For many young hockey players, it’s a dream come true to play just one game in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Steinbach Pistons’ forward Dan Taillefer has fulfilled that dream and then some. A five-year veteran, Taillefer has played a total of 298 regular-season games. Repeat: 298 games!
You might be surprised to know that this ironman total is NOT a league record. Nope. The league record is 299, which is proudly held by Winnipeg Saints’ defenceman Kyle Devisser, who played from 2001 to 2006.
“Every once in a while one of my buddies will remind me that I’m the record holder,” said Devisser, who now works for a Winnipeg engineering firm. “It was a long time ago and these days I don’t really give it too much thought. I really enjoyed playing junior hockey.
“Congratulations to Dan and his accomplishment. Sounds like he’s had a great career.”
Taillefer came to the Pistons as a wide-eyed, eager-to-impress 16-year-old rookie.
“I had just been traded by Portage to Steinbach,” he remembers. “I was really excited about playing so close to home, my family and friends. It was a thrill to play for the Pistons.”
Taillefer admits the early days with the Pistons were difficult. “Guys didn’t want to play here because we were losing,” he said. “There was a negative attitude about us. But, in my second season, a group of local businessmen took over the club. In one year we did a 180-degree turn.”
Taillefer admits the highlite of his career was winning the MJHL championship at home in Steinbach over the Dauphin Kings. His personal accomplishment of longevity is also a source of pride.
“I’ve been pretty lucky to have played that many games,” said Taillefer, who hails from LaBroquerie. “I was fortunate not to get hurt too seriously and miss games. I was really fortunate to have played with a great group of guys over the years.”
Taillefer and his Piston teammates are currently battling for the Turnbull Trophy, facing defending MJHL/RBC Cup champions Portage Terriers.
During the course of his career, Taillefer has established himself as one of the best players in the MJHL. This past season he finished fourth in league scoring with 81 points (22-59) in 60 games. The classy forward also accomplished another rare feat: one penalty during the regular season. ONE!
“Yeah sure, I remember the penalty,” he says with a laugh. “It was a tripping penalty against OCN, and I still think the guy fell on his own.”
Not one to shy away from physical play, Taillefer says he knows he’s more valuable to his team on the ice than in the penalty box. He takes pride in his disciplined style of play. A trait which did not go unnoticed by MJHL coaches. At season’s end, Taillefer was named winner of the Lorne ‘Windy’ Lyndon trophy, given to the player who shows the most hockey ability and sportsmanship.
After graduating from Junior A hockey, Taillefer is hoping to combine education with hockey. He’s had conversations with several CIS teams, but hasn’t come to a final decision yet. During the past several off-seasons, he’s worked as a carpenter with his uncle and cousin.
In the meantime, Taillefer unabashedly proclaimed the Steinbach fans the best in the league.
“They really know their hockey, and players,” said the graduate of the Eastman Selects midget program. “They’ll come up to us on the street and talk to us. The fans in Steinbach are fantastic. I’m going to miss playing in front of them.”
And after five seasons, the fans will miss Dan Taillefer.