.

The MJHL continues to enhance our current Policies and Code of Conduct in support of our indigenous and racialized community athletes, staff, families and communities.

Anti-Racism Player Education Seminars

Beginning in the 2021-22 season, anti-racism education seminars targeted for MJHL players, coaches, and support staff will be provided to each member team covering a range of Indigenous topics & issues, sensitivity & cultural awareness training in anti-discrimination and anti-oppression education.

The goals of the anti-discrimination education seminars are to:

  1. Provide players / staff with language and terminology concerning anti-discrimination and anti-oppression.
  2. Assist players / staff in recognizing and identifying problematic behaviors in themselves and others.
  3. Involve players / staff to actively engage and commit to promoting a respectful and supportive hockey culture.

Topics that will be covered during the education seminars will lay the foundation for learning about racism and discrimination:

Positionality & Intersectionality, Culture & Socialization, Prejudice & Stereotypes and Discrimination & Racism.

The seminars will be led by MJHL alumni Wade Houle.  Wade graduated from the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in 2006 and also completed his Education Graduate Diploma from Brandon University in 2018.  Wade grew up in the Metis community of Vogar, MB.  His mother is from the Lake Manitoba First Nation and his father is from the Ebb & Flow First Nation, from which Wade is a band member.

Presently, Wade is a high school teacher in Dauphin, MB, has been an educator for the past 15 years and is currently completing his Master’s Degree Thesis in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Brandon University.  In February of 2020, Wade started a small business called Bright Sky Consulting where he works with a variety of businesses and organizations with the implementation of their in-house discrimination and racial sensitivity training.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and contributing to players and personnel on becoming anti-racist and anti-oppressive.  This shows not only a commitment to the teams, but a commitment to creating contributing and caring citizens in the Manitoba community,” Houle expressed.

“Through internal discussions as a league over the course of the past season, it became apparent that there is much more that the MJHL could and should be doing to address racism and discrimination in our sport while also providing important and necessary anti-racism education for our players / staff.  We know that discrimination unfortunately still exists in our society and this type of education is required for change to take place. This program will play an important role in the MJHL being part of the solution going forward,” said Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner

Addressing Verbal taunts, Insults or Intimidation Actions or Behaviors based on Discriminatory Grounds (race, religion, color, sexual orientation, etc.)

The MJHL Board of Governors passed a motion during the 2021 MJHL AGM to strengthen MJHL policies and review procedures regarding verbal taunts, insults or intimidation actions or behaviors based on discriminatory grounds (race, religion, color, sexual orientation, etc.)

Going forward, any player, team official, executive member, or any other Hockey Canada member who is found, to have acted contrary to our Anti-Discrimination Policy, will be assessed the following minimum automatic penalties:

1st Infraction – Minimum 3 Game Suspension

2nd Infraction – Minimum 5 Game Suspension

3rd Infraction – Indefinite Suspension

**Any party failing to cooperate with the fact-finding process may be subject to suspension as determined by the MJHL**

**Currently, if any of the above are reported in the on-ice officials post game report, following investigation, it is an automatic minimum suspension following the above suspension guidelines**

“The MJHL is committed to providing a positive, respectful and inclusive hockey experience for all participants in a safe sporting environment, free of discrimination,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

Hundreds of young athletes of all backgrounds from across North America have taken to the ice in the MJHL over the years and continue to greatly contribute to the success of the league. The MJHL prides itself on working to ensure an inclusive atmosphere for all players, staff and their families.

“Through this balanced approach of both educating players and strengthening our review and sanction policies, we aim to raise awareness within our players and staff, to contribute positively to society and   nurture an inclusive Hockey Culture within our league,” Saurette concluded.

“It’s been ongoing for many years but it’s now time to try and do something about it, it affects everybody. To experience it first hand, it really pisses you off. Every non-treaty person in this country should be educated. We are all equal and it doesn’t matter what colour you are,” Waywayseecappo First Nation Chief, Murray Clearsky said.

“This is exactly what the game of Hockey and other sports need, is Education. Educating our players is the first step in eliminating this from our game. Understanding what a negative impact racism & discrimination has on people, will make a difference. This by any means is not an epidemic in our game, but it is present. The Changes implemented to the MJHL’s policy regarding discipline and suspensions will hopefully be a last resort. It is our mission to eliminate this from Society and we are hopeful other leagues in sport take notice,” shared Taylor Harnett, Wolverines Head Coach & General Manager.

“The MJHL has become truly diverse not only on the ice but in the stands and with corporate sponsorship as well. It is for these reasons the MJHL is standing up to racism so our great product can be enjoyed by all in an inclusive atmosphere,” Wolverines Governor, Morley Watson said.

MJHL APTN Hockey Hopes Program

The MJHL and APTN teamed up last season to help share the importance of inclusivity in the game of hockey through the APTN Hockey Hopes Program and look forward to making visits in person this coming season.

APTN Hockey Hopes has each MJHL team making two school visits to First Nations and non-First Nations schools in their region, where players will read to a classroom, share the importance of inclusivity in hockey and answer questions from the curious students.

About the MJHL

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is one of nine Junior ‘A’ Hockey Leagues in Canada and is a proud member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). The MJHL exists to provide the best hockey development opportunities its players.

Our goal is to develop players and ultimately have them develop into solid citizens who make a positive contribution to their community. Communities with a Junior ‘A’ hockey club generate their spirit in and around the community arena facilities. The goal of the MJHL is to provide its 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.

Neepawa unveils ‘Titans’ name with logo, jersey design

The Neepawa MJHL franchise has changed their name to Titans.

Titans was one of five names brought to the table for discussion after the organization decided to drop their longtime name and logo.

According to Titans Head Coach and General Manager, Ken Pearson, it was a long time coming but something that the organization and Town of Neepawa can now be proud of.

“The process has been long and extensive, but for the most part I think a lot of fun for myself and the group that was tasked with the rebrand. The organization is very excited to begin a new era of hockey in Neepawa and surrounding area, creating new history so to speak,” Pearson shared.









The organization felt it was important to have a great significance tied to the name and logo to properly reflect the community in which they play in.

“A Titan is known as one that stands out for greatness of achievement and we feel our community is full of Titans in every facet of life. Neepawa is known as the ‘Land of Plenty’ and feel Neepawa is a Titan in the agriculture, lumber, pork production and brewing industry,” Pearson explained.

“Paying homage to these important pillars of our community is an integral part of our rebrand. The logo plays off the Greek mythological definition of Titan,  “One that is gigantic in size or power.” The colors chosen reflects a field of canola on the horizon, the silver and black pay tribute to the classic look of Junior hockey clubs of the 90’s.”

“As part of the process,  a group from the Board of Directors, including myself began submitting names to each other. Once we had it down to about 4/5 names we brought those to the rest of the Board members for discussion. Once we had the name we wanted we then moved onto colors and logo design. This included bringing in Brooks Freeman from Brooks Freeman Design to help complete the logos chosen. Brooks and myself spent a few weeks going back and forth and making adjustments until we were able to find the finished product. We also talked with alumni, business leaders in the community, and others to get input,” Pearson concluded.


MJHL announces 2021-22 season overview

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is delighted to announce the regular season start date, schedule format, divisional format and important dates for the upcoming 2021-22 season.


The puck will drop for opening weekend on Friday, September 17th

Opening weekend will feature six home and home divisional matchups taking place over the course of the weekend involving all 12 member teams.

The MJHL will make a return to two-divisions for the 2021-22 season featuring a West and East division with six member teams making up each division.

West East
Dauphin Kings Portage Terriers
Neepawa Titans Selkirk Steelers
OCN Blizzard Steinbach Pistons
Swan Valley Stampeders Winkler Flyers
Waywayseecappo Wolverines Winnipeg Blues
Virden Oil Capitals Winnipeg Freeze

Once the season gets underway on September 17th, each team will play a 54-game schedule on their road to the MJHL Turnbull Cup Playoffs.

Each team will play 40 games within their division and 14 games outside of their division.  The season will begin with 10 weeks of home and home divisional play, followed by six weeks of non-divisional matchups, before moving to a more traditional schedule format in January.

The 2021 MJHL Player Showcase will take place at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie from November 22 – 24th and will feature all 12 member teams playing two non-divisional games each based on standings at that time.  The Showcase is scheduled to begin directly after first half divisional matchups have concluded which will provide a very competitive and high-performance environment for the teams, athletes and the many scouts that will be in attendance.

1st and 2nd Division Teams will play one game against each of their Divisional Counterparts.

3rd and 4th Division Teams will play one game against each of their Divisional Counterparts.

5th and 6th  Division Teams will play one game against each of their Divisional Counterparts.

The 2021 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) will take place in in Cornwall, Ontario from December 12th – 18th.

The WJAC is a U20 event that represents a partnership between Hockey Canada, the CJHL, and the IIHF.  The tournament features six teams from across the globe with Canada represented by two regional squads (Canada West / Canada East).  Each season, MJHL players / staff are selected to participate in the tournament representing  Team Canada West. The WJAC has produced more than 300 NHL draft picks, including 42 selected in the first round – names like Tyson Jost, Nikolai Ehlers, Andrei Svechnikov, Brock Boeser, Kyle Connor, Hampus Lindholm, David Pastrnak, Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kyle Turris, Andrei Vasilevski, and Cale Makar.

The 2022 CJHL Prospects Game will be held in January, 2022.

The showcase event represents a partnership between the NHL, NHL Central Scouting and the CJHL.  Players from across the CJHL are selected by NHL Central Scouting and will be among the top 40 CJHL prospects heading into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.  Each season MJHL players are selected to participate in this event.

Next up, the MJHL/SJHL joint player showcase will be hosted by the MJHL from January 25-26, 2022

Hosted in Winnipeg at the impressive Seven Oaks Sportsplex.  The event brings together the top 60 players from each league providing maximum high-performance exposure opportunities in front of NHL, WHL, U SPORTS and NCAA scouts.

The 2021-22 MJHL regular season will conclude on Sunday, March 13th, 2022 with the MJHL Turnbull Cup playoffs beginning the week of March 14th.   **Playoff format to be finalized in the coming weeks**

From there, the MJHL Champion will face-off against the SJHL Champion for the ANAVET Cup in a best of 7 series beginning on Friday, April 29th 

The ANAVET Cup champion will compete in the 2022 Centennial Cup presented by Tim Hortons (CJHL National Junior A Championship).

The 2022 Centennial Cup will take place from May 20 – 29 at Affinity Place in Estevan, SK.

Sirius Junior World Cup held in Sochi, Russia in August of 2022.

Subject to Regulatory Approvals, the MJHL will send an all-star team to this international IIHF sanctioned event, in partnership with the CJHL and Hockey Canada, hosted by the KHL.


Every MJHL exhibition, regular season, showcase and playoff game will be streamed online in HD with play-by-play through the MJHL partnership with HockeyTV.  Each game will be available to be streamed live or on-demand by family, friends, fans and scouts alike.

InStat Hockey

Every MJHL player this season will be provided with their own personal player page through the MJHL partnership with InStat Hockey. Included in this partnership:

  • Players will receive a one-page, individual, analytical report sent to them after each game.
  • Players will receive direct video links sent to them with all of their important actions and shifts from each game.
  • Players can create their own highlights by clipping videos, creating their own playlists and sharing or downloading videos.
  • Players can watch NHL players to learn from the best and to help them develop their own game.
  • Maximum MJHL player exposure will be provided to NHL, Major Junior, NCAA D-I, D-III, and U Sports teams who all utilize the InStat Program.
  • All clients listed above will have direct access to all MJHL player and team video data.

Full schedule release for the 2021 Exhibition Season and 2021-22 Regular Season will be announced in the coming weeks.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements to come.

Winnipeg to host MJHL-SJHL Showcase in 2022

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) are pleased to announce that the joint MJHL-SJHL Showcase will return for the 2021-22 season.

The showcase event will be held in Manitoba for the first time from January 25-26, 2022 at the impressive Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg, MB.

The joint Showcase will feature 3 teams from each league made up with the top 60 players in the MJHL and in the SJHL.  The 3 teams representing each league will consist of players aged 16 to 20 who will be selected by the coaches from their respective leagues.  One team will be comprised of players who are 18 and under and two teams will be made up of players who are 20 and under – Each team will play 2 games during the event.

“The MJHL is pleased to continue our strong partnership with the SJHL and we are extremely excited to host this amazing event in Manitoba, especially after not being able to hold the event last season,” explained MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“This event gives athletes from each league an amazing opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities in a high-performance environment for scouts from all higher levels of hockey.”

Annually, the Showcase is heavily attended by NHL, NCAA, Major Junior and University Programs from across North America and this event will be another important step for MJHL & SJHL athletes in attracting the attention of the many scouts / coaches that will be in attendance.

“We look forward to building off the success of the previous three years of the joint Showcase held in Saskatchewan and are ecstatic to be able to provide this wonderful opportunity for our elite athletes once again,” shared SJHL President, Bill Chow.

Please stay tuned for further exciting MJHL / SJHL Showcase announcements to come.

Niverville awarded expansion franchise for 2022-23

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) Board of Governors announced today that it has granted an expansion franchise to operate in Niverville, MB.

The new MJHL member will play its inaugural season from the brand new Niverville Community Resource and Recreation Centre (CRRC) in the 2022-2023 campaign.

“Niverville is recognized as one of the fastest growing communities in the province and the MJHL is thrilled to bring a new organization into this community, while adding another first-class, state of the art facility to our League,” said MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

“We have been in ongoing discussions with this group for a number of years and are very confident that the community owned non-profit organization and the Town of Niverville will provide an ideal new home market for the MJHL going forward. I would also like to recognize the significant commitment and efforts of Clarence Braun who was instrumental in helping bring a new MJHL franchise to the Town of Niverville,” Saurette concluded.

Niverville’s Mayor, Myron Dyck shared his excitement in welcoming Junior A Hockey to the growing Town of Niverville.

“On behalf of the Town of Niverville I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the MJHL to our community and to congratulate the group of local residents for their hard work in making their dream a reality today. We are excited for this news and wish both the MJHL, local resident Clarence Braun, his management team, and all their supporters much success in the years ahead,” shared Myron Dyck, Mayor of Niverville.

Niverville Junior A Hockey Inc.

After considering this opportunity for some years, we at Niverville A Junior Hockey Inc. are both excited and proud to be accepted as the newest franchise entry into the MJHL. As we have been exploring entry into the MJHL, we have extended the opportunity for ownership and have seen many new shareholders added within the past few months. That opportunity will continue as we follow a plan to be ready for the 2022-2023 MJHL season.

As a shareholder group for this community owned not for profit team, we are excited to be in the community we are in. We are aware of the many young families that have made Niverville their home and the investment that they have made to our community. We look forward to engaging with many hundreds of volunteers in the surrounding area as we put the various leadership teams into place in the weeks and months ahead.

We are especially grateful to the Council of the Town of Niverville and administration for their vision in the building of this awesome community recreational space called the CRRC. We are thankful for their support as we move forward and make plans for it to be our hockey home for many years to come.

I want to personally express great appreciation to Kim Davis the former commissioner of the MJHL and its present commissioner Kevin Saurette. Kim was their back in our early meeting’s. He was gracious in helping us understand what this opportunity could look like. In the past few years Kevin has been there for us at every turn in his support in representing our cause to the league governors.

We are grateful to all the league partners, governors and their representative for having the confidence to welcome us in. We are looking forward to providing a great game experience and a quality hockey product on the ice that will add value to the MJHL as a league. We believe that this initiative will provide another great opportunity for young players in the surrounding area to play Junior A hockey at the highest level.

We anticipate our initial website to be functional within a short period of time and will release that info as it becomes available. Stay tuned for further updates and we thank you all.

For more additional information please contact Clarence Braun at 204-791-2587 or email at clareb2@shaw.ca.

The MJHL looks forward to working with the new management and ownership group along with the Town of Niverville in the days ahead as they begin their journey towards their inaugural 2022-23 season in the MJHL.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements to come.

About the MJHL

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

Our goal is to develop players and ultimately have them develop into solid citizens who make a positive contribution to their community. Communities with a Junior ‘A’ hockey club generate their spirit in and around the community arena facilities. The goal of the MJHL is to provide its 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.

Portage la Prairie to host 2021 MJHL Player Showcase

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to announce that the 2021 MJHL Player Showcase will take place November 22-24 at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie.

The Showcase will feature all 12 MJHL teams in one location over three days with each team playing two highly competitive regular season games during the high-performance event.

“We are extremely excited for the 2021 edition of the MJHL Showcase after not being able to host the event last season,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette. “For our elite athletes, these games are a very important step in attracting the attention of the many NCAA, Major Junior, University, NHL and NHL Central Scouting scouts & coaches that will be attending from across North America. ”

“For both fans of the MJHL and the game of hockey, this event is a great way to watch a variety of high-caliber hockey games, while enjoying the many comforts and amenities that Stride Place has to offer. The timing of the event will allow teams and players the ability to be in mid-season form so that they are best prepared to showcase themselves positively,” Saurette concluded.

Please stay tuned for further exciting 2021/22 season announcements to come.

Dean Stewart named to ECHL All-Rookie Team

Former Portage Terriers standout, Dean Stewart has been named to the ECHL’s All-Rookie Team after a strong season on the blueline for the Wichita Thunder.

The All-Rookie Team is determined in a vote of ECHL coaches, broadcasters, media relations directors and media, who were asked to select a goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards.

Dean led rookie blueliners with 35 points and a +21 rating – which is third among all defensemen – and his six goals are fifth among rookie defensemen.

Stewart played 75 MJHL games for the Terriers between 2014-16, where he helped the club to a pair of Turnbull Cup Championships, earned a NCAA Div. 1 scholarship to Nebraska-Omaha and was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the 7th round of the NHL Draft.


Tyson Ramsey named CJHL Coach of the Year finalist

Courtesy of CJHL

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), in conjunction with the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association (NHLCA) announced Wednesday, the names of the five finalists for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, emblematic of the CJHL Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 campaign.

The following are the five finalists for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, which are listed alphabetically, by league.

Pier-Alexandre Poulin, Condors du Cégep Beauce-Appalaches (LHJAAAQ)
Brad MacKenzie, Grand Falls Rapids (MHL)
Tyson Ramsey, Virden Oil Capitals (MJHL)
Corey Beer, Timmins Rock (NOJHL)
Peter Goulet, Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL)
This honour, presented annually by the CJHL and NHLCA, is in memory of Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant Mark Cross, who were among those who sadly lost their lives following the tragic events of April 6, 2018.

Each of the five nominees were determined, following a voting process completed by the member leagues who participated in this season’s proceedings.

Due to the circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in various levels of play across the CJHL this season, the format for the 2020-21 award was altered to reflect that.

The criteria for nomination included the following:

ˑ A team’s coach who made a difference with his team in a non-hockey related role with his club, be it through player support, programs that aided in well-being, offering mental health programs, etc.

ˑ A CJHL coach that was involved in a community initiative that provided support and player involvement to a local non-profit program.

ˑ Someone who made an impact with their team in skill development, both on and off the ice.

ˑ On-ice success during the 2020-21 season, if applicable.

Earning honourable mention for the 2020-21 Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award as CJHL Coach of the Year, presented in conjunction with the NHL Coaches’ Association were: Scott Barney, Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) & Kurt Walsten, Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL).

For further information, contact

Brent Ladds

Canadian Junior Hockey League
ladds@cjhlhockey.com (Email)

Tom Annelin
Director of Communications

Canadian Junior Hockey League
annelin@cjhlhockey.com (Email)

CJHL virtual AGM recap

CJHL Virtual AGM recap courtesy of CJHL

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) announced Tuesday some of the key points from its recently completed Annual General Meeting, which was held virtually with each of its nine-member league commissioners and/or presidents.

The AGM finalized the appointment of Robert Mazzuca (NOJHL) as chairman of the board, along with Marty Savoy (OJHL) and Ryan Bartoshyk (AJHL) serving as vice-chairs as well as Bill Chow (SJHL) returning in his role as treasurer and Brent Ladds as CJHL president.

Other items of interest from the AGM included:

· The CJHL will partner with Simplicity Consultants, out of Nova Scotia, to develop a go-forward blueprint for the CJHL’s future.

· The CJHL Executive Board ratified its proposed Hockey Canada Agreement, which was developed in conjunction with Hockey Canada, and awaits their final approval, to ensure a true a partnership with the country’s national governing body and its members.

· Discussion and a proposed time table were presented on new initiatives developed by the CJHL’s Player Safety and Communications’ committees in order to improve and create consistency in both areas.

· The announcement was made of the dates for the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, which will be hosted by Estevan Bruins (SJHL), May 20-29, 2022.

· It was also released that Cornwall, Ont., will host the 2021 World Junior A Challenge, December 12-18 of this year.

· The CJHL Board will focus on new initiatives being brought forward in June in response to recommendations from their newly created Player Education Committee as well as the CJHL Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

ABOUT THE CJHL: The Canadian Junior Hockey League consists of nine sanctioned Jr. A Leagues across the country and boasts 117 member teams along with over 2,500 players.

For further information, contact

Brent Ladds

Canadian Junior Hockey League
ladds@cjhlhockey.com (Email)

Tom Annelin
Director of Communications

Canadian Junior Hockey League
annelin@cjhlhockey.com (Email)

Ben Hilhorst named recipient of RBC Community Award

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is proud to announce, Ben Hilhorst as the recipient of the 2020-21 RBC | MJHL Community Award.

During the regular season, each MJHL member team nominated a worthy player who made a positive contribution in their local community. All 12 players nominated displayed outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship both on and off the ice and a commitment to volunteerism. RBC graciously made a donation on each player’s behalf to their respective local school division.

Ben Hilhorst was selected as the top ambassador overall for his work volunteering in a number of areas throughout his four-year MJHL career in OCN and Neepawa. Ben’s community involvement included reading to children during school visits, shoveling walk ways for local seniors, providing assistance during community fundraisers along with supporting local businesses and much more. RBC will make an additional donation in Ben’s name to a school of his choice.

“Ben has displayed outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship both on and off the ice and an amazing commitment to volunteerism during his time in the MJHL.  He is a very worthy recipient of this recognition,” Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner shared.

Congratulations, Ben and thank you to all MJHL players who make a positive impact in the province.  RBC is proud to support and recognize the outstanding work of all MJHL teams who enhance the communities they serve.

MJHL announces official partnership with InStat Hockey

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is excited to officially announced a video analysis and statistical data partnership with InStat Hockey for the 2021-2022 season.

InStat is used by league and federation offices, coaches, scouts and management as a data and communication tool assisting in coaching processes, player development, statistical analysis, and video scouting. At the team level, coaches and players can receive detailed game-by-game analytical reports, player shifts, and emailed web links to all corresponding to data-specific video.

“We are extremely excited to add InStat Hockey as an official partner for the upcoming season,” said MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette. “InStat will provide valuable development benefits for players, team staff and on-ice officials while allowing for enhanced exposure opportunities for our athletes.”  It will also provide teams with an advanced tool to better analyze player and team performance by way of detailed video and advanced statistics.”

With InStat, coaches will receive team statistics and individual player data for each game, including time on ice, shots, scoring chances, faceoffs, hits, saves, and more advanced stats such as CORSI and xG. The league and its teams will also have the ability to use the video of teams and players from various professional, collegiate, junior and youth programs worldwide, for the purpose of scouting and player development.

“The MJHL is a premier junior hockey league and a leader when it comes to player development and technological enhancements, and we are confident that our services will only support in the growth and development of not just the players, but also the coaches and on-ice officials,” InStat Director of North America, Mark Yates explained.

“This new partnership with the league, after teams this past season were able to use InStat during the pandemic, just goes to show the value and the trust they have in our product and how we can be an asset to the players and teams individually, and the league as a whole,” Yates continued.

Benefits of the MJHL – InStat Partnership:

  • MJHL Coaches receive full statistical / video breakdown of every MJHL game
  • MJHL Coaches receive post-game analytical reports
  • MJHL Coaches receive pre-scout analytical reports
  • MJHL Coaches can watch and use NHL clips as a coaching/development tool
  • MJHL Coaches receive access to all leagues (any game video/stats/clips available to review)
  • Players provided their own player page + NHL team and player pages
  • Players receive a one-page, individual, analytical report after each game
  • Players will receive direct video links to their important actions and all shifts
  • Players can create their own highlights by clipping videos, creating their own playlists and sharing or downloading videos
  • Players can watch NHL players to learn from the best and develop their own game
  • Maximum player exposure to NHL, CHL, NCAA D-I, D-III, and USports teams
  • All clients at the levels above will have direct access to the MJHL teams and players
  • InStat’s partnership with RinkNet means seamless access for scouts to view MJHL player video (from InStat) directly from a player’s RinkNet profile
  • On-ice Officials receive the capability to enter the platform and review their performance(s)
  • On-ice Officials receive video links to their actions, calls and a full post-game report via email
  • MJHL League Office to receive access to the platform for the purposes of discipline review, marketing / promotion, player / coach development, etc.

Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements in the days to come.

InStat Sport, founded in 2007, is a leading provider of performance analysis services in football/soccer, basketball and ice hockey. Ice hockey clients of InStat range from the top North American and European professional, collegiate, junior and youth hockey leagues and teams in both men’s and women’s hockey. For more information regarding the InStat platform and range of services, visit www.instatsport.com

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 CJHL is an association of ten Junior ‘A’ leagues in Canada. The MJHL exists to provide the best hockey development opportunities for players.

Our goal is to develop players and ultimately have them develop into solid citizens who make a positive contribution to their community. Communities with a Junior ‘A’ hockey club generate their spirit in and around the community arena facilities. The goal of the MJHL is to provide its fans, communities and supporters with the best possible hockey product through dedication to improvement in all areas of the game both on and off the ice.

Mission Statement

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

MJHL Job Posting | Kings Marketing & Business Mgr.

Courtesy of Dauphin Kings

The Dauphin Kings are now accepting applications for the position of Marketing & Business Manager.

Dauphin Kings Marketing & Business Manager is responsible for managing and developing the team’s strategic marketing plan, partnerships, fundraising, promotions, game day operations, advertising, and events on behalf of the franchise. The Marketing & Business Manager will report directly to Director of Marketing of the board and work closely with the General Manager and coaching staff to ensure the team is being promoted to an optimal level. It is very important the Marketing & Business Manager creates opportunities for the team to work with other organizations in Dauphin and the Parkland region, to build strong partnerships within these communities.

Reports to: Director of Marketing – Dauphin Kings Board of Directors

Job Duties/Responsibilities: Create and manage a marketing and business strategy around the Dauphin Kings to achieve expected outcomes in the following areas:

  1. Sponsorship, Advertising & Ticket Sales:
  • Responsible for sponsorship, sponsor servicing, advertising, and developing corporate partnerships.
  • Responsible for achieving established sales goals and budgets.
  • Develop, write and present corporate sponsorship proposals to prospective partners.
  • Create new sales inventory or modify existing collateral as required.

2. Team Promotions & Marketing

  • Work with local media, write press releases to maximize exposure.
  • Assist with all non-hockey functions- take a co-chair, or the lead, in Par 3, Comedy Night, Tractor Lotto
  • Website management and social media marketing plans.
  • Build the brand and image of the Dauphin Kings in the community and among its peers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
  • Oversee Season Ticket sales, marketing strategies, data base, follow ups and deliveries.
  • Lead roll on 50/50 with lotteries and game day operations
  • Work in conjunction with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League to promote league corporate sponsorship.

3. Community Networking

  • Work with community organizations to promote the “Kings in the Community” program in Dauphin and the Parkland region.
  • Promote community activities as required.
  • Respond to fan and partnership requests.

4. Game Day Operations

  • Recruit and manage volunteers to optimize the fan experience.
    o Staff volunteers for the day, 6/7 on-ice players, etc.
  • Manage game day preparations and coordination of game day events.
  • PA and Video Scripting, Pre-game testing in arena, Promotion Equipment, Balancing, reconciling and depositing cash.

Assets Required

  • Strong project management and writing/editing skills.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with individuals or groups of people.
  • Sports enthusiast, energetic, creative.
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently on multiple projects and tasks in a fast-paced environment.
  • Positive attitude and a strong commitment to the franchise.
  • Passionate about hockey and making a difference in your community.
  • Must be able to work evenings, weekends and holidays as required.

Compensation: Base salary + commission
Estimated start date: July 5, 2021
Please send resume and cover letter no later than June 4th, 2021 to:
Dauphin Kings Director of Marketing: Ron Hedley- rhedley17@gmail.com

MJHL summer programs and season planning update

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and its 12 member organizations, are currently making all necessary preparations for the 2021-2022 season which includes full season schedule planning with multiple options.

The MJHL will continue to work with Sport Manitoba, Hockey Manitoba, Government and Public Health Officials to ensure that all necessary safety precautions and guidelines are in place to commence the 2021/22 season in September safely and responsibly. The expectation with the current vaccine rollout timelines within the province is that MJHL fans will be permitted to attend and support MJHL Hockey come September – More specific schedule details to follow in the coming weeks.

The MJHL Spring Development Program has been ongoing since April 4th, which has allowed MJHL players the opportunity to return to the ice for fun and skill development sessions to benefit their overall mental, physical, social and developmental well-being. The Program follows current public health orders and will run into the latter half of May.  To date, 45 + on-ice development group sessions have been completed.

Planning continues for the MJHL Prospect Development Camp (2005/2004 Manitoba born MJHL Prospects) and the MJHL Draft Prospect Camp (2006 Manitoba born 2022 MJHL Draft Prospects) which will take place in Winnipeg from July 14 -18. Player invitations have been sent with registrations filling up quickly.

The 2021 MJHL AGM is planned to be held virtually on Thursday, June 3rd.

The MJHL would like to thank the amazing partners, organizations, staff, players, volunteers, and the entire MJHL community for their vital support and commitment during these unprecedented times – The Future is Bright for the MJHL.

Please stay tuned for exciting announcements still to come.

MJHL Podcast Feature | Ed Belfour

MJHL Podcast Episode 32, featuring Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender, Ed Belfour.

Ed joined the podcast to chat about playing in the MJHL for Winkler, earning a scholarship to UND, winning the Stanley Cup with Dallas and much more.

Belfour spent three seasons in the MJHL playing for the Winkler Flyers before earning an NCAA Division 1 scholarship to the University of North Dakota. The top goaltender in the MJHL receives the Ed Belfour Trophy on a yearly basis.

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

MJHL launches spring development program

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) has announced the launch of a spring development program geared towards current MJHL Players located in Manitoba beginning Tuesday, April 6th.

The MJHL spring development program will provide MJHL players the opportunity to return to the ice in a safe, structured and sensible manner with a strong focus on fun and development.

“We are excited to launch this program, within the parameters of Public Health Orders and Return to Play Guidelines, to help ensure our athletes have the opportunity during this time to return to the game they love and for their overall mental, physical, social and developmental well-being,” shared Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner.

The spring development program will consist of 12-16 on-ice development sessions per group throughout April and into May with groups operating separately in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Virden.

The MJHL will continue to monitor and adjust to public health orders. Please stay tuned for further exciting announcements to come.

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 CJHL is an association of ten Junior ‘A’ leagues in Canada. The MJHL exists to provide the best hockey development opportunities for players.

Our goal is to develop players and ultimately have them develop into solid citizens who make a positive contribution to their community. Communities with a Junior ‘A’ hockey club generate their spirit in and around the community arena facilities. The goal of the MJHL is to provide its fans, communities and supporters with the best possible hockey product through dedication to improvement in all areas of the game both on and off the ice.

Mission Statement

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

MJHL Podcast Feature | Leah Hextall

MJHL Podcast Episode 32, featuring TV Host/Play by Play Announcer, Leah Hextall.

Leah joins to chat about her recent call of the NCAA Tournament, her pursuit of becoming a full-time play by play announcer along with her story of making history in March of 2020.

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

Humboldt Broncos | Remembrance & Reflection

Courtesy of Canadian Junior Hockey League

CALGARY, Alta. – With time, as they say, embraces in aiding the healing process.

Tuesday marks three years since the horrific events of April 6, 2018 that rocked the Humboldt Broncos and all of the hockey world.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League reflects on this sombre occasion that gutted the Broncos organization, their loved ones and family members as well as the town of Humboldt, Sask.

In these unprecedented times, with the entire globe continuing to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CJHL, along with the each of its members, including the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League as well as its partner, Hockey Canada, and the entire hockey world pauses today to reflect and fondly remember everyone effected as a result of the tragedy.

To the families, the entire CJHL remains steadfast in its continued remembrance and support to each and everyone, including the Broncos organization, who continue to deal with it all as time marches on.

To the first responders, who remained vigilant and contributed with valour and steadfast dedication, we thank you for all your efforts, which continue today in dealing with current global events.

With Monday’s announcement on the launch of the proposed Humboldt Broncos Tribute Centre & Memorial, the healing process continues with this extremely worthwhile project, which will help signify the legacy of all those lost or injured on the horrific day.

To learn more, or contribute, to the Humboldt Broncos Tribute Centre & Memorial, kindly visit the project’s website at: broncostributecampaign.com.

We play for them.

#HumboldtStrong – #Broncostribute

MJHL Podcast Feature | Brandt Young

MJHL Podcast Episode 32, featuring Winnipeg ICE defenseman, Brandt Young.

Brandt joins the podcast to discuss playing in the MJHL for the Freeze, his jump to the WHL, time inside the Regina Hub and much more.

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

Six MJHL Alumni featured in NCAA Tournament

The 2021 NCAA Div. I Men’s Ice Hockey Championships get underway on Friday, March 26 with six Manitoba Junior Hockey League Alumni taking part.

The championship playoff format involves four predetermined regional sites with four teams assigned to each site. The regional winners advance to the Men’s Frozen Four. The entire championship uses a single-elimination format.

Click here to see the full tournament schedule.

Tyler Kirkup – Bemidji State University
Virden Oil Capitals 2015-2018
MJHL accolades include leading the league in goal scoring (40) in 2017-19 and being named to the Second All-Star Team.

Jackson Keane – University of North Dakota
Winnipeg Blues 2013-2015
MJHL accolades include the MJHL All-Rookie Team, MJHL Second All-Star Team and winning the Turnbull Cup Championship in 2014.

Riese Gaber – University of North Dakota
Dauphin Kings/Steinbach Pistons 2016-2018
MJHL accolades include the MJHL All-Rookie Team, winning the Turnbull Cup & ANAVET Cup Championships and winning gold with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.

Darby Gula – Bemidji State University
Steinbach Pistons 2015-2018
MJHL accolades include the MJHL All-Rookie Team, MJHL First All-Star Team, Turnbull Cup & ANAVET Cup Championships and earning the MJHL’s Top Defenseman in 2017-18.

Tyler Jubenvill – Bemidji State University
Winkler Flyers 2015-2017
Tyler’s MJHL accolades include being named to the MJHL All-Rookie Team and MJHL Second All-Star Team.

Tyler Anderson – St. Cloud State University 
Steinbach Pistons 2015-2018
MJHL accolades include the MJHL’s Second All-Star Team and leading the MJHL in scoring amongst Defenseman.

The MJHL would like to wish our alumni the best of luck as they prepare for the tournament.

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Chelsea Leskiw

Story by Dave Anthony

Chelsea Leskiw – Off-Ice Official, formerly with the Selkirk Steelers and Winnipeg Blues, currently works MJHL Showcase and with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose

The term “for love of the game” gets thrown around a lot but for Chelsea Leskiw, it’s not a saying, it’s a way of hockey life. “I really love the game” she explains. “I love that I get to see it from a different perspective. I get to do the admin for hockey all while watching the game and watching it grow through the community. I like being involved with it off the ice and see it all come together.”

Chelsea breaks down what it means to be an off-ice official and there’s a lot that fans maybe don’t know. “We are basically the timekeeper but for people who think all we do is hit start and stop on the clock, they’re wrong, there’s a lot more to it. We have to be at the rink an hour and a half before the game to start the paperwork for the game sheet, we get the lineup cards from the home and away coaches and then we transfer all that info, we write it into the game sheet. Then we take it all and put it onto the website. Then we get the coach’s signatures and the starters, while that’s all going on, we have to be ready for warmup. We would run the Stats website, so all the starts and stops go onto the website, we’d play the music and the ads, plus the penalty’s, the shots on goal, the time outs… all that little stuff that people think is super simple, but a lot goes into it that people don’t see. The less they know we’re there, the better job we’re doing.”

While working with the Blues, it wasn’t just admin work for Chelsea. “I also did the music, so on top of all the admin duties, I had to do the clock and music at the same time.”

Being an off-ice official started pretty early for Chelsea. “I started timekeeping when I was 12 or 13,” she recalls. “I was in Selkirk and I was just doing it to make extra money. I became pretty good, and more people gave me opportunities to do more games at the AA or AAA level. Eventually, I started with the Steelers, just helping out or filling in, but when I took over full time, it was in 2013 and worked with them until 2016/17. After Selkirk, I spent two seasons with the Blues, then I started doing the Showcases. I started when I was young, became pretty good at it, plus I have nice writing, so people just kept giving me opportunities. I was eager to learn and take on more. It just became my life, doing timekeeping in the winter and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Looking back at her start with the Steelers, Chelsea admits it was a little overwhelming at times. “They were pretty stressful at the start”, she says with a laugh. “You don’t really know what to expect when you’re coming from minor hockey, you get used to just stopping and starting the clock and filling out the game sheets. Once you incorporate online stats and music and announcing and shots on goal… you realize it’s busy and you have to be on high alert at all times. Luckily, I picked it up pretty quickly but there are some people who sub for me who tell me they just can’t keep up.”

After spending some time in the MJHL, Chelsea explains how she got on with the Manitoba Moose. “I filled out this thing called the ‘Hockey Resume’, it highlights all the hockey experience you have and the past you have. When the Moose came back, I threw my hat into the ring and I was one of the lucky ones to get hired on. Currently, I do the clock and penalty sheets, which is what I would do at MJ games. For the next series, the Moose are back, I’ll be doing the online stats. It’s exactly what the MJHL uses so it’ll be a smooth transition for me. I’m very fortunate to have the time in the MJHL that helped me be ready for the AHL and help me to succeed.”

Being one of only a handful of people in the big rink during a game is pretty weird, according to Chelsea. “It’s super creepy, it’s so quiet,” she says with a chuckle. “I don’t like it. It’s a whole different game, you hear what’s going on in the benches and on the ice. They pump in the fake crowd noise which isn’t my favorite, but it does help the noise level because you can just hear everyone way too clear.”

Her first adventures on the ice didn’t start with the game of hockey, that took a little time. “I used to figure skate and I played ringette. I switched to hockey because ringette was kind of dying out when I was growing up. When I started hockey, it was a whole new perspective for me. I played minor hockey then high school. I started timekeeping in the high school leagues and that’s where my love of timekeeping really took off.”

Being from Selkirk, Chelsea says early on in her timekeeping career, her family did come to watch, perhaps at times begrudgingly. “They did not find it entertaining” she lets out a big laugh. “I’d say, ‘come watch me time keep’ and they’d just say ‘oh, that’s so boring'” Chelsea continues to laugh. “My brother is a ref and he works Junior B and MM, so we got to actually work together quite a bit, which was really cool.”

Despite not being into watching her time keep, Chelsea says her family had her back right from the start. “They were totally on board with it. It kept me out of trouble. I had my own money so I could buy my own stuff, which was nice for them. I got to watch hockey and when I’d go home, I’d talk about it and they just weren’t that into it.”

Being from and working in Selkirk, Chelsea says it’s great to see so many more women at the rink across the province. “It’s really, really cool. It’s great to see it getting the hype it really deserves.” One of those people is Steeler’s trainer/athletic therapist, Alison Deneweth. “I actually grew up just two houses away from Alison, I got to babysit her kids. Having her at the rink as an ally was always super helpful. Just knowing I could talk to her and knowing there are more women working in the sport, it’s really great to see. Even the higher levels, their hiring more females, whether it’s reporters, officials or crew members.”

More leagues continue to welcome more women into different roles and for Chelsea, she says it’s about time. “It’s great they’re getting the opportunities they do deserve. Actually, interviewing us and getting to know what we bring to the game and what we bring to the table. Just knowing there are a lot of women out there who can make a difference but maybe haven’t got a shot yet. It’ll come.”

Being set up in the middle area between the penalty boxes has made for some interesting situations for Chelsea. “Luckily, there are pieces of glass there,” she jokes. “But there is an opening, and some do like to lean over, and they’d get a little too close to me and at first, I’d just sit there and take it thinking, ‘okay, it’s okay, they’ll just get it out of their system’.  As I got more confident in the game, I’d actually snap back, tell them to sit down and be quiet. The refs have my back too, if they see guys yelling, they’ll bang on the glass to quiet them down and check if I’m okay. It’s a really great relationship between the officials on the ice and off.”

Not only is she doing games herself but she’s also preparing the next wave of timekeepers in Manitoba. “I teach and instruct at the Hockey Winnipeg Timekeeping Clinics, so I get a chance to express my passion for the young timekeepers. I tell them, you’re not going to get rich doing it but if you’re really passionate and you’re good at it, you’ll earn opportunities. Keep learning new things. If you’re in minor hockey doing the game sheet, track shots on goal, ask to do music, just getting more comfortable with the game. I like to express that to kids, and they think it’s pretty cool that I get to do games for the Moose.”

It was brought up on a past feature, the three-stick infraction rule, that Chelsea makes sure all young timekeepers are aware of. “I drill that into their little minds,” she says laughing. “I even made a summary sheet for people coming to the clinic. The most important things you’ll need to know whether it’s maximum penalties, maximum stick penalties, or mercy rule. I’ve tried, instead of overwhelming them, I just give them a sheet and hope it helps. I use it even today. It all depends on what level you’re working at and in every league, I’ve worked, they’ve all had a completely different set of rules. (The) refs really love it when you know what you’re doing and help them out. You can make their life a whole lot easier. It means a lot to me that when refs see me at the rink, they trust that they’re in good hands.”

Getting back to regular events is something she’s also really looking forward to. “I love the MJHL Showcases, it’s one of my main events I look forward to every year. Getting to see all the talent and the scouts come out to watch an amazing week of hockey. I’m going to continue with the Manitoba Moose as well.”

Perhaps one day, even the NHL. “I’d love to do the Jets games. I think that door is open for me. Hopefully, one day I can start with them and see where it goes.”

MJHL Job Posting | Blizzard AT/Equipment Manager

Courtesy of OCN Blizzard

OCN Blizzard Jr. A Hockey Club are accepting applications for the position of Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager. This is a full time, seasonal position with a start date of August 15, 2021.
The successful applicant must have excellent communication and organization skills as well as be able to work both independently and in a team environment.

Responsibilities/Duties for this position include, but are not limited to the following:
• Assist in the prevention, assessment and treatment of injuries
• Responsible for giving players medical treatment they may need prior to, during or after practices/games
• Provide medical coverage at all practice sessions and games, both home and away
• Develop an Emergency Action Plan
• Provide injury evaluation, management, and rehabilitation
• Develop a return to play plan for injured players
• Coordinate treatment with physicians/medical personnel
• Provide an injury report/update to the coaching staff daily
• Maintain all medical records pertaining to treatment required
• Coordinate medical insurance claims
• Maintain team equipment: Sharpen skates, perform minor fixes, cleaning and laundry throughout the season
• Keep an up to date inventory of all equipment
• Order equipment as required
Desired Qualifications an asset but not a requirement:
• Graduation from an accredited Athletic Therapy University/College program
• Respect in Sport
• Hockey Canada Safety Program
• First Aid and CPR
• Certified Athletic Therapist (CATA or NATA)
• Criminal Record Check

Salary and Term will be based on experience.

Please send Resume & Cover Letter to keane5@mymts.net any questions can be directed to Billy Keane Coach/GM 204-250-5565

Closing date to apply is April 15, 2021

MJHL partners with InStat for upcoming events

The MJHL has partnered with InStat for the upcoming MJHL Prospect Development Camp and MJHL Draft Prospect Camp.

Through this event partnership with InStat, MJHL coaches and each participating athlete will receive detailed reports after each game, statistical breakdowns, and links to corresponding video clips for the purpose of development and exposure.

“We are extremely excited to partner with InStat for our upcoming Prospect Events in July. The ability for us to provide each participating athlete with direct video links to all of their plays / shifts throughout the event along with a full statistical post-game report after each game is something we could not pass up,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

The MJHL Prospect Development Camp and MJHL Draft Prospect Camp will be hosted simultaneously from July 14-18, 2021 at the Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg and will feature elite MJHL Prospects born in 2004, 2005 and 2006 from across the province of Manitoba.  Every event game will be available to be streamed live or on-demand through the MJHL’s partnership with HockeyTV.  Both camp divisions will provide MJHL Prospects with invaluable on and off-ice development / exposure opportunities while providing MJHL coaches and hockey partners such as the Western Hockey League (WHL), NCAA Division I Programs and Hockey Manitoba U16 Program of Excellence with further opportunities for player identification and evaluation within one convenient setting.

“InStat is proud to partner with the MJHL for the MJHL Prospect Development Camp and MJHL Draft Prospect Camp,” said InStat Director, Mark Yates. “We fully support the MJHL’s desire to provide players the opportunity to gain more exposure during these difficult times and jumped at the opportunity to help. Due to InStat’s work with organizations in the MJHL, WHL, NCAA and higher levels, we believe we can provide each prospect with the utmost exposure. We are thrilled for this opportunity.”

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

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

About InStat

InStat Sport, founded in 2007, in Moscow, Russia, is a leading provider of performance analysis services in football/soccer, basketball and ice hockey. Ice hockey clients of InStat include teams in the NHL, CHL, NCAA, USports, and many more of the professional, collegiate, junior and youth/minor hockey teams and leagues, worldwide. The company has offices throughout Europe and Asia, and recently opened its first North American office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November, 2019. For more information regarding InStat, visit the company on the web at www.instatsport.com, follow @InStatHockey on Twitter, or visit InStat Sport on YouTube to view instructional videos and the company’s webinar series for ice hockey, soccer (football) and basketball.

About HockeyTV

HockeyTV is the world’s biggest platform of live and on-demand elite hockey broadcasts. Since its first broadcast in 2006, HockeyTV has streamed games from elite leagues such as the AHL, USHL, CJHL and international games with USA Hockey and Hockey Canada – over 100,000 live games since its launch. HockeyTV has continued to expand its reach and improved its technology by bringing the world’s best hockey players and teams into the homes and mobile devices of hockey fans, coaches and scouts around the globe.

MJHL Job Posting | OCN Blizzard Sales & Marketing

Courtesy of OCN Blizzard

The OCN Blizzard are looking for a new Corporate Sales, Marketing and Game Day Operations Manager to join the team on a full-time basis immediately. The position requires an energetic, organized individual who’s passionate about junior hockey and the positive impact it can have on community.


The OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League are seeking a dynamic, energetic and motivated individual to join the Blizzard team in the full time role of Marketing, Corporate Sales and Game Day Operations staff.  Based in The Pas & OCN and reporting to Management, the Director of Marketing, Partnerships and Game Day Operations will be responsible for the development of all Blizzard strategic marketing, partnership and game day planning/execution efforts.

Manage overall partner/sponsor relationships including: strategic planning, revenue growth targets and all operations necessary to profitably retain, grow and service customers.

Lead creation of detailed year-end reports for assigned clients/supporters

Prepare various forms of scheduled client contact reports to provide client with necessary Blizzard information

Liaise with community to ensure sponsor activities/deliverables are being met

Take an active role in building and developing a positive relationship with all clients.

With assistance, manage and maintain ongoing updates and content creation for Blizzard website, social media strategy, marketing and branding initiatives.

Lead planning and execution of special events, Manage and lead Game Day Operations.

Collaborate with staff with creative ideas and methods to enhance overall Blizzard game day experience.

With assistance from staff, manage and create community involvement campaigns.

Any other related activities as directed by the General Manager.


Strong attention to detail with a professional hands on approach.

Exceptional organizational and time management skills

Demonstrated broad range of communication skills

Project management background and expertise considered an asset

Experience in partner management, partner servicing or marketing-related role considered an asset

Solid understanding in marketing programs, game day events and promotions

Demonstrated efficiency and strong knowledge in Power Point, Excel and Graphic design and video experience considered a strong asset
Qualified Candidates are invited to submit their resume with references and cover letter to keane5@mymts.net

Deadline to apply is April 15, 2021.

Note: only those persons selected for an interview will be contacted. Salary and Commission will be based on previous sales and marketing experience.

**A Satisfactory Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Person’s Check is required

MJHL Podcast feature | Wyatt Kalynuk

MJHL Podcast Episode 30, featuring Chicago Blackhawks defenseman, Wyatt Kalynuk.

Wyatt joins the podcast to discuss playing in the MJHL, his development in the USHL and NCAA, along with what it’s been like to play in the NHL during the pandemic.

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

RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador Team

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and RBC are proud to announce the 2020-21 RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador Team.

Comprised of one player from each MJHL team, Community Ambassadors are recognized for making a difference and giving back to their communities in which they play in. Each player has displayed outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship both on and off the ice and a commitment to volunteerism.

In the coming weeks, one RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador will be selected as the recipient of the RBC Community Award, which comes with a further donation in the player’s name to their local community from RBC.

Congratulations to the following players who have been nominated and selected to the 2020-21 RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador Team.

  • Dauphin Kings – Grady Hobbs
  • Neepawa Natives – Brady Morrison
  • OCN Blizzard – Ben Hilhorst
  • Portage Terriers – Peyton Gorski
  • Selkirk Steelers – Thomas Colter
  • Steinbach Pistons – Caden Triggs
  • Swan Valley Stampeders – Brenden Saether
  • Virden Oil Capitals – Colin Cook
  • Waywayseecappo Wolverines – Mack Belinski
  • Winkler Flyers – Dylan Meilun
  • Winnipeg Blues – Carson Tiede
  • Winnipeg Freeze – Brandt Young

During a typical season, each Community Ambassador is recognized during their team’s RBC Game Night, where they are honoured and  presented with a commemorative plaque. A donation is also made to each Ambassador’s local community on their behalf.

While each Community Ambassador team member will not be celebrated in person this season, it is important that each individual is recognized and celebrated for their commitment to making a difference off the ice. Throughout the coming weeks, each RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador will be highlighted online through the MJHL’s social media platforms and website.

“On or off the ice, MJHL players show us that where there is a will, there is a way. Even for volunteering,” said Terry Burgess, RBC Regional Vice President. “While the season was significantly impacted in so many ways, what was not impacted was the giving nature of the players and the lending of their time back to their communities. We are delighted to see the RBC | MJHL Community Ambassador program continue this season.”

On a yearly basis, MJHL athletes dedicate over 12,000 hours volunteering in their local communities. From reading to classrooms and pouring coffee at bingo to everything else in between, the MJHL takes pride in giving back to the province of Manitoba.

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Tori Nadeau

Tori Nadeau – Score Keeper, Portage Terriers

It’s been a special 20 year run for Tori as the scorekeeper for the Terriers and it all started pretty innocently. “I always had season tickets to the game, and I just loved hockey so much. I just thought it would be interesting to me. I knew the timekeeper and asked if I could sit with her and I just fell in love with it. I loved all the action back then, the fighting and even the bickering back and forth”

She may hold the record as the youngest scorekeeper in MJHL history. “When I was 11 years old, I started helping the previous timekeeper back in 1999” she recalls. “I became solo starting in the 2001 season when I was 13.”

Being the age she was, it took her mom a little time to get on board with the whole idea of Tori doing games. “I remember I’d tell her stories and she would ask ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ She knew I loved hockey so much. Eventually, she said okay, and I could see how it is. I just loved it and she must have seen it on my face. She was happy for me and when I took over at 13, she just said ‘okay. We knew I had the referees on my side and they were there for me if I needed help but there were only a couple situations over the past 20 years that I could see being a little scary, but it’s all good.”

Anyone who’s done timekeeping around the MJHL knows it’s not as easy as just pushing a button, there’s a lot you have to be aware of. “It took a little bit to get used to,” she explains. “The elapsed time takes a little to get used to. Now it’s all just second nature that 11:35 on the clock is 8:25 gone in a period. There was a pretty big hiccup in my first year or so, but I will never make that mistake again. It was a big one.”

That “big mistake” came at a pretty big event and at a critical time. “It was the Showcase Tournament, the first Showcase Tournament I was timekeeping,” she recalls. “I forgot about the 3-stick infraction rule. I realized after the guy came in for his fourth penalty that it was his fourth stick (penalty) and he was in on the winning goal. The goal ended up having to be taken away. It was a big mistake and I heard about it at that age and it kind of scarred me for life, so I’ll never make that mistake again.”

Despite making the mistake and feeling the wrath that came from it, the thought of not doing timekeeping simply never crossed her mind. “Not even a thought when it comes to leaving. It wasn’t to my home team, so I wasn’t too worried. I know they use it in timekeeper clinics. They don’t use my name, but they use that scenario in clinics to help teach. I just view it as ‘meh, little hiccup, not a big deal.”

Before the Terriers and Tori were moved into what’s now Stride Place, they all played in a smaller arena which for Tori, suited her better. “I was in the Centennial arena. The penalty box was… like the home, visitors, and where I sat was the size of now just the home penalty box. I’ve upgraded but I don’t like it as much. I like the smaller space. I like getting in there, listening to the action of them bickering back and forth. Now I have three doors I could close between me and the players, but I just like being around the action, I guess.”

It’s not just the chatter but it’s the sounds of the game, the skating, the puck movement, the hits along the boards that Tori has grown to appreciate. “I didn’t really look at that until I was older. It was just hockey to me. Now, it’s more physical along the boards so there’s more action in front of me. When I started, it was about who’s going to fight who but can’t really have that now because you’ll get tossed out. It’s more stick and body against the boards now and it’s a lot more physical in that way.”

Being around a team that’s won a lot over the past 20 years, she really has felt it when the team’s had success. “It’s been really amazing. I don’t know if they consider me part of the organization, but I say to be part of this organization is a huge pleasure. I consider myself part of the Portage Terrier organization. I’ve grown up with a lot of these guys. When I first started, they were my friends and now they’re like my little brothers. It’s odd to think, when I first started, I was about 10 years younger than the oldest player and now, a lot older than the oldest players (Tori starts laughing). They’re like my little brothers for sure.”

While not being born in Portage, she says it’s her hometown and to see the community support has meant so much over the last two decades. “Our community support in Portage is phenomenal. It was a little bit more in the old barn, just because it was maybe less expensive then, but our support is amazing. There are so many people who have been here as long as I have or even longer and they keep coming to support, it’s special.”

Anyone around Portage and the MJHL would know long-time trainer and equipment manager Geno Romanow and like so many, Tori was deeply saddened when Geno passed away. “I grew up for the last 20 years around the team and he was my rink, Grandpa. The loss of him was huge for me. I was dreading coming back this season, just those first few games of getting used to not seeing him.”

Because of COVID-19, the Terriers and the league didn’t get to celebrate Geno the way many hoped but Tori isn’t worried about that “Oh, we will. We will,” she chuckles. “He would never think anyone would want to celebrate him, but he was a huge part of the organization and a huge part of my life growing up and he’s extremely missed at the rink. Hopefully, someday we can honor him and his family.”

Another memorable moment for Tori was the night Braden Pettinger returned to drop the ceremonial faceoff before a Terrier’s playoff game after an on-ice injury left him paralyzed. “He only got to play one home game with us before the incident happened” she remembers. “Just getting to see him… I know his family from Portage, just seeing them and then when he came out onto the ice was just so…” Tori takes a moment before continuing “It was just so amazing for our organization to do something like that for a player that wasn’t here long. Once a Terrier, always a Terrier.”

If she had to pick one moment though above all others, it was when Portage won the big one. “Winning the RBC Cup. I waited so long for that day” she says, her voice clearly excited at recalling that event. “I was extremely pregnant at the time, but I still showed up.”

She only missed two games during the RBC Cup Tournament, but she made sure she was there for that final game. “It was hard to breathe and not just because I was super pregnant,” she says jokingly. “It was also extremely special because my cousin Zack Waldvogel was on that team. My daughter was just his biggest fan, and she was at the game watching him. It was just amazing.”

You would think her team winning the RBC Cup at home while pregnant would be the wildest story, but Tori has a topper. “I was at the home opener in 2014 and it was the day after my wedding. I had to be there. I couldn’t miss it.” When asked how her brand-new husband felt, Tori just laughed and said, “he was right there beside me. We met in the penalty box. It was the World U17 Tournament. He’s from Quebec and he was an official there. I always thought I might marry a hockey player, but I never thought I’d marry a ref. We have two young children, and they like to time keep with me now.”

While the kids haven’t done Portage Terrier games just yet, Tori is hopeful that maybe one day they can carry on the legacy. “I do hope so. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick around that long to do games with them. My daughter is 7 years old, so if she wants to follow my steps, it’s only five more years.”

“It sure was a hard pill to swallow,” Tori says when asked about her feelings on the season being canceled. “Hockey is my winter life. My kids play hockey and seeing the impact of them not playing, let alone not getting to go watch hockey, was really hard on them. I did get more family time and that’s a real positive. Not having hockey though was really hard and last year when it got canceled when we were supposed to be hosting again was really hard. I’m hoping we can get it back while I’m still here.”

Although she mentioned a possible end down the road, don’t expect Tori to give up her space in the timekeeper’s box just yet. “I hope to go as long as I can. It of course depends on my children, but I do hope to stick around. I’d like to pass it on to one of my girls, even if it means me going with them for a little bit. I’m here for the long run, I don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon. Portage will be my home for the next twenty or thirty years. I’ll be a grandma by then. Whatever, I’m here and I will make it work.”

She figures over the years, she’s missed less than 10 Portage Terrier games, and she credits her partner in the box with making it such an enjoyable time. “I have to give kudos to Al Wall, he’s so amazing. He’s been with me since we came to Stride Place. He sure hasn’t missed many games either. He’s the best.”

Like all of us, Tori is hoping we can get back to rinks across the province come fall. “When it gets to that time, there’s nothing I want more than putting on my Terrier jacket, walking into that rink and having Portage Terrier hockey being played again.”

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Dana Warrener

Story by Dave Anthony

Dana Warrener – Athletic Therapist, Virden Oil Capitals.

Dana Warrener is the perfect example when it comes to someone doing whatever it takes to do something they love and be a success.

The Eddystone, Manitoba product went to school in Ste Rose du Lac and says getting into athletic therapy took quite a bit of work. “There weren’t really many options. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, really. Throughout school, I loved to participate in or watch sports. Because it was a small town, I played every sport. I wasn’t the biggest fan of track and I wasn’t that great, so I kind of stayed away from that one. But I love sports. I took a lifeguarding course and fell in love with the first aid aspect. I wanted to interwind the massage and sports and first aid, that’s how I came up with athletic therapy. I just love every aspect. I just set my mind and went for it.”

That’s an understatement. Dana laid it all out on the line to end up with the Oil Caps, as she explains how she found the job and the sacrifices she made to pursue her dream. “I saw a posting within one of my organizations and I applied. I sent in an email, but I didn’t expect to even be considered. I had just quit my job at Smitty’s and then I randomly got a phone call asking if I’d come down for an interview in Virden and that they’d meet me halfway, but it happened that I was going to be there for the rodeo that weekend. So, I interviewed, and it turned out very well. Within a week, I had uprooted my whole life. It was quite crazy. I found a place, sight unseen, moved in late at night… it was a crazy time.”

Before working with the Oil Caps, Dana did do some work with other teams but in 2019 she was running her own show in Virden. She says at times, it was a bit intimidating. “I wasn’t a full-on athletic therapist yet, I was more of a sports medic. It was my first solo position, and it was a little scary. I think I was a little worried if I would be able to do it but my brother Drake kept saying to me ‘you’ve been doing it, you can do it, you’ve been doing it all through school, so you can do it’. I’ve handled some scary injuries before so what would be any different? It was a little scary at first but once I got into a groove, I relaxed a little bit, I trusted in my instincts and my education and I was able to carry it out.”

She had Drake’s support and when it came to getting advice from her parents, Dana says they didn’t really have much of a say. “I called them, I did have another potential job on the table, and I didn’t know what I should do if it was moving to Virden or staying in Winnipeg. I called them for their advice, and they told me, ‘well, from what you’re saying, it sounds like your mind is made up so I don’t really know why you’re calling’.” Dana laughs and adds, “so I made the choice and moved to Virden. They’ve always been so supportive. My brother played hockey, and no one thought that I’d end up the one in the hockey world but here we are. It’s worked out very well. I love the job and I love the team.”

“To be honest, it was always a love/hate relationship with hockey” Dana explains with a chuckle. “We always traveled for my brother and not always did I want to go to a hockey game. I was kind of forced to tag along. I never thought I’d end up with a career in hockey, but I do love the game. I’m still learning but I enjoy watching from the bench and keeping an eye on the players. It’s interesting where my life has taken me.”

The game routine has also come as Dana has gotten more comfortable on the bench. “I listen to the pre-game music just like the guys and just get into my groove. Sometimes I may dance or tap my toe but just like the guys, I have to get into a game mode. I push everything out, stay relaxed and calm, then just carry out the job.”

Getting the hands-on experience of working with injuries day in and day out is where Dana says she really found her stride. “It was great. I loved the opportunity of being able to see and recognize an injury. At first, I couldn’t treat anything, but I was able to do the basic first aid. I could sling an injury or splint it or dress a wound. Doing that was amazing for learning because I learn best by doing. It was an unbelievable thing that the Virden Oil Capitals took me on before I had my certification.”

It didn’t take long for the team to really warm up to Dana but at first, it took some getting used to. “They welcomed me with open arms. I remember at first, they were a little standoffish but that first day when all the guys got there, I stood outside the dressing room trying to catch everyone’s name but honestly, all the names went in one ear and out the other. I forgot everyone in like two seconds. I’m really bad with names. But they were so helpful. The returning guys would tell me I didn’t have to do certain things that the rookies would take care of it and I would say ‘I don’t even know who the rookies are. I’m right here, I’ll do it.’

There are two moments that really stand out for her when she really felt a part of the Oil Capitals. “There was a guy that had a helmet issue and he needed it really quick, I was able to fix it even though I had no idea how to fix the strap or put a new one in, but I managed to do it in the time he needed to get back out on the ice, and they looked back and said, ‘good job’. Another time, during camp, I had to do an ice-run and one guy cheered ‘go, Dana, your first ice walk!’ All I thought was ‘not a good time, let’s not cheer right now. They were all so welcoming, it’s been so nice. One of the best teams I’ve been a part of.”

Although she didn’t get a lot of time in year 2 of her tenure with Virden because of COVID-19, she says that it was a noticeable difference between year one and two. “I think there was a lot more trust and understanding between myself and the coach. Not that there wasn’t before but with this camp, I was on top of medical things, and he trusted I would get it done. I trusted him that he’d get the paperwork done and help me out with getting it all organized. I took on more roles without even asking and they loved it… I assume. Before I would ask them questions about how people before me did it or how they’d like it but this year, I took the bull by the horns and just ran with it, did what needed to be done.”

Another big step came with the confidence of dealing with the players. “With the guys, it was very easy. All the guys were happy I was back and of course, they were trying to get free stuff from me right away. I had to be the bad guy and say we didn’t have any till later and they would argue ‘what if I break my one stick that I brought?’ I’d have to say, well I don’t know I can’t help you.” (Dana chuckles throughout sharing the story) “They always try and get free stuff. I shut it down a little bit. They like to see how far they can push things, but you draw the line right away, then they know. We forget their kids, right? I think ‘why are you acting so silly?’ Then I remember, ‘Oh that’s right, you’re 16 (years-old) but you are 6″tall’ (more laughter follows).”

Being a role model for both young girls and boys is something Dana is quite humbled by. “I like that I’m someone that people can look up to. Male or female. I enjoy seeing that 7th skater and when it’s a little girl out there skating around or interacting with the guys, it’s amazing. Some are shy but some are billet sisters, so they were comfortable. Some would joke around just like the boys would and it’s nice to see young girls comfortable in a male-dominated area. I don’t think anyone should be scared of a male or female dominant area, if that’s the job you want to do, then go for it.”

The part of her story to this point that makes Dana the proudest of herself was having the guts to give up everything she knew in hopes of getting what she wanted. “I think picking up and moving to Virden out of almost know where that’s what I’m most proud of. I was scared, I didn’t know anybody and none of my family didn’t know anyone out here, so I was starting a whole new chapter on my own. It was really nice to see I can do it so wherever my life ends up, I know I can do it. I was really proud of myself for changing my life up to get what I’ve wanted.”

Her parents have managed to catch a number of games both in Virden and in Dauphin. “My mom likes the games, but there’s a little too much fighting for her, sometimes”, Dana describes. “She would ask if I was busy and I’d say, ‘yup, just a little bit. I gotta help so and so, organize this, and I might be able to catch you for five minutes after a game. They’re really proud of me, I know that.”

Throughout the shutdown, Dana has kept busy and will be doing some seasonal work because, as she says, “I told them that once hockey season comes back, I’ll be working for the Virden Oil Capitals.” She’s hoping it starts up on time in the fall. “It would be great to have a full season. Now that I’m certified, I can offer more to the athletes. Give them more treatment and care. I’m just excited there’s another season and I can get my name out there more and maybe I can start a clinic inside the rink, there’s a little spot in the rink I could rent but for right now, we’re just seeing where things go.”

Wherever things go from here, Dana is ready for whatever comes her way. “Life always changes so I can’t for sure say what I’m going to do down the road. I’d like to dabble being an athletic therapist in the Olympics. I do like hockey, I love where I am right now, but I’d be open to different sports at different levels. The important thing for me is I like it where I am right now. I’m happy.”

MJHL Podcast Feature | Darren Dreger

MJHL Podcast Episode 30, featuring TSN Hockey Insider, Darren Dreger

Darren joins the podcast to chat about growing up on the prairies, his life covering the game of hockey and much more including a story about the OCN Blizzard.

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

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Kaylah Turner (Krieger)

Story by Dave Anthony

Kaylah Turner (Krieger) – MJHL Linesperson

Growing up in Melville, Saskatchewan, Kaylah says she didn’t take to hockey right away but eventually found her way into the game. “At first, I was actually a speed skater. I think I did that for about 12 years or something. I think I started playing hockey when I was 15 and just through graduation, it was just a couple years. It wasn’t good hockey, it was really just to play.”

It was while playing Kaylah decided to try her hand in officiating. “I was 16 when I stated reffing. I needed some extra cash, and it was also a good way to be on the ice, so I figured ‘why not?’.”

When she started reffing, she says it was mostly the boys because, “there were only two girls’ teams so I was usually pretty much always playing in one of the girl’s games” she says laughing. “So, it was mostly boys, but it wouldn’t have mattered, it was whatever was available.”

Kaylah laughed when she was thinking about to how the boys would have responded to a female official, mainly because as she puts it, “in the younger years, I don’t think they even realized” she chuckles. “As I worked my way up in the league, they noticed it was different, that it was a girl out there. But really, after the first few puck drops it didn’t matter, the game was on. It didn’t matter who was out there, it was all about the game.”

At the very beginning of the conversation, Kaylah was asked if she preferred linesperson or linesmen and to her, it makes no difference, though she did say linesperson when first asked. “You know, I’m surprised I said that to be totally honest” she said laughing. “I never call it a linesperson, it’s always linesman. The terminology has never bothered me. I tend to air more on the original side, just because I don’t really want to draw attention to it. It’s just a term for what I’m doing. There’s no bones about it, I’m in a male dominated world. It is what is it. I’m not there to stand out, I’m there to do a job. It’s based on talent and knowledge, being a man or women doesn’t matter, it’s doing the job and earning your way.”

When it comes to finding a role-model in the officiating world, Kaylah didn’t have to look very far. “My brother Karlin was an official. I would say he’s the reason I started. He was starting to work his way up already, getting some cool games and some tournaments and he had a lot more spending money than I did and that wasn’t fair, so I had to go out and get some of my own.”

Following in her brother’s footsteps was met by great support from her parents. “They were so proud, very supportive and I wouldn’t ever say it was really a big deal. Sure, I was moving up in the league and yes, there was more of the male side of it, but it was the natural progression. There wasn’t really a lot of female hockey in our area. I’d have to go travel to find it. It really was just normal. It wasn’t a big deal, and it didn’t stand out in any way.”

Like all officials, it can be a grind to get up in the leagues. “I started with the novice and the atom games” she recalls. “I started to do more AA or even AAA. I moved my way up through the girl’s leagues to do the University games… then it’s the guys U17 AAA. You have to work for your opportunities. You have to show up and put the work in, even when it’s not convenient. I just worked my way up through the leagues, there’s no other ways around it.”

Officials, like players and coaches will always remember their first game in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and for Kaylah, it was an unexpected yet wonderful turn of events that got her onto the ice for that first game.

“One game, they were short an official” Kaylah explains, her smile evident through the phone. “My brother happened to be doing the game and they said ‘hey, does your sister happen to have her bag and do you think she can she do it?’  That was how I got my first game. The next month, I had like six games. It was chance but obviously I was prepared. That’s how I got in the league.”

Standing on the redline in her first MJHL game, she admits to having some butterflies. “Oh gosh yes, I was so nervous” she says, again followed by a laugh. “But it always seemed that after that first puck drop, it becomes just a game. It doesn’t matter what league you’re in. The call is the call. The game is the game. You find you’re flow and you’re fine.”

Her brother was standing beside her for that first game, and it made it even more special for Kaylah. “My favorite memories have always been reffing with him. Being able to ref that first MJ game together, it was a really, really cool experience. It was just great to get to do that together.”

Being in the position she is in gives her a chance to inspire young girls and it’s something Kalyah really takes to heart. “For younger girls, I just want to encourage them to do anything they want to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only girl or not, if it’s your passion and you want to do it… and you’re willing to work hard enough to be there, absolutely go for it.”

There’s belief that women in the game continues to trend in a positive direction and Kaylah agrees. “I totally believe it’s only getting better. I have no complaints at all. I’ve had nothing but support through my whole experience. I think there are lots of other girls who have the potential to be there, and I hope they get the chances that I did. I hope it continues to grow.”

During breaks in play, she says there is a little time to interact with other women in the league that are now seen on many teams’ benches in different roles. “I’m not sure I’ve ever had the whole eye contact and the nod thing, but it’s so nice to have other women around. It brings a different prospective to the game, a different outlook. It puts the guys in check every once in a while. We show we know what we’re doing and how we can bring another spin to this.”

Leagues across the country are always looking for officials and coming off of COVID-19, Kaylah sees this as a real chance to get more young women into the sport. “I think there is always an opportunity for female officials. There’s so many tournaments and traveling, if you have any interest at all, you have a really, really good chance to do some amazing things.”

Kaylah hasn’t been at the rink as much as she’s accustomed too, but that hasn’t stopped her from working on her craft. “There’s actually been quite a push for the off-ice side of officiating. There’s been group calls and keeping everyone engaged which has been really cool. Other than that, I own a seasonal business where I’m typically off for the winter, so without reffing, it’s been different.”

It’s been a great journey and she’s hoping it will continue in the future. “I’m definitely proud of how far I’ve gotten. I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve had some great experiences that I’ll remember forever. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If I get an opportunity to move up, I’d be interested, sure. For now, I’m hoping to be able to help the next generation and if anyone wanted to reach out for advice on how to get where they want to go, I’d be more than willing to help them out.”

Thinking about getting back to work in the fall, Kaylah adds with that trademark laugh, “it would be awesome, that’s for sure.”

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Lana DeBeer

Story by Dave Anthony

Lana DeBeer – Athletic Therapist, Winnipeg Blues

Lana started with the Blues organization in 2001 but before the Blues, she started in hockey a bit before her run with her hometown team. “When I was an athletic therapy student, there was a group of three of us and we all wanted hockey experience, so we all worked together for this one team for one season. It really wasn’t much of anything.”

Finding the gig with the Blues was a little luck mixed in with a great reputation. “I kind of stumbled into the job with Winnipeg” she says with a laugh. “I was in my last year for athletic therapy and knew I needed more hours. They actually contacted me. I still don’t know where they got my name from, but I met with the GM and President at the time, and he sort of talked to me about this opportunity. I knew Doug Stokes who was the head coach of the time, I knew him from outside the world of hockey, so it all kind of fit together.”

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League as a whole was a new world for Lana, “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into” she explained. But once she was in the league, it just felt right. “I thought I might be there for a year or so while collecting hours and I just kind of never left. It’s been a terrific run here with the Blues”

Her family didn’t see any issues with Lana venturing into the mainly male dominated world of hockey. “They weren’t concerned at all. I was a little older at the time when I did my athletic therapy degree. It was my second degree, so I was further along in my academic life. They didn’t have any concern about it and they were very supportive.”

In a story told on MJHLhockey.ca earlier in the week, Alison Deneweth told a story about how she was hired with the Steelers and while it wasn’t as blunt as it was for Allison, Lana shared a somewhat similar tale. “I do sort of recall, in the beginning, I remember hearing something about somebody saying they had hoped they had found a male. It wasn’t a situation of ‘oh, you’ll do’ but it was ‘this was our preference, but we’ll take you’.

Walking into the Blues organization was pretty easy. “They had had female trainers before,” she explained. “So, I don’t know if the female part of it was too shocking. I will say, I was pretty green when it came to the world of hockey. I didn’t know players could be traded around or what it meant to hold guys rights or things like that. I had to really learn the hockey side of it, the coaching and business side of it.”

While the game of hockey has changed over the past number of years, Lana believes that the position of athletic therapist has largely stayed the same. “I think the expectation… there’s a certain level of competency and a level of responsibility all the way through. You will hone your skills as time goes on.”

Seeing Allison already in the position she was in was pretty important for Lana. “Allison and I are very good friends now because we’ve been doing it for so long. We quite often will go to each other to bounce ideas off each other or moral support. Whatever a situation may call for.”

The Winnipeg Blues organization has changed quite a bit since Lana came on board in the early 2000’s. “Yeah, it’s been pretty interesting” she details. “When I started, we were playing out of Century Arena and there was a promise of another rink coming but that eventually fizzled out, I’m not sure what happened there. Eventually, we moved to the Ice Plex and all of a sudden, we had a dressing room where the players didn’t have to take their gear with them. I had a medical room, it was fantastic. Then things changed again when ownership changed, the dynamic changed. When the new ownership came through, they said to me ‘you’ve been here a long time, do you want to keep going? Do you feel like you’ve run your course? What do you want to do?’ I said I’d like to come back but maybe a little bit of a lesser role. I was a little bit worried how it would impact my relationship with the players and coaches, but I don’t think it’s changed too much.”

A student brought on to assist with the Blues a few years back and now she is with the Portage Terriers, Lydia Pongoski. Lydia had this to say when asked about the role Lana has played in her career. ‘“Lana, 100% is my role-model” she says emphatically. “I’ve taken her to be my mentor. I love her dearly. It’s so amazing to see her and know she’s been in the hockey world for so long, it’s like, I can do it. If Lana can do it, I can do it. It was for sure her that kept pushing me into that world.” When she was told what Lydia had to say, Lana responded “it’s very humbling. It’s fantastic to know you can have an impact on somebody because when you’re in the moment, you don’t really know how you’re impacting somebody.”

For Lana, there’s a lot of pride that comes with being one of the first women in the MJHL and says having more women in the game can be beneficial on several levels. “I feel like in some ways, it brings a little different element. Our team chaplain has a joke that I’m the team mom and maybe in some way’s I am. I’ve talked to players over the years and there’s never been an issue of having a woman around the team. It’s maybe even been refreshing for some of them.”

Not only has she impacted people like Lydia or Kate Wiens in Swan Valley, but also many young girls who Lana may never meet but will use her as an inspiration to follow their dreams. “I think it’s pretty cool to think you have that kind of role for someone. I have a step-daughter who is 17 and while I don’t think she’ll be in the athletic therapy world, it does show her that you can break some barriers and there can be obstacles but you can fight through them.”

Coaching is an area where Lana believes there will be a greater female influence down the line. “You know, if that’s what they want to do, I don’t see why they can’t” she says with a chuckle.

A pair of championship runs with the Blues are the highlights so far of a wonderful career. “The most recent one, I think we were the underdogs” she explains.  “No one really expected it, so it was pretty special. We had such a great staff and a group of incredible players.

It’s not just a pair of MJHL championship rings, she adds “I also got an RBC Cup ring when I was helping Portage when they hosted.”

During the time off, she’s has discovered something. “I have found that I’ve been very bored, actually” she says with a laugh. “You don’t realize how much time it takes up to be at the rink and involved with the team. I just try and keep busy working and such.”

As for coming back in the fall, Lana is hopeful if not cautious. “Because I work in health care, I’m a bit more nervous about the potential of the impact of the coronavirus, even for the upcoming season. But, if we can get everything set in place, I think it’ll be fantastic to get back into it.”

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Alison Deneweth

Story by Dave Anthony

Alison Deneweth – Trainer/Athletic Therapist, Selkirk Steelers

Alison is one of the most interesting people in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and her story starts all the way back in 1987 with a franchise that is no longer around. “I started with the Kildonan North Stars,” Alison says with a laugh. “I was there for two years.”

Being one of the first women to be in the hockey world in that role, Alison says she did stand out a bit “I was an anomaly. Heads would turn when I came in.”

It wasn’t long before the Steelers came calling and Alison made the move over to Selkirk, who were looking for someone with more of a medical background. When it came to being received by the players, Alison says it was a positive reception. “The players, I have to say, were always very good. They may have been a little cautious at first because it was so new, but once they got to see that I was there to help with no ulterior motive, they warmed up. They really appreciated having someone there to help.”

Not everyone in the game at that time was as welcoming as the Steelers or their players. “Some officials or staff on the other team were maybe not so welcoming… I got some stories I won’t share… but over time, people get to see you in the position longer and they become more accepting as you show them what you can do.”

The field of athletic therapy wasn’t how it is today, according to Alison. “At that time, there wasn’t the marriage there is between the educational institutes and the placement to teams. I had graduated from the University of Alberta, I had my degree and then I needed to start the collection of hours and at that time, you needed 600 hours in a collision sport. I had done some football already and I was just looking to collect hours and in hockey, there’s a lot available. It wasn’t easy to get in but that’s what I was looking to do, just collect my hours and get my certification.”

Getting the job with the North Stars was a wild process, as Alison explains. “The North Stars at that time had taken a hiatus, they were out of the league for a little while and with a new owner, he was looking to get back in and he was forward-thinking, and he was looking for interesting things that might capture the imagination. Two of us interviewed for the job and John (last name unknown) actually got the job but right before the season started, John got an opportunity to go up north and do paramedicine and so he took that. I’ll never forget, I got a call from the owner at the time, and he said ‘well, you’re not our first pick, but if you’d like the job, you can have it’ and I said to him, you won’t regret it. I got my first job knowing that I wasn’t anybody’s first pick but it was an opportunity, and I made the best of it. I started off in a position because I needed the hours and I stayed on because the money wasn’t too bad and I seemed to run out of reasons to keep coming back, so I can honestly say, there’s no ulterior motive, I’m here now because I just enjoy it so much.”

Filled with amazing stories, Alison recalls what it was like in the early days with the Steelers. “When I started, the Steelers were just building the new arena then and it was going to be so much different than what anyone else had in the league and they’d have all this space and all these plans… but like any good build, it takes longer than you think. So, the first 18 months I spent over in the old barn, which is an amazing piece of history. Trainers in the late ’80’s had rooms the size of broom closets. I actually shared a spot with management, who liked to go down and have chats with coaches between periods and there were sometimes heated debates. I had a little wooden medicine cabinet that was maybe 8 inches across and a foot tall and everything I needed had to be in there. I had a little chair and a medicine cabinet, and I had to juggle players around as the coaches argued about who should be on a line. In the early years, there was lots of laundry and we repaired everything like those old wool socks. We’d take them on the bus with a needle and I’d spend the bus ride working on socks. There were about 5 years I did both the equipment and the medical. It’s a tall order to do both so I wasn’t sad when someone else took it.”

Alison’s road through hockey might have been very different if not for what happened in 1986, a year before she was hired by the North Stars. “I got married that year. I remember I had my University degree, my parents lived in Alberta and I made the decision to move to Manitoba. This was the hub of athletic therapy at the time. So, I think part of the reason I was safe enough to get a job where maybe others wouldn’t have, was because I was married. I don’t know if a single woman at that time would have had that opportunity. I think the powers to be, saw that I was married and that somehow made it more acceptable or safer to be in that position.”

Both Alison and her husband were coaches “and you can’t have two of those in a house and make a go of it” Alison says with a laugh. “He was so supportive of me doing whatever it took to get the certification.”

Having always enjoyed hockey, Alison wanted to get into the game somehow. “As a kid, I had always wanted to play hockey but again, where I was, the area I was in, there was no girls team, no opportunity to play. So, my mom put me in figure skating which lasted just two years. The costumes… yeah, they were just not for me. I had always liked hockey. I enjoyed the culture; it’s been a great fit.”

In the hockey world, there’s been a noticeable shift when it comes to the involvement of women and Alison says there is still much more room to grow. “There’s always room but for sure it’s just more acceptable now. If you look at the roster now, I think women are half of the training staff. There have been moments before and it’s not like women have not been represented. Years ago, there was a female linesman in the MJ and I believe her name was Laura and that was kind of fun. At that time, I think we were the only two women around so we both kind of rolled in at the same time, there was a wink and a nod from across the room. She was fantastic. Very, very good as a lineman. Great senses. As we go forward, there will be more women and the more people see women around, you have the chance to change hearts and minds. I think it’s a lot easier to be a woman in the MJHL now and I think there will be more growth in the coaching department or management and on the board. There’s been more acceptance from players over the years. I’ve always treated the players with respect, and they’ve given that respect right back.

As you can imagine, being around hockey for a while, Alison has had an impact on some young girls, and she recalls the first time she was told just how big of an impact she made. “The first time I had someone come up to me, it was quite a few years ago, a dad came up to me and he said he had a daughter who was interested in what I did and asked if she could watch what I did. I thought about it and said for sure. I didn’t have her in the room, but we went to the clinic where I was, and she helped with the medicals. She interacted with the players and did the paperwork, and she was just so excited, it was a gut-check for me. It made me realize how blessed and lucky to be able to do this. There are other girls and women who want to do what I have the opportunity to do. It was a reminder to conduct myself in a way to make it easier to come along behind. I stand on the shoulders of women who took jobs in World War 2 that men typically had, and women went out and got an education in a time people thought it would be wasted on a woman. I got to stand on those shoulders and get an education and do something that was a-typical and as long as I did a good job and represented well, there would be women behind me that will do even better things in better ways. It’s really humbling to be one who cracked the door a little bit and see girls and some girls we haven’t met yet, walk through that door.”

Seeing other women in roles across the MJHL brings a smile to Alison’s face and her voice lights up. “Always great to see other women, especially the first game of the year. We have a bond. There’s a handful of us out there and we’re going to keep moving forward.”

Alison hasn’t stopped learning and used the canceled hockey season to continue another level of education. “I got on and ran a machine at a place that does the packaging of medication for nursing homes so, I went and got trained in that and did it for about 6 weeks at the start of the pandemic and a couple of times during waves. I had so much time on my hands, I don’t know what I was thinking but I signed up for a master’s program out of UBC so I’m taking classes for a Master’s in leadership. I don’t do well with time on my hands, so I filled it up.”

Despite doing amazing things, Alison is looking forward to the return of hockey, hopefully in the fall even though it may be different for her from years past. “Having done it so long, the last couple years I’ve had some students usually out of UofW and they come alongside and I’m really enjoying the mentorship side. I may not do as much traveling but having the year of way has let me know I’m not quite ready to hang it up. So, in the fall, I’ll be ready to get back to work.”

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Lydia Pongoski

Story by Dave Anthony

Lydia Pongoski – Athletic Therapist, Portage Terriers

Born and raised in Portage, Lydia got her start in hockey with the Winnipeg Blues but her dream of working in sports started in a totally different sport. “When I was in school, we had to get so many practicum hours, so I actually was placed with the track and field team at University, but I wanted to get more experience in a contact sport. I actually met Lana Debeer(long time Blues trainer and athletic therapist) from a Pan-Am placement I was at and I asked her if I could job shadow and just follow along and she said ‘sure’. It all started from there and I’ve just stuck around.”

Lydia says her parents were very supportive when it came to working in hockey. “They thought it was pretty cool and exciting” Lydia says with a laugh. “My younger cousins have all been involved in contact sport. My parents love the idea of having me in the hockey industry and they’re still pretty excited.”

When Lydia started working with the Blues, she says they were very receptive and her being female wasn’t even close to an issue. “It was smooth sailing. I think that when I saw I was with Lana, they thought, ‘oh this girl, she must be okay’. They had no weirdness or anything like that, it was quite nice actually. It was a very welcoming team.”

Having Lana already there may have paved the way to the smooth addition of another female around the team. “I definitely think it did help” Lydia explained. “She’s been with the team a while, so they had that surrounding before, so it was nice.”

Getting into the game of hockey wasn’t a dream for Lydia, she says it kind of found her. “I fell into it” she says again with a laugh. “Growing up, I never did hockey, I was in gymnastics. My parents tell me I wanted to be in hockey when I was younger, but it just never happened. Going through school, I started liking the fast pace environment, how everything is so go-go-go and I just fell in love with the hockey world.”

Going to school in Portage, the Terriers and their continuous success caught the attention of Lydia, like it did most of the community. “I definitely, definitely heard it. I lived out of town so unfortunately I couldn’t get to many games, but I did hear a lot about the Terriers.”

After starting in hockey with the Blues, Lydia gained more responsibilities and says those grew after graduation. “I asked if I could stay with the team and Lana said yes and she would like that. From there, we shared the responsibilities. I was with them for three or four years, but in the last couple years, we were pretty much 50/50. It was so nice she allowed me to have that with her. It felt really good to know that she trusted me with those sorts of things.”

When the Blues ownership changed, Lydia made a change herself. “I actually work in Portage in a private clinic. When the Rink bought the Blues and they moved over, they were doing interview processing and said I could have the job if I wanted it, but I was looking for work closer to home. I just so happened the Terriers had an opening. I reached out and it was pretty smooth sailing for me there too. Things just seem to kind of fall into place for me.”

Doing the job with a partner in Winnipeg was fun but when Lydia moved to Portage, it all fell on her shoulders. “Oh, it was interesting” Lydia said after a brief pause. “Geno Romanow, (long time Trainer/Equipment Manager with Portage) was still with the team when I started. It was kind of hard to find out what he was doing and what I should be doing… it took a little while to find our groove. But once we found it, it was so good.”

Geno passed away in May of 2020 and Lydia talked about those tough days and the support she had around her. “I was so thankful to have the organization. Somehow, Geno found a way to be like a third grandpa to me. It was really hard when I heard that he passed. I was lucky that I could reach out to other therapists like Lana or Kate (Wiens from Swan Valley), just to talk with them about it. It was nice to have that support through them knowing how they knew Geno as well. Being from the community, to see people care so much, it just makes your heart feel so warm. He made a difference. Even though he probably didn’t want to make a big fuss about anything, he did make a difference in the community. He was so well loved by people and that’s what comes from being a part of a small community. It was nice.”

When it comes to people Lydia looks up to, it doesn’t take long for her to come up with the answer of who is her role-model. “Lana, 100% is my role-model” she says emphatically. “I’ve taken her to be my mentor. I love her dearly. It’s so amazing to see her and know she’s been in the hockey world for so long, it’s like, I can do it. If Lana can do it, I can do it. It was for sure her that kept pushing me into that world.”

Many women have already made an impact in the MJHL and Lydia believes there’s more coming. “I think it’s amazing and I think that it’s not just a world for the men. I think more women should be involved and could be involved. I think that down the road there should be more involvement. I’d like to see it have a bigger impact elsewhere, just to see that world grow through women.”

Girls in Portage and across the MJHL now see Lydia on the bench and look up to her the say she looked up to Lana Debeer and that’s something Lydia admits is hard to put into words. “I feel really good that someone can see a woman like myself or Kate or Lana or Allison (Deneweth from the Selkirk Steelers) are in the industry and they think that they can do that too. I feel very touched and very special. I think that any girl can do anything that they want. I just hope that they realize it and really pursue what they want to do.”

When asked what comes next for Lydia, she responded “oh gosh, that’s a hard question” followed by the classic laugh she has. “I would like to stay in the world of hockey. If there’s a chance to move up at some time, that’s great. I’m just trying to figure it all out myself. If I could move up in the world of hockey, that be great but I’m just so thankful to be in the world at all.”

For someone who didn’t grow up loving hockey, not having it this year sure made quite the impact on her. “I definitely felt that void” Lydia says again, followed by that well known laugh. “It was really hard in the beginning to figure out… it’s like ‘oh I actually have a weekend free? This is weird, what do I do?’ But I did end up working more just to keep busy and I took another part time job at Pan-Am clinic, so it’s been a very big learning experience this past year and broadening my horizon.”

She says she can’t wait to get back to hockey, hopefully in the fall. “I am really looking forward to it. I’m really missing it.”

Even the long bus rides?

“Yeah… okay… those ones can kind of be a little shorter” Lydia says through a laugh. “I just love the atmosphere so much, I can look past the long trips.”

Celebrating women in the MJHL | Kate Wiens

Story by Dave Anthony 

Kate Wiens – Athletic Therapist & Equipment Manager, Swan Valley Stampeders

Kate is from Glenlea, Manitoba and she says she’s loved hockey her entire life. “I’ve played hockey my whole life. I started when I was four or five. I’ve always watched the games, they’re fast paced and very exciting.”

When she told her parents that she wanted to work in hockey, Kate say’s they had her back the whole way. “They were very excited for me. I’ve always been interested in the injury side of things. Watching football, hockey or baseball on tv, I always wanted to know what was going on, but they’d go to TV timeout and I didn’t enjoy that, I wanted to know what was happening. So, they were very supportive when I wanted to get into hockey. They knew I loved it and they were glad I got to be a part of a sport I always enjoyed.”

The hockey journey started for Kate in AAA where she spent three years while also going to school. “It was fairly easy for me, I guess” Kate says about getting her foot in the door to start working at the AAA level. “I’m not really sure if it was the easiest thing in the world. I knew coaches from playing hockey and I’ve played with coach’s kids that played. I just kind of got into it after that. I did AAA with Eastman for a while. A family friend was a coach and a friend of mine actually worked for the team with me, so it was great to make connections and go on from there.”

Growing up playing hockey, Kate primarily played girls hockey and says making the transition to working with the boy’s hockey programs was an easy one. “I had a great team to start with. They were very welcoming to having a female therapist there, or student I guess right at the very beginning. It was a lot of fun. I’m pretty grateful to have had teams that understand females belong in hockey, too. I’ve been pretty lucky that way.

When the opportunity came to move up to the MJHL, Kate didn’t hesitate, and Stamps didn’t hesitate to bring in a great talent. “I applied and I got an interview right away. It just went from there and I’ve been here for a while now. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Kate details a little of what she does on a given game day. “I typically show up to the rink 5 or 6 hours early, depending on the day. Get the locker-room all set up, make sure it’s all clean, sharpen whoever’s skates need to be sharpened… I’ve been pretty lucky to have the guys I work with ask me to do it the night before, but if I don’t get to it the night before, it becomes a game day thing. I’ll set up the room with jerseys and socks. Vacuum and sweep the room so there are no rocks when they go onto the ice. I make sure it’s all set with tape or whatever equipment they might need.”

Having such a deep passion for the game of hockey, Kate says being on the bench or having the in-depth conversations that come to working for a team, is a dream come true. “It’s really cool to hear at all levels. How coaches deal with players or manage situations. It’s all kinds of stuff and it’s really something special.”

Being a woman in what’s primarily considered a man’s league, Kate says she doesn’t have to look too far for role models. “I think there’s quite a few people I look up too. There’s so many. It’s cool to see women in the NHL, like Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell, doing their thing. It’s super cool to see.”

Across the province, Kate has become someone that girls can look up too. They see her on an MJHL bench and that’s something that means a great deal to Kate. “It’s an honor” she says, her smile and pride evident even through a phone call. “I can’t even explain that feeling. It’s so cool to have the kids come up to the glass beside me and they just tap on the glass and wave or say hi. Their curious what about I’m doing and it’s really cool. I just appreciate that so much. I’m speechless because of that support from those kids. It’s, it’s special.”

Even just in her third year in the MJHL, Kate has noticed more women taking roles in the league and she’s thrilled about it. “It’s great to see that. It’s such a huge step forward. To have a lot of female athletic therapists in the league is huge. There’s females in broadcasting and marketing and in every aspect, it’s all just such a great step forward.”

When it comes to breaking down the doors of coaching, Kate believes there will certainly be a female assistant or head coach in the MJHL sooner rather than later. “I think we’re trending towards that. It would be really cool to see.”

Despite not having any games this year, Kate’s found a way to make an impact away from the rink. “Right now, I’m working in the Coronavirus Immunization Clinic. I’m in that role, helping people get vaccinated. Been keeping busy with that while also dealing with team things like renovations, equipment things and getting guys ready for next year.”

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League Prospect Development Camp is scheduled for mid-July and Kate will be there again, lending her talents to the league and the game she loves. To say she’s excited about getting back to the rink and having hockey again, is an understatement. “I can’t explain my excitement” Kate says bursting at the seams with joy at the thought of a fall start. “I can’t wait to get started. You can’t measure my excitement.”

As Kate’s career continues, she hopes to keep building her skill level, building a strong reputation in the community and being a leader for women and athletic therapists across the province.

She also hopes to one day, make it all the way to the show. “I’m going to keep working and go where the hockey road takes me. WHL, AHL or hopefully, one day, the NHL. I’m hoping to open a clinic that I can practice athletic therapy out of as well. That’s the goal.”

MJHL Podcast Feature | Dale Weise

MJHL Podcast Episode 29, featuring former Winnipeg South Blues forward and NHL veteran, Dale Weise.

Dale joins the podcast to chat about growing up in Winnipeg, his brief stint in the MJHL, his different stops along the way in the NHL and dives into what’s been keeping him busy off the ice since stepping away from the game.

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

MJHL launches first annual Draft Prospect Camp

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) is pleased to launch the MJHL Draft Prospect Camp to be held in conjunction with the annual MJHL Prospect Development Camp.

Hosted from July 14-17, 2021 at Seven Oaks Sportsplex in Winnipeg, the U16 age-division (MJHL Draft Prospect Camp) will feature elite Manitoba players from the 2006-born age category who will be eligible for the 2022 U17 MJHL Draft.

With the recent updates to the MJHL Draft process, moving to a U17 age category, the addition of the MJHL Draft Prospect Camp will give MJHL organizations the opportunity to begin identification of those (U16) 2006-born players in a high-performance environment.

The current MJHL Prospect Development Camp has traditionally seen one division of the top U18 prospects from MJHL teams who are listed or drafted and eligible to compete for a roster spot in the upcoming MJHL season, that camp will coincide July 15-18 also at Seven Oaks Sportsplex.  Both camp divisions will further provide hockey partners such as the Western Hockey League (WHL), NCAA, and Hockey Manitoba U16 Program of Excellence opportunities for player identification and evaluation within one convenient setting.

“We are excited to add another age group to our annual summer MJHL Prospect event and for the opportunity to work with these young athletes as they continue on their development path.  It has been a difficult season for all of these players and this camp will provide them with the environment to showcase their abilities, while also learning more about the MJHL and what it takes to succeed at the next level.” MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette

An elite class of guest coaches and development personnel that regularly participate in the MJHL Prospect Development Camp along with AAA coach networking and mentorship opportunities will become a part of the new MJHL Draft Prospect Camp.

Initial invites for the 2021 MJHL Draft Prospect Camp will be distributed in the coming weeks directly to those players identified.

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

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

MJHL Podcast Feature | Owen Murray

MJHL Podcast Episode 28, featuring former Portage Terriers Defenseman, Owen Murray.

The current Green Bay Gambler discusses his transition to the USHL, looks back on his time in the MJHL, shares what his NCAA recruiting process was like and why he chose to commit to UMass.

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

MJHL announces 5th annual Prospect Dev. Camp

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

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

“The MJHL Prospect Development Camp provides the next generation of MJHL Players with the knowledge and resources to be successful both on and off the ice, an experience of what playing in the MJHL is all about, and the platform to showcase themselves to coaches and scouts from all levels of hockey,” explained MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

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

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

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

Players will receive both on and off-ice skill development led by experienced professionals in their respective fields.  The on-ice program will consist of skill and practice sessions along with modified games / scrimmages, the off-ice portion will cover elements related to athleticism and mental skills, as well as the technical and tactical skills required to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

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

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

MJHL Podcast Feature | Justin Falk

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

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

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

12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Well… this sucks.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Happy.

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

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

  1. Angry.

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

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

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

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

  1. Proper Frustration.

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

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

  1. Sad.

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

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

  1. Hungry.

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

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

They feel this league shutting down too.

  1. Angry, again.

Yup, still pretty upset about all of this.

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

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

7 . Disappointment.

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

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

These kids are struggling.

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

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

It’s okay to not be okay.

8 . Crushed.

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

It’s crushing to think what could have been.

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

  1. Optimistic.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Hope.

The league itself is in good hands.

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

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

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

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

  1. Honored.

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

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

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

  1. Thankful.

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus. Promise.

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

I love the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

MJHL Job Posting | Winkler Flyers Sales & Marketing

Job posting courtesy of Winkler Flyers.

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

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

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

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

MJHL announces significant change to annual draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please stay tuned for further announcements in the coming weeks.

About the Manitoba Junior Hockey League

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

Mission Statement

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

MJHL Podcast Feature | Reilly Funk

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

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

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