For Bob Somerfeld, the Selkirk Rec Complex is more than just a hockey arena, it’s home to some of his fondest memories. From announcing Selkirk Steelers games to getting to know the volunteers, players and coaching staff, Somerfeld has had a front row seat to it all. The 52-year-old has been the Steelers game announcer for 14 years and has been with the Selkirk Steelers Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club for 25 years. He got his start doing the music during home games before he made his way into both the penalty and now press box calling the shots during the games. “My two passions in life are sports and music so it’s a perfect mix, a perfect fit for me,” Somerfeld said with a smile while standing inside the press box at the rec complex last Thursday afternoon. “I enjoy watching the games, I enjoy everything about the games.” Over the years he’s also come up with his own catchphrase to announce the Steelers, “let’s make some noise for your steeltown boys,” to pump up the crowd. “I’ve been following the Steelers my whole life so to become part of the organization was really special to me,” he said. Somerfeld said the key to being a good game announcer is using your own voice. “You can’t make up a voice … and you have to bring a little excitement to the game and when you announce,” he said. “I found that the more excited I get about us scoring the more excited the fans get.” Somerfeld also owns his own music company, Somerfeld Sound, so becoming an announcer was a natural fit for him. “It’s been amazing,” Somerfeld said, referring to all of the Steelers players he’s watched over the years. “Every team is different but most of them are just incredible young men.” But Somerfeld admits one thing he’s noticed over the past couple years are more empty seats in the stands during home games. The Selkirk Rec Complex, which opened in May 1990, holds roughly 2,000 fans, but lately only around 500 of those seats are filled during home games. “I’ve noticed over the last four or five years that attendance has been declining,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because we need the support, the players need the support and we should consider ourselves lucky to have Junior ‘A’ and Junior ‘B’ hockey in Selkirk. “The only way to keep them going is to come out to some games.” Somerfeld added some of the biggest crowds he’s ever seen was during the 2006-07 season. “It was really fun to come to work everyday when you had that many fans and the energy in the building,” he said. “The game seven of the 06’ 07’ Anavet Cup run was probably the greatest game I’ve ever seen in my life to be a part of.” He added the best part about that game was when the Steelers scored the winning goal and “the roof completely came off the place.” “There was chaos on the ice … the fans were going crazy and the players were going crazy.” As of Monday afternoon, the Steelers sat in third place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Their next home game is on Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. when they will go up against the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard team from The Pas.
Thanks in large part to a six-point game, James McIsaac of Portage Terriers has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. McIsaac, 17, scored four goals in a recent win over Virden, also adding two assists. As expected, he was selected first star of the game. In three games (two Terrier wins) last week, McIsaac had a total of eight points (6-2). McIsaac, who represented the MJHL in the recent CJHL Prospects’ Game, has had an outstanding season, reflected in 33 goals and 64 points in 56 games. The native of Winnipeg also has eight powerplay goals this season. The runners up are 20 year old forward Carter Cowlthorp of the Virden Oil Capitals and 19 year old forward Nolan Richards of the Neepawa Natives.
New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting current MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Cedric Chenier Winnipeg Blues Prospect Position: Forward Number: 12 Height: 5’11” Weight: 180 Hometown: Winnipeg Team: Winnipeg Wild Midget AAA Cedric finished 1st overall in the Manitoba AAA Midget Regular Season Scoring race with 30 goals, 35 assists for 65 points in 43 games played, helping his team to a first place finish in the Regular Season Standings. Tim Schick-Winnipeg Blues Director of Player Personnel/Head Scout on Chenier: Cedric is a very strong and skilled forward with superb vision and comes to play every game. He has great knowledge of the game with an excellent work ethic on and off the ice. He is a real leader and a great teammate. We had the pleasure of getting him into a couple of games this season in which he played very well, scored a goal, and was also named 3rd star in one of the games
OCN Blizzard’s Brady Keeper is the recipient of two major MJHL awards: MVP and top defenceman, Commissioner Kim Davis announced today. The league also announced the winners of the remaining four major awards and all-star teams. “Every player should be commended for their outstanding performance over the regular season,” said Davis. “Coaches of the league vote and make the selections. These selections are extremely difficult to make. The talent level in our league continues to improve yearly. The selection of our award winners and all-stars is a time-consuming and difficult process.” Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh MVP Award Brady Keeper, 20, hails from Cross Lake and has committed to University of Maine for next season. In 44 games, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound D-man has scored 22 goals and recorded 45 points. Rookie of the Year – Vince Leah Trophy Cole Weaver, Winkler Flyers. The rookie goaltender from Champin Park, MN, has enjoyed an outstanding freshman season. He currently owns a 24-11 record with a .909 save percentage. At 6-foot-2, he takes up a lot of net, making it very difficult for opposition shooters. As you can guess, his favourite player is a goaltender: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Hockey Ability – Lorne “Windy” Lyndon Trophy Jeremey Leipsic, Portage Terriers. The native of Winnipeg currently leads the MJHL scoring race, and is hoping to add that award to his accomplishments. He currently has 93 points (30-63) in 55 games. At 5-foot-8, Leipsic is highly skilled and can make plays at a high speed. Leipsic, 19, is hoping to earn a college scholarship. His older brother, Brendan, plays with the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Top Goaltender Roman Bengert, Steinbach Pistons. The native of Cole Harbour, NS, leads the MJHL in three goaltending categories: wins (34), minutes played (2,439) and shutouts (five). At 6-foot-3, Bengert has proven to be extremely difficult to beat. Bengert recently committed to Lake Superior State. Top Defenceman – Brian Kozak Trophy Brady Keeper, OCN Blizzard Coach of the Year – Portage Terriers “ Muzz McPherson” Award Paul Dyck, Steinbach Pistons. Currently, the Pistons have only eight losses this season and have been nationally ranked No. 1 several times by the CJHL. Dyck, a former draft of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was head coach when the Pistons won the MJHL in 2013. Under Dyck’s tutelage, the Pistons have appeared in the last two MJHL championships. 1st All Star Team Goal Roman Bengert Steinbach Pistons Defence Lawson McDonald Winkler Flyers Defence Brady Keeper OCN Blizzard Forward Jeremey Leipsic Portage Terriers Forward Brandon Stanley Wayway Wolverines Forward MacKenzie Graham Steinbach Pistons 2nd All Star Team Goal Cole Weaver Winkler Flyers Defence Tyler Anderson Steinbach Pistons Defence Tyler Jubenvill Winkler Flyers Forward Chase Brakel Portage Terriers Forward Scott Gall Winkler Flyers Forward Jake Dudar Selkirk Steelers Rookie All Star Team Goal Cole Weaver Winkler Flyers Defence Layne Toder Portage Terriers Defence Sam Stewart Neepawa Natives Forward Will Koop Steinbach Pistons Forward Riese Gaber Dauphin Kings Forward Dallas Tulik Winnipeg Blues Each all-star winner will receive their award at their home rink over the next two weeks. The MJHL’s top scorer, who will be decided upon season’s end, will receive the Mike Ridley Trophy, named after the prolific goal scorer who starred with the St. Boniface Saints.
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent The race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the MJHL is perhaps the most exciting one with two weeks to go. A three-team race is a pretty much a two-team one now, but the final two weeks offer up the potential for plenty of drama. Let’s take a look at the three teams left, and what their schedules look like. First off is the Swan Valley Stampeders, who have six games remaining and lead the Neepawa Natives by three points. Swan Valley’s schedule goes like this – at Wayway, versus Virden, versus Virden again, at Portage, versus Wayway, at Neepawa. Neepawa, who pose the biggest threat after a four-game winning streak, retain a game in hand on Swan Valley. Their schedule goes like this – versus Wayway, versus Portage, at Portage, at Winkler, versus Steinbach, versus Dauphin, versus Swan Valley. Neepawa’s overtime loss Sunday left them still in need of help of catching the Stampeders, though they retain one game in hand. The Dauphin Kings are five points back and have only four games left. They need to basically win out and still likely need help to sneak into the post season. And their schedule is the toughest. They end the season like this: versus Steinbach, versus Steinbach, at Neepawa, at Winnipeg. Those two games versus the Pistons might just do in the Kings, who have not missed the playoffs in a long time. So the race really comes down to Swan Valley and Neepawa. The final game of the season between one another could determine eighth seed to the playoffs. But the schedule works against Neepawa. They had only won 12 games prior to their four-game win streak, and they will need to out-win Swan Valley down the stretch. Even if Swan Valley only wins two of six games, Neepawa still needs to win three of six games to pass them. And with a game against the Pistons, two against the Terriers, and one against Winkler, their schedule is much harder than that of the Stampeders, who only play one game against a team higher in the standings than the seventh place Oil Capitals, that being the fifth place Terriers.
Nominees for the MJHL’s six major awards have been finalized, Commissioner Kim Davis announced today. “Each team submitted a nominee for the awards and the league’s 11 coaches subsequently conducted a vote,” explained Davis. “Each of the nominees should be very proud of their accomplishment.” The respective winners will be announced later this week. The Mike Ridley Award, given to league’s top point producer, will be known when the regular season comes to an end. The award finalists are: MVP Award – Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh Memorial Trophy Mackenzie Graham – Steinbach Pistons Chase Brakel – Portage Terriers Brady Keeper – OCN Blizzard Rookie of the Year Award – Vince Leah Trophy Riese Gaber – Dauphin Kings Will Koop – Steinbach Pistons Cole Weaver- Winkler Flyers Hockey Ability and Sportsmanship Award – Lorne “Windy” Lyndon Memorial Trophy Jeremey Leipsic – Portage Terriers Scott Gall – Winkler Flyers Justin Metcalf – Neepawa Natives Top Goaltender Award Hayden Dola – Selkirk Steelers Cole Weaver – Winkler Flyers Roman Bengert – Steinbach Pistons Top Defenseman Award – Brian Kozak Memorial Trophy Brady Keeper – OCN Blizzard Tyler Anderson – Steinbach Pistons Lawson McDonald – Winkler Flyers Top Scorer Award – Mike Ridley Trophy TBA at a later date Coach of the Year Award – Portage Terriers “Muzz McPherson” Award Paul Dyck – Steinbach Pistons Ken Pearson – Winkler Flyers Doug Hedley – OCN Blizzard
New this season, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting upcoming and current MJHL Prospects from each minor hockey association that supports an MJHL organization along with Brandon and Thompson. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new Manitoba Young Guns Profile bi-weekly on our website and through our social media platforms. Manitoba Young Guns Series Player Profile – Rylan Thomas Hometown: Winkler MB Weight: 110 lbs Height: 5’ 3.5” Position: D Number: 22 Shoots: Right Team: Winkler Flyers Bantam AA What kind of player are you? Stay at Home Defenseman Interests/Hobbies: Hockey, baseball, golf, camping & the outdoors Achievements (sport and/or academically): Received the Winkler Elementary School, Award of Excellence in 2016 What are your hockey goals for the future? To play to the best of my ability and at the highest level I am capable of.
New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series (Bantam Players), the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is going to highlight MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will take a look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new MJHL-In the System Player Profile bi-weekly on the MJHL website and through MJHL social media platforms. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Cade Kowalski Winkler Flyers Prospect Position: Forward Number: 18 Height: 5’11 Weight: 165 Hometown: Morden Team: Pembina Valley Hawks Cade is tied for the scoring lead for the Pembina Valley Hawks with 14 goals and 42 assists in 38 games played. He currently sits 4th in the Manitoba AAA Midget Overall League Scoring race and 1st in League assists. Winkler Flyers Coach/General Manager Ken Pearson on Kowalski: "Cade is an intelligent player who sees the ice and uses his line mates well, he plays with an edge and has the skating ability to create offence off the rush. We have been able to have Cade play as an AP in 2 big games so far this season and he has played very well."
Note to our fans: The MJHL will be highlighting our players throughout the season that are currently signed in the Western Hockey League. “We feel that the MJHL gives younger players a great opportunity to further develop as a player and person in a very professional and competitive environment,” said Kevin Saurette, Director of Operations, MJHL. “These players are able to play important minutes against older competition which translates into the players being better prepared for when they make that next step to Major Junior Hockey.” The inaugural WHL Prospect Watch features Neepawa Natives 16-year-old defenseman Sam Stewart. Sam Stewart admits it was the toughest decision of his still very young life. At 16, he had to make a decision that would have significant consequences well into the future. Play NCAA college hockey? Or sign on with a Western Hockey League team? Flip a coin: tails it’s the Dub. Heads its college. If it were only that simple. “I was very, very nervous,” admits the talented Neepawa Natives’ defenseman. “It (the decision) was pretty much all I could focus on for a couple of weeks. I was lucky that I could talk to some very good people.” In the end, Stewart signed a WHL card with Tri-City Americans. That decision would then slam the door on the NCAA hockey route. “I spoke to my assistant coach (Ryan Menei), my billet (Matt Lowry), who both had similar decisions to make when they were younger. They could relate to me. We had very good talks. It was a tough decision, but it’s one I feel confident making.” Many players find themselves in similar situations as Stewart. The decision does not come without significant mental stress. In the end, Stewart came away feeling pretty good. But, then he picked up the phone and notified the college team which was interested in him. “It was a tough call,” remembers Stewart. “Honestly, I had gone back and forth a couple of times on my decision. I spoke to them (college coach) and explained my decision. I know they’ve heard it before from other players.” Stewart is considered a blue-chip prospect: he’s both athletically gifted and academically strong. “I get 90s in school,” said Stewart, who is 6-foot, 180-pounds. In the end, the Western Hockey League won out. “Tri-City really showed a lot of interest in me,” said Stewart. “Their GM (Bob Torry) flew into Winnipeg to watch me during our Showcase. That means a lot. I looked at everything when I made my decision. The length of the schedule, daily practices, the competition level. It made sense for me to go the WHL route.” Stewart, who hails from Winnipeg, also credits his time in the MJHL for helping him prepare for the next step in his hockey career. Moving to Neepawa was a major adjustment for the city kid. But, like thousands of others before him, leaving home at a young age comes with the hockey adventure. “The MJHL is a very good league,” he said. “There’s a lot of skill here. It was definitely an adjustment for me, moving from midget to Junior A. Guys are faster. Stronger. Older.” And the Natives couldn’t be happier for Stewart. "Sam is a skilled defenseman that plays older than his age,” said Natives’ GM Myles Cathcart. “He sees the ice extremely well, plays in all situations and is a student of the game." “Sam was able to develop this season so that he is ready to play at the next level. He is a quality young man off the ice and exhibits a professional attitude towards the game of hockey." In the meantime, Stewart is focused on a number of short-term goals: helping Neepawa make the playoffs, continuing to improve his game and join the Americans when his MJHL season comes to an end. “I feel so relieved that I’ve made my decision. Now I can focus on other things which can help me improve. I’m also having fun: and that means a lot too.” Note: A full list of the MJHL (1999, 2000) players currently signed in the Western Hockey League is available here.
The Penticton Vees Jr. A Hockey Club is proud to announce Sun Life Financial as the Presenting sponsor of the 2017 Western Canada Cup. The tournament runs April 29th – May 7th at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Director of Player Development & Corporate Sales David Michaud is excited about the partnership, “Sun Life Financial has a long history of partnering with some of the premier names in Canadian sports like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and the Canadian Football League. We’re honoured that they think enough of the job we’re doing here in Penticton to want to partner with us, and help in our objective of making the 2017 Western Canada Cup the best one to date.” The Official Western Canada Cup event logo is now inclusive of the Sun Life Financial trademark. The logo is based on the classic shield and banner motif, and reflects the four leagues through use of the four stars in the banner. “We are so proud to have the opportunity to support such a well-known event, especially at a local level,” said Jason Schnitzler, Sun Life Financial Centre Manager. “Many of our advisors across the company have deep roots in the hockey world, and to be able give something back is very humbling. We are looking forward to our partnership, and being part of the 2017 Western Canada Cup!” About Sun Life Financial: Sun Life Financial is a Canadian operated business that was founded more than 150 years, and they are an industry leader in wealth solutions, with a client base of millions of individuals and thousands of companies across the country. Sun Life Financial advisors form the largest dedicated life, health and investment services network in Canada. They have nearly 4,000 advisors in more than 1,200 communities across the country. About the Western Canada Cup: The Western Canada Cup features the four western league champions (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and the host Penticton Vees. The Western Canada Cup Champion and the runner-up will both represent western Canada at the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship in Cobourg, Ontario. CONTACT: FRASER RODGERS Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations FraserRodgers@gmail.com / (250) 809-1390
Swan Valley Stampeders’ goaltender Brett Evans has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. Evans, 18, won back-to-back games for the Stamps who are in a heated playoff race. Evans, who hails from Grandview, MB, posted a GAA of 2.00 and save percentage of .950. He was also named first star in one of his victories. The runners up are 18 year old forward Gino Lucia of the Winkler Flyers and 20 year old forward Jake Dudar of the Selkirk Steelers.
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent Portage Terriers forward James McIsaac is having himself a tremendous year. He is a top-10 scorer in the MJHL, his Terriers are chasing a historic three-peat as league champions, and he’s also on the radar of scouts across North America. The 17-year-old Winnipeg native was the lone MJHL representative at the recently-held CJHL Top Prospect’s Game in Cornwall, Ont. The yearly showcase pits the top draft-eligible junior A players head-to-head in front of fans and scouts from the NHL, WHL and colleges both north and south of the border. Appearing in this contest is an opportunity to be seen alongside other draft-eligible peers, and for McIsaac, it was a memorable moment in his young hockey career. “It was a great experience to play with some of the top-end players in the Canadian Junior Hockey League,” said McIsaac, who had 25 goals and 25 assists after 43 games this year for the Terriers. “I was able to play in a fast-paced game with some of the most skilled players in the CJHL.” McIsaac knew of the event, which has featured many players who have gone on to be drafted and played in the NHL and earned many scholarships at NCAA schools. And when he was announced as one of this year’s participants, he knew it was a fantastic opportunity. “I knew what the concept of the event was, but all I had was a wish to make the team,” he said. “And when I did, I was obviously very excited.” Outside of the on-ice action, McIsaac was put through the paces with some testing, while also getting the opportunity to listen to speakers who have walked the path they are all currently on – making this more than just a chance to play with other draft-eligible players in front of scouts. “After we dropped off our bags at the rink, we all met at the hotel for lunch, with both teams involved,” he said. “Then we had some guest speakers, former NHL players (Chad Kilger and Jesse Winchester) talked to us, and it was very interesting to hear what they had to say.” Back at the arena, McIsaac and company were put through their paces, all under the watchful eyes of scouts in the stands. “The next morning we had on-ice testing, where they tested our speed, stops and starts, turns, that sort of stuff,” said McIsaac. “I had never done something like that before, so that was pretty cool.” After the game, the dressing room had many scouts coming and going, speaking to players right after they skated. And the MJHL’s representative was no exception. “We all know there was going to be scouts and coaches in the stands, and before the game I tried not to let that stress me out,” said McIsaac. “After the game, a bunch came into the room, so that was exciting, especially since I talked to a couple of them.” McIsaac says he would love the chance to play NCAA hockey following his junior A career, but also knows that taking part in the Top Prospect’s game opens the door for the potential to be drafted in the upcoming NHL draft. “It’s been my dream to play NCAA hockey, but (being drafted) could also happen, and that would be a dream come true as well,” he said.
The RBC Player of the Month for January is forward George King of the OCN Blizzard. King, 18, exploded on the scoring sheet with 17 points (11-6) in 12 games, earning him RBC Player of the Month honours. The high-scoring forward had three, multi-point games, highlighted by a five-point performance in one game. Aligning to RBC’s #Someday platform, King’s #Someday is "to win a MJHL Championship with a great group of guys and earn a NCAA Division 1 Scholarship.” A native of Calgary, King was also selected a first star twice last month, in addition to a second-star selection. Currently, he sits second in team scoring with 27 goals and 37 points; six goals coming via the powerplay. The runners up are 19 year old forward Bradley Schoonbaert of the Steinbach Pistons and 18 year old forward Nathan Halvorsen of the Selkirk Steelers. Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month The Sher-wood Defenceman of the Month for January is Taylor Fisher of the Selkirk Steelers. Fisher, 20, was steady on the blueline for the Steelers, who currently sit third overall in the standings with 31 wins and 65 points. Offensively, the product of Winnipeg contributed 10 points (5-5) in 10 games. The runners up are 19 year old Tyler Anderson of the Steinbach Pistons and 17 year old Tyler Jubenvill of the Winkler Flyers. MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month With eight wins in January, Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons has been named the MGEU Goaltender of the Month. Bengert, 20, posted an outstanding 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage in nine games. His stellar play also resulted in him being a named a game star on five occasions. A native of Cole Harbour, NS, Bengert leads all MJHL goaltenders with 28 wins and five shutouts. He’s committed to suit up next season with Lake Superior State. The runners up are 19 year old Brett Epp of the OCN Blizzard and 20 year old Brandon Holtby of the Dauphin Kings. IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month With 14 points scored in January, forward Will Koop of the Steinbach Pistons has been named the IBAM Rookie of the Month. Koop, 18, scored six goals in 12 games last month, highlighted by four, multi-point games. Currently, the native of Winnipeg sits third in Piston scoring with 40 points (16-24) in 41 games. The runners up are 16 year old defenseman Layne Toder of the Portage Terriers and 16 year old defenseman Marco Creta of the Virden Oil Capitals. Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month The Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month for January is Levi Cudmore of the Winnipeg Blues. Cudmore, who hails from Park River, ND, has been leading the Winnipeg Blues both on and off the ice this season. He has been very involved in book reading programs aimed at local schools in Winnipeg. Cudmore, 19, also spends his time helping grow the game of hockey by volunteering at numerous hockey practices with local minor hockey teams in Winnipeg.
The Steinbach Pistons are excited to announce that Goaltender Roman Bengert has committed to Lake Superior State University Lakers of the NCAA Division 1. The news has brought excitement and relief for the Pistons 20 year-old starting net-minder who will now be continuing his hockey career at the highest collegiate level in the United States. “It definitely is exciting, but I also feel a sense of relief,” said Bengert, who grew up in Kyoto, Japan, moving to Canada when he was eight years-old. “I’m glad to be able to just focus on the Pistons and what we do with this special season.” Bengert is helping backstop the Pistons to potentially their best season yet. Steinbach caught everyone’s attention when they kicked off the year with a 13-0-0 record, capturing the top spot in the CJHL’s top twenty rankings in the first four weeks of the season and have stayed in the top 10 since. The success Bengert is seeing today hasn’t come easy. The goaltender’s persistence early in his junior career helped him stay the course despite not being in the most ideal situation. He started his hockey playing days in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. He soon realized that if he wanted to achieve his goal of a NCAA Division 1 scholarship he was going to have to consider moving west. “Part of the reason I didn’t stick around on the east coast was that it was mainly just about hockey,” he said. “In the MJHL, specifically the Pistons, it was about more.” Bengert bounced between three teams in his first year of junior hockey. The adventure started with one game in the CCHL with the Smiths Falls Bears, 15 games with the Point Mallard Ducks of the North American 3 Hockey League and then back home to play 9 games with the Cole Harbour Colts of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League. That is a total of 6,149 kilometres of travel just between those communities. And the travel didn’t stop there, this time he decided to kick off his 19 year-old season by making the 3,475 kilometre trip from Cole Harbour out to Steinbach, Manitoba after receiving advice from his goaltender coach Steve Briere. “I had been speaking with Briere in the spring/summer of 2015 about our goaltending needs, and he said he had a goalie in mind and felt he just needed an opportunity,” said Pistons Head Coach and General Manager Paul Dyck. “After speaking with Roman several times that summer, we decided to bring him in and it was a very good decision.” Bengert made the team and would eventually play himself into the starting position as the Pistons made a deep playoff run. The positive for Bengert was that he didn’t get moved, he had the luxury of playing on the same team for an entire year and better yet, he was guaranteed the starting job the following season. He embraced the new role of the starting goaltender and attracted immediate attention posting a 2.02 GAA, .929 SV%, 28-4-0 record and 5 shutouts so far this season. There were multiple people watching and asking about Bengert, but it was Lake Superior State University that snatched him up first. “Lake Superior has a strong past as well as a young team that has potential to be successful in the near future,” he said about the Lakers, who were NCAA Tournament Champions in 1988, 1992 and 1994. “I also feel that I have an opportunity to earn a meaningful role on the team in my collegiate career.” And Bengert was quick to recognize that he wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the Steinbach Pistons. “Steinbach is home to one of the classiest Junior ‘A’ organizations in the country and offers extensive support to those wanting to reach the next level,” he added. “I simply cannot express how thankful I am for the Pistons and the entire Steinbach community.” The Steinbach Pistons are very proud of Roman’s recent accomplishments. “We are extremely excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for Roman,” said Dyck. “He has put together a strong body of work over the past two season and is very deserving of this commitment.
Thanks to an offensively productive week, George King of the OCN Blizzard has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. King, 18, produced seven points (2-5) in three games for the Blizzard. The native of Calgary earned second star selection in one game after he exploded for five points (2-3). Currently, King sits second in team scoring with 27 goals and 37 points in 43 games. The runners up are 20 year old defenseman Ryan Carlson of the Steinbach Pistons and 19 year old forward Matt Christian of the Winkler Flyers.
To say the Dauphin Kings’ Ukrainian Night on Saturday was a success would be an understatement. In case you missed it the Kings and Ruff’s Furniture in Dauphin hosted over 1700 fans on Saturday where the Kings defeated the Virden Oil Capitals 3-2 in overtime. Along with the live Ukrainian bands, Kubassa Toss, and traditional Ukrainian […]
New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting current MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Ben Coppinger Selkirk Steelers Prospect Position: Forward Number: 17 Height: 5’9” Weight: 160 Hometown: Winnipeg, MB Team: Winnipeg Wild AAA Ben is an assistant captain for the AAA Midget League leading Winnipeg Wild where he currently has registered 14 goals, 17 assists for 31 points in 32 games played. He was a 1st Round Pick for the Steelers in the 2015 MJHL Bantam Draft and was a late release for the Steelers this fall as a 16-year-old. Ken Petrash-General Manager of the Selkirk Steelers on Coppinger: "Ben’s work ethic is 2nd to none and the Steelers fully expect Ben to make the jump to the MJHL with the Steelers next season, where we believe Ben will be a fan favorite in Steeltown”
An integral part of the Steinbach Pistons for the past three years, Julien Koga has been forced to leave the game of hockey that he loves so much, and those fellow players that are so much more than just his teammates, because of recurring concussions. Koga, 19, in his third season with the hockey club, has garnered a tremendous amount of respect, both on and off the ice, because of his demeanour, and his commitment to the community and the team. Named an assistant captain this year, Koga was a key leader of this hockey club, as he has played a big role in helping the Pistons set the pace all season long in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, a team that is currently ranked fifth in the country. One of the fastest skaters in the MJHL, Koga said he has had five concussions over the past five years, "one a year dating back to bantam." A concussion last season nearly forced the Winnipeg native from the game as doctors said it was his decision whether he would keep playing, cautioning that with each subsequent concussion, the symptoms could get worse. Well it happened again in early January, and this time, with the same advice from the medical staff, he has decided he will not play again. These last two or three weeks since the decision was made to retire from the game has been an emotional time for Koga, as well as his teammates and others around him. "I was honoured this year to be named one of the team’s assistant captains," Koga said in an interview with The Carillon on Monday, "So this is tough not being able to be on the ice anymore." "I was really excited coming into the season, perhaps being able to have an influence on some of the younger players as part of the leadership group." But he says Coach Paul Dyck has made sure he can still be part of the team in any capacity he chooses, even though he is no longer playing. "I will be with the team and at as many games as I can, both home and away, I hope to still have an influence with some of the guys." "It was so much fun this year, the success we are having, it will be a big change of pace for me, it will take a while to adjust," said Koga, who is now enrolled full time at the U of M studying science after being a part time student the past year and a half while playing for the Pistons. Koga says he has grown to love Steinbach in his three years here, "my teammates, the fans, my billets, this city has just been incredible, you don’t get this anywhere else in the league." He has been working with Dr. Ellis from the Pan Am Concussion Clinic, who is also an associate of Dave Blatz from Eastman Therapy Centre in Steinbach. Blatz is the medical director for the Pistons and conducts all the concussion protocols on each member of the Pistons at the start of every season, "it provides a base line that can be very helpful in diagnosing a possible concussion." When Koga made the decision with this family he was going to quit hockey because of further injury, the first people he told in Steinbach, were his billets, Russ and Shannon Dyck, where he spent the past three hockey seasons. "They have been so good to me, like a second home." Shannon Dyck says it was a difficult time for all of them, "you become so close to these players, they live with you for eight months of the year, he is welcome back anytime to our home." Although Koga is back in Winnipeg living with his parents, he expects to crash from time to time, "at his second home." Koga also has a relationship with a young boy in Mitchell as a Big Brother and is continuing with that relationship. Paul Dyck says they will not be naming another assistant captain with Koga’s absence, "partly out of respect for what he has meant to our hockey team, and that is why we have invited him to remain part of the organization." "Our priority is Julien’s health," said Dyck, "this has been a very emotional time for everyone, Julien is a big part of our room, with strong friendships, all of our players have been impacted by this." "Paul has been very supportive," said Koga, "he was a coach I just loved playing for." "I have made lifelong friends playing here in Steinbach, players such as Bo (team captain Jordan Bochinski) we have been together for three years." As for the current season, that has seen the Pistons lead the league since day one of the season, Koga says "we have all bought into the system, the guys realize we have something special here, it comes through hard work, our work ethic every night. We still have a long ways to go, but I plan to be in Penticton with the boys." The MJHL champions will represent the league at the Crescent Point Western Canada Cup the first weekend of May at Penticton, and Koga and company have every intention of being there, that is the goal. "I am proud to be a Steinbach Piston." (Article and Photo courtesy of Terry Frey at TheCarillon.com)
The Winkler Flyers are pleased to announce defenseman Lawson McDonald’s (97) commitment to the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (NCAA Div I) for the 2017-2018 season. The Rosetown, Manitoba native is currently in his fourth season with the Flyers and has developed into one of the best all-around defensemen in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. “We are thrilled that Lawson has made the choice to attend UNO,” said Flyers Head Coach and General Manager Ken Pearson. “Lawson is not only a great player in this league, he is also a great person and student and will no doubt do very well at UNO” added Pearson. Currently, McDonald has 117 points (23 Goals – 94 Assists) in 190 regular season games played with the Flyers. The 5’10”, 175lbs blueliner plays key minutes in all situations and has also served as an Assistant Captain the past two seasons. McDonald joined the Flyers as a 16 year old during the 2013-2014 season, and has been a great ambassador for the Flyers, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Winkler Community. The University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks are one of the top programs in college hockey and play in the NCHC Conference of NCAA Division I Men's Hockey with the likes of the University of North Dakota, Denver, St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami, Western Michigan and Colorado College. McDonald will join former Flyers’ forward Tristan Keck on the Mavericks roster next season. Keck is in his Freshman season at NO after committing to the Mavericks after the 2015-2016 season. The entire Flyers organization would like to congratulate Lawson on his decision to continue his hockey career and education at the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season and look forward to seeing him finish out his Flyers career on a high note this year.
Manitoba Young Guns Series New this season, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting upcoming and current MJHL Prospects from each minor hockey association that supports an MJHL organization along with Brandon and Thompson. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new Manitoba Young Guns Profile bi-weekly on our website and through our social media platforms. Manitoba Young Guns Series Player Profile – Jamie Valentino Jamie is having a strong season for the Norman B1 Wolves where he is the Captain and leading scorer. He was also recently selected to the Winnipeg AAA All Star Weekend where he participated in the B1 All Star Game and Skills Event. Hometown: Thompson, Manitoba Weight: 140 Height: 5’10” Position: Forward Number: 20 Shoots: L Team: Norman AAA Bantam Wolves What kind of player are you? I have good speed and I am a playmaker that can also score. Interests/Hobbies: Fishing, wakeboarding, ball hockey and snowboarding. Achievements (sport and/or academically): I am an Honour roll student and my best hockey achievement so far is being selected to the AAA Bantam All Star game and skills event. What are your hockey goals for the future? My hockey goals are to make AAA Midget as a 15-year-old and to be drafted in the WHL and MJHL Bantam Drafts. Norman Wolves Head Coach Rob Bilawka on Valentino: Jamie is a team leader on and off the ice. He has good speed, is a good two-way player and has the ability to score goals. His commitment to hockey off the ice begins in the summer months with his brothers Justin (CIS University of Lethbridge) and Jordan (Ocn Blizzard) help with his training and focus on the game. This commitment will give Jamie many opportunities in to reach his future hockey goals.
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent It’s been a dream start to his junior career for Portage la Prairie product and MJHL alumni Nick Henry. Last season as a 16-year-old, Henry was named the top rookie in the MJHL rookie following a stellar season with his hometown Terriers. He helped them to their second straight league championship, and then came oh so close to playing in the RBC Cup – the national championship for junior A hockey. Henry made the move to the WHL’s Regina Pats this fall, and success has continued to follow him – both on a personal and team level. The 6’0, 190-pound winger is currently the second-leading rookie scorer in the Western Hockey League – scoring more than a point a game – while the Pats are the top seed in the Eastern Division and are a strong contender for the league championship. Talk about a dream start to junior hockey. Coming out of training camp Henry had the smallest of windows to prove he could not only play at the major junior level, but excel. He made the most of that opportunity – and then some. “Starting this year off, it was a tough decision for my family to come here (to Regina), but when I did come there were a lot of players away at NHL camps, and that kind of gave myself and some other young guys the opportunity to step in and play big minutes for the first four games,” he said. “I was able to jump on a line with Sam Steel and Dawson Leedahl and we clicked. “Sam is signed in the NHL (with the Anaheim Ducks) and he’s a really special player to play with, and watching him play every game and he the way he works is a really neat experience, and I want to get to where he is,” added Henry. Playing on two dominant teams in back-to-back seasons has provided Henry a window to showcase his skills. And though young in age, he’s mature enough to realize having a legitimate chance at winning a championship in back-to-back years is unique opportunity. “I’m really lucky to play on a team like this,” he said. “Even last year (with the Portage Terriers), after winning the RBC Cup the year before, they were not expected to do as much, but Blake (Spiller, Terriers head coach) was able to put together another strong team like he always does and we were able to win it and come one win away from the RBC Cup. “And this year in Regina we have a lot of special players, and made some good deals to make us better for this year and next year, and it’s really exciting to be a part of.” Reached on a Monday afternoon hitting the books for his high school classes, Henry noted he feels his success this year in the WHL is due in part to his being able to play junior A hockey in the MJHL as a 16-year-old rookie. “The WHL is really built for 17, 18 and 19-year-old players, and a few 20-year-olds” said Henry. “Being a 16-year-old playing in the MJHL still offered me really good competition, and the ability to play with really good players, and I think it prepared me by showing me what junior hockey is like. The WHL is a different league than the MJHL, but the MJHL was still a great league to play in. “Blake (Spiller) was a really good coach and he taught me to be a good player, and I have to give him a lot of credit for that.” With 21 goals and 47 points in his first 41 games Henry is building himself quite the resume. His mid-term NHL draft ranking is 25th overall for North American players. “It is great to see what Nick is doing in Regina and his success is a testament to his drive and dedication to continually working towards reaching his future goals in hockey,” MJHL Director of Operations Kevin Saurette said. “He is a great example to younger players in Manitoba and is a great example of how playing in the MJHL for a year or two can benefit younger players and allow them the opportunity to be better prepared for success when making the next step into the WHL.” And with a long playoff run looming, don’t be too surprised to see his stock continue to rise as his dream of being selected in the NHL likely changes from dream to reality this June.
New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting current MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Lynden McCallum Dauphin Kings Prospect Position: Forward Number: 18 Height: 5’11” Weight: 150 Hometown: Brandon, MB Team: Brandon AAA Midget Wheat Kings Lynden currently leads his team in scoring with 18 goals, 24 assists for 42 points in 29 games, averaging 1.45 points per game. He is tied for third in league scoring and his play has helped move the Wheat Kings into third place in the Manitoba AAA Midget league standings. Marc Berry-Head Coach/General Manager of the Dauphin Kings on McCallum: "Lynden is a highly intelligent player with a very good skill set and speed. He reads and anticipates the play around him at a very high level and pays attention to detail. Lynden is a player we are anticipating will step into our line up and contribute immediately. He is a top end prospect for us and a great person. We're looking forward to having him in Dauphin on a full-time basis next season "
Former defensive partners, RBC Cup Champs and Terrier Alumni Tanner Jago and Brett Orr joined their teammates of the Bentley University Falcons for a game of hockey at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass on January 5th. Also known as Frozen Fenway, the NCAA Division 1 school played in front of a sold out crowd and beat Army West Point 3-1. Freshman Brett Orr also picked up his first career goal with an empty netter. Brett Orr – " A couple days before, it rained all day so we didn't know what the ice was going to be like. Once game day came, it was perfect. The wind died down the skies were clear and it was 100% a memory I'll never forget. " Swan Valley alumni Jayson Argue was also on hand as he picked up the win in net for the Falcons. Click here for full game details : http://www.bentleyfalcons.com/sports/mice/2016-17/releases/20170105z8n28t Congratulations to Brett Orr on also being named the Atlantic Hockey Defenseman of the week. Click here for the story; http://www.bentleyfalcons.com/sports/mice/2016-17/releases/20170110isja83
Jeremey Leipsic has been named a 2nd Star in the CJHL Gongshow Gear 3 Stars for December, the CJHL announced. Taking to the ice nine times in December for the Terriers, the 19-year-old Leipsic was an offensive force with the defending MJHL champions totalling 19 points on five goals and 14 assists in that span. The Winnipeg product had seven multi-point games during the time frame and was named a game star twice. His efforts also earned him MJHL RBC player of the month honours. Leipsic currently leads all skaters in the MJHL in scoring with 67 points (21-46) in 38 games. He also tops the MJHL in power play points with 18 and point-per-game average at 1.88. Rounding out the Top 3 are: 1ST STAR: CHRIS JANZEN, (G) TRENTON GOLDEN HAWKS (OJHL) — *A stellar final month of 2016 saw Janzen post a perfect 8-0-0-0 record for the Golden Hawks. The 20-year-old from Fonthill, Ont., leads all netminders in the OJHL in wins, goals-against average and shutouts at 27, 1.88 and four respectively. Janzen also sits second overall in his 22-team league in save percentage at .929. He has been named the OJHL's player and goaltender of the month on three separate occasions already this season for the 2017 Dudley-Hewitt Cup hosts from Trenton. 3RD STAR: JARED VIRTANEN, (F) FORT FRANCES LAKERS (SIJHL) –* In seven contests played for the three-time defending SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup champion Lakers last month, the 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., recorded points in each of them, amassing 20 in total on three goals and 17 assists. Virtanen currently paces Fort Frances in offensive production with 45 points as he has scored 10 times and dished out a league-best 35 assists through 24 games played. The Lakers' assistant captain is currently tied for second in SIJHL scoring and leads the league in point-per-game average at 1.88.
New this season, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting upcoming and current MJHL Prospects from each minor hockey association that supports an MJHL organization along with Brandon and Thompson. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new Manitoba Young Guns Profile bi-weekly on our website and through our social media platforms. Manitoba Young Guns Series Player Profile – Zak Smith Zak is a first-year midget player who is having a great season with the Central Plains Capitals and is a prospect for the Neepawa Natives. He currently sits eleventh in Manitoba AAA Midget League Scoring with 13 goals, 22 assists for 35 points in 32 games. Hometown: Austin, Manitoba Weight: 165 Height: 6’1” Position: Forward Number: 18 Shoots: L Team: Central Plains AAA Midget Capitals What kind of player are you? I hope people would describe me as having a strong work ethic, a playmaker who plays hard at both ends of the ice and in the corners. I’m big so I am able to stand in front of the net and screen goalies on the Power Play Interests/Hobbies: I enjoy hunting and waterskiing Achievements (sport and/or academically): Honour Student What are your hockey goals for the future? I want to play the highest level of hockey possible Central Plains Capitals Head Coach Brad Gnidziejko on Smith: Zak is a first-year midget player who plays like a veteran. He is reliable, hard-working and is a very coachable player who loves the game and comes ready to play every night. Zak has a great shot and speed and prides himself on being a complete 200-foot hockey player Neepawa Natives General Manager Myles Cathcart on Smith: Zak is a skilled forward that plays in both ends of the rink. He has great vision on the ice and anticipates plays. He has character on and off the ice and will develop into an impact player within the MJHL
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent There have been many high-profile graduates coming out of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League ranks. The majority of them are players, but there have been trainers, officials, and coaches who have made their mark after getting their start in the MJHL. The latest alumni to make their mark following their time in the MJHL is David Anning, the head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Anning suited up for the Winnipeg Saints in the early 2000s, and later transitioned into a successful coaching career, with stops in Dauphin, Winnipeg Saints, and the Steinbach Pistons. He coached as an assistant in the RBC Cup with the Kings, and led the Saints to the league championship where they fell to perennial powerhouse Portage. He left the Pistons as their assistant head coach and general manager in 2012 to take an assistant coaching position with the Wheat Kings. And as fate would have it, the Wheat Kings’ former head coach Kelly McCrimmon recently took a job as an assistant general manager with the NHL’s expansion franchise in Las Vegas, opening the door for Anning to become a head coach in the WHL. Anning, who hails from Winnipeg, said he has been enjoying his new position, and is excited about the team he gets to work with. “We’ve been fortunate to put together a tremendous staff,” he said. “We have Don (MacGillivray), who is an excellent bench coach, and a former NHL player in Aaron Rome. I couldn’t be happier with the staff. “And I think the challenge going forward is to get more and more comfortable with each other and the players,” he added. “And I would say the expectations are much the same here as they have been in the past, except the message is different.” MacGillivray, the long-time and successful MJHL coach, can also offer some insight for Anning, as he too served as a WHL assistant and later head coach with the Prince Albert Raiders in the late 1990s. “Don is a great coach with all sorts of experience, both in junior A as well as the Western (Hockey) League,” noted Anning. “He has a lot of knowledge and is someone the group respects.” Anning said his time in the MJHL was the perfect place to learn and hone his craft, learning on the job from some very knowledgeable hockey people. “I was fortunate, as I started coaching in the MJHL at a very young age, and it forced me to really take a mature outlook on things, and to handle myself to a certain standard as I was dealing with players close to my own age,” said Anning, who recently turned 31. “I was fortunate to work with several different coaches, and picked up a lot of different things from different guys.” He mentioned former Dauphin Kings bench boss Marlin Murray and Doug Stokes (and his 670 victories in the MJHL) as two coaches he enjoyed working with. “Marlin gave me a lot of responsibility when (Dauphin) hosted the RBC Cup, and the ownership (with the Winnipeg Saints) showed me a lot of faith making me coach and general manager, and we were able to put together a good team and had some success there,” he said. After moving to the Wheat Kings, Anning had the chance to learn from one of the best in McCrimmon. “Getting to learn from him every day, I was lucky to work along side him,” noted Anning. “And Kelly had several different responsibilities from an ownership, management and coach perspective, so there was a trickle down where myself and other staff would take on a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities on the hockey side, and we were fortunate to have them, as it allowed me to see how things operate first-hand.”
Portage Terriers’ Jeremey Leipsic has been a consistent offensive threat, earning him December’s RBC Player of the Month honour. Leipsic, 19, was selected after he recorded 19 points (5-14) in nine games. Aligning to RBC’s #Someday platform, Leipsic’s #Someday is "to help the Terriers make another championship run and earn a college scholarship". Leipsic, who hails from Winnipeg, had seven multiple-point games, highlighted by being named a game star on two occasions. He also leads all MJHL scorers with 64 points (18-46) in 35 games. The runners up are 19 year old forward Dexter Kuczek of the Winnipeg Blues and 19 year old forward Kirklan Lycar of the Virden Oil Capitals. Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month Tyler Anderson of the Steinbach Pistons was solid on the blueline in December, earning him Sher-Wood-MJHL Defenceman of the Month honours. Anderson, 19, recorded 10 points (3-7) in seven games played; two of those games he was named a game star. Anderson hails from Winnipeg. The runners up are 19 year old Lawson McDonald of the Winkler Flyers and 20 year old Taylor Fisher of the Selkirk Steelers. MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month Selkirk Steelers have been consistently strong this year, thanks in large part to the play of their veteran goaltender, Hayden Dola, 19. The MGEU Goaltender of the Month for December posted a 7-1 record, highlighted by one shutout and a sparkling save percentage of .926. A native of Winnipeg Beach, Dola has 17 wins this season. Twice he was named a game star in December. The runners up are 20 year old Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons and 18 year old Cole Weaver of the Winkler Flyers. IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month Brendan Martin, 19, of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines has been outstanding this season. His December was exceptionally strong, reflected in 12 points (6-6) in nine games. The native of Thunder Bay, ON., has four, multiple-point games in December. Martin is third in club scoring 11 goals and 27 points in 31 games. The runners up are 18 year old goaltender Cole Weaver of the Winkler Flyers and 18 year old defenseman Tristen Cross of the Virden Oil Capitals. Manitoba Pork Peak Performer of the Month Julien Koga of the Steinbach Pistons has been named December’s Pork Peak Performer of the Month. Koga, 19, is in his third season with the Pistons and is enrolled at the University of Manitoba. Julien aspires to be a doctor and is always looking to give back to the community. He is dedicated to helping children and is making a positive impact with a local cancer patient, four-year-old Isaiah Peters. Isaiah has battled cancer for three years and in October, he was the special guest of the Pistons at their ‘Pink in the Rink’ game where he met Julien. Julien and Isaiah spend time reading, talking and playing mini sticks each week. Julien was also involved packing and delivering food hampers to needy families prior to Christmas and is a recent recipient of the RBC ‘Make 150 Count’ program to promote volunteering.
New this season, in addition to the Manitoba Young Guns Series (Bantam Players), the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is going to highlight MJHL Midget Prospects in our MJHL-In the System Series. We will take a look at players who are currently listed by an MJHL team and look to be a big part of that team’s future. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new MJHL-In the System Player Profile bi-weekly on the MJHL website and through MJHL social media platforms. MJHL-In the System Player Profile | Brett Namaka Neepawa Natives Prospect Position: Forward Number: 7 Height: 6’ Weight: 175 Hometown: Winnipeg Team: Winnipeg Wild Brett is the Captain of the Winnipeg Wild in the Manitoba AAA Midget League and currently sits eighth in League Scoring with 16 goals and 18 assists in 26 games. Neepawa Natives General Manager Myles Cathcart on Namaka: "Brett is a two-way forward, very good skater and plays with passion every game. His Hockey IQ is extremely high and he is a leader on and off the ice. He is a well rounded and complete hockey player"
Q: Biggest influence in your hockey career? A: My Mom Q: Most memorable game/moment in your coaching career? A: Winning game 6 of North Division Final in 1995-96 Q: Do you have a coaching mentor? A: Bill Peters- Carolina Hurricanes, Don MacGillivray-Winnipeg Blues Q: If you weren’t involved with hockey, any idea what your occupation would be? A: Baseball coach/manager Q: You’ve been involved with the MJHL for many years. How about a Top 5 favourite players you have coached? A: Kevin Clark, Ryan Garbutt, Brendan Cook, Steve Mullin, Jason Neath Q: Favourite NHL player? A: Bobby Clarke (former captain of the Philadelphia Flyers) Q: Favourite NHL team? A: Winnipeg Jets Q: Favourite songs on your IPod? A: Anything by the Tragically Hip, AC/DC Q: Describe your coaching style? A: Up-Tempo offensive Q: Favourite meal? A: Pizza Q: Favourite actor? A: Bradley Cooper Q: Favourite actress? A: Julia Roberts Q: Other than Winkler, loudest fans in the MJHL? A: OCN Q: Don Cherry: Love him? Don’t like him? A: Love him Q: Go anywhere exciting for summer vacation? A: Florida Q: If you could coach one NHL player … who? A: Steven Stamkos Q: Other than hockey, favourite sports? A: Baseball, golf, football Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world (past or present), who would it be? A: Scotty Bowman Q: Finish this sentence: “If I could change one thing about myself it would be … that I am actually pretty shy, some may not believe that and mistake it for arrogance.” Q: Are you superstitious? And if so, what are some of your rituals? A: Not superstitious Q: Which actor would play you in the “Ken Pearson” movie? A: Kevin James Q: Would that movie be a mystery? Or comedy? A: Comedy
James McIssac of the Portage Terriers has been named to the roster of Team West which will compete in the annual Prospects Game. The game will take place January 25 in Cornwall, ON. "For sure it was a goal of mine heading into this season and a big accomplishment for me,” said McIssac, who hails from Winnipeg. “While its flattering being the only MJHL player picked, it's humbling knowing all the talent in this league. I'm looking forward to the game and catching up with a few familiar names I've played with or against in the past. I'm excited to get there and just play my game and represent the MJHL well." McIssac, 17, is having an excellent season, sitting 10th overall in points in the MJHL with 17 goals and 19 assists averaging just over a point per game. He’s also the youngest player in the top 10 scoring race. McIsaac joined the Terriers earlier this season in a trade with the Winnipeg Blues. "James plays important minutes for us and has a very good combination of skill and grit,” said Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller. The remaining CJHL roster can be seen here. Each of the players chosen to participate in the CJHL Prospects Game were selected through the efforts of NHL Central Scouting and are currently among the top 40 CJHL prospects heading into the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago. The head coaches are Martin Dagenais of the Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL) and Rick Swan of the Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL). “We congratulate each of the players on their selection to compete in the 2017 CJHL Prospects Game in Cornwalland commend NHL Central Scouting for their contributions in helping formalize the Team East and Team West rosters,” offered CJHL President Brent Ladds. “We are confident this group of young men will provide all those in attendance, including the multitude of scouts and Junior A hockey fans alike, a tremendous showcase of CJHL talent from right across the country,” added Ladds. The President's Cup is awarded to the winning team in the CJHL Prospects Game. From 2005 until 2008, the event ran as a single game, but starting in 2009 the President's Cup was played as a two game series where the combined score of the games determined the winner of the title. The contest has now gone back to a single-game format along with on-ice player testing having been introduced. Since its inception, Team West has won six times while Team East has come away victorious on five occasions. All-Time CJHL Prospects Game President's Cup results 2006: Team West 5 Team East 4 (Yorkton, Sask.) 2007: Team West 6 Team East 2 (Vernon, B.C.) 2008: Team East 5 Team West 3 (Winkler, Man.) 2009: Team East 6 Team West 3 (Summerside, P.E.I.) 2010: Team West 8 Team East 3 (8-1, 0-2) (Winkler, Man.) 2011: Team East 9 Team West 2 (2-1 SO, 7-1) (Dauphin, Man.) 2012: Team West 9 Team East 6 (4-3 OT, 5-3) (Langley, B.C.) 2013: Team West 8 Team East 6 (5-0, 3-6) (Digby/Yarmouth, N.S.) 2014: Team East 8 Team West 4 (4-2, 4-2) (Digby/Yarmouth, N.S.) 2015: Team West 3 Team East 2 (Oakville, Ont.)
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent During this Christmas break lull, I always find it interesting to take a look and see how some MJHL alumni are doing. This week, let’s take a look at the first round picks from the 2009 MJHL bantam draft. Some of these players are still playing at a high level, some are not, and unfortunately one is no longer with us. 1. Nikolas Kobelka, Steinbach Pistons. The first-overall pick ended up being a very solid MJHL player. The Beausejour native played three years with the Pistons before ending his junior career with the Swan Valley Stampeders. He had two 20-goal seasons, and had the chance to play in one Western Canada Cup. 2. Brendan Leipsic, Winnipeg Blues. The second overall pick never played a game in the MJHL. Instead he went the WHL route and was a star with the Portland Winterhawks. He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and has six NHL games to his credit. He is playing a big role with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this year. His brother Jeremy is currently playing with the Portage Terriers. 3. Matt Vigier, Swan Valley Stampeders. The third pick overall tragically passed away in a motor vehicle collision not long after being drafted by both the Stampeders and the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors 4. Brayden Cuthbert, Neepawa Natives. The Brandon native opted to start his career in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but played most of his career with the Neepawa Natives and at the end the Dauphin Kings. He played in several high-profile events during his junior career, including an RBC Cup, Western Canada Cup, and Under-17 challenge. 5. Daniel Dunn, Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Dunn was one of those draft picks that just didn’t pan out, as he only ended up playing four games in the MJHL with the Wolverines. 6. Ryan Leonzio, Winkler Flyers. This defenseman from La Salle ended up playing one full year with the Flyers before playing junior B with the Pembina Valley Twisters. He currently plays senior hockey with the Carmen Beavers. 7. Ryan Pulock, OCN Blizzard. The Dauphin/Grandview product is another one of those high picks who never played in the MJHL, opting instead to go the WHL route. He was drafted by the New York Islanders after playing junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Pulock has played 16 NHL games, and splits time between the Islanders and the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 8. Sutton Olson, Dauphin Kings. The Deloraine product had exceptional stats in midget AAA, and got a spot in the annual Under-17 tournament in 2011. But the stats never came in junior, and his junior career pretty much ended when he was traded by the Kings to the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. 9. Colin Beaudry, Swan Valley Stampeders (via Selkirk Steelers). The La Broquerie had a solid MJHL career. He played two years with the Stampeders and two more with the Steinbach Pistons. He was almost a point-a-game player with the Pistons and his top year saw him score 25 goals. 10. Brendan Harms, Portage Terriers. After two solid years (which saw he and the Terriers make the RBC Cup twice), Harms opted to play a year in the USHL before moving on to the NCAA ranks. He is currently in his final year with the Bemidji State Beavers. 11. Brett Stovin, OCN Blizzard (via Winnipeg Saints). His rights were traded to the Winnipeg Blues by the Blizzard and he played half a year in Winnipeg before moving onto the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. Stovin, a native of Stony Mountain, played a couple of ECHL games and is now in his second year with the University of Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team. So as you can see, drafting MJHL players can be a tricky proposition. But it’s an interesting exercise to see who drafted players they played long careers in the MJHL, who moved on to the pro or college ranks, and those who found other interests to pursue. Drafting a 14-year-old can be a tricky game, no doubt about it.
By Derek Holtom MJHL Web Correspondent Christmas is a time for family, festive gatherings, food, and finding out what Santa left you under the tree. It’s also that time of year to sit around the television and take in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. That is, unless you’re one of the chosen few who actually get a chance to take part in one of the most prestigious hockey tournaments in the world – people such as Swan River’s Lasse Petersen. The former Swan Valley Stampeder and son of current Stamps bench boss and general manger Erik Petersen – who was born in Denmark – will rejoin his teammates from Denmark this month as the rising hockey nation continues to cement their position among the other world powers. Petersen, currently a netminder with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, was a member of last year’s team, and is looking forward to his second appearance at the annual Christmas tourney. And for him, there is no bigger stage than the World Juniors. “The atmosphere is a little different,” said Petersen in a telephone interview. “There’s always that pride you have when you’re representing your team, but when you represent your country, there’s a different pride in that. “It’s also a little different – you’re not living in a billet home, you’re living in a hotel, so it’s all run pretty professional,” he added. “There’s also more exposure, because it’s such a popular tournament, with a lot of people watching.” Petersen has moved around a bit to start this season, but he seems to have found the right fit in Red Deer. His start included a brief stop back in Swan River with the Stamps, but through it all, Petersen has been ready to work hard and prepare for the road ahead. “I was trying to stick to my game, and not worry about where I was playing,” he said. “My main focus was to get as much playing time as I could. If it was in the WHL or the MJHL, I’d be fine with that as well. “It was just important to work on my preparation and be ready for (my opportunity).” Petersen has 14 games this year with the Rebels, and feels his game is rounding into shape as the tournament draws near. “I feel pretty good about my game, I’m working on the little things with my goalie coach in Red Deer, and things are working out pretty well – I’m feeling pretty confident,” he noted. And he’ll need that confidence as the World Junior Championship has been known as a launching pad for future NHL stars. One need only look back at last year’s tournament which featured current NHL stars such as Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets), Austin Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Jesse Puljujarvi (Edmonton Oilers) to see the level of competition Petersen will face. “It’s a pretty cool experience – I don’t see there being any fear factor (facing the best junior players), I see it as a chance to play against the best, which is awesome,” said Petersen. “It can make you better, and you can say ‘I played against that guy’. I see it more of an exciting thing than anything else.” And with such tough opposition, it’s always a tough road for smaller yet improving nations such as Denmark. But Petersen said Denmark enters this event expecting a lot out of themselves. “Our main goal last year was to make it to the quarter-finals, and we believe we can do that again this year,” he said. “We have a good group of guys, and a bunch of returning players who are just getting better and better. “I believe we have the players to do it, and I’m pretty sure we can make it to the quarter-finals again.” The journey begins for Denmark on Dec. 26 when they take on Sweden in Montreal. Other teams in their pool include defending champion Finland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. The other pool, which will start their action in Toronto, features Canada, the United States, Russia, Slovakia and Latvia. And with the tournament being held in North America this year, Petersen can expect to have his family in the stands when the puck drops. “My parents just bought their tickets, and my Grandma might be coming as well,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
New this season, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is highlighting upcoming MJHL Prospects from each minor hockey association that supports an MJHL organization along with Brandon and Thompson. The players chosen are all exceptional kids both on-and-off the ice and all have bright futures in the game of hockey. Follow along and share as we release a new Manitoba Young Guns Profile bi-weekly on our website and through our social media platforms. Manitoba Young Guns Series Player Profile – Jackson Betcher Hometown: Swan River Weight: 160 lbs Height: 5’11” Position: D Number: 2 Shoots: Left Team: Parkland Rangers AAA Midget MJHL Rights: Swan Valley Stampeders What kind of player are you? Offensive puck moving defenseman, my skating ability is one of my stronger traits in my opinion Interests/Hobbies: Golf, Quadding Achievements (sport and/or academically): Being Drafted by Red Deer Rebels in 2016 WHL Bantam Draft What are your hockey goals for the future? To keep developing my game each year in moving to the next level whether MJHL, NCAA or WHL. My ultimate goal is a NCAA Scholarship or WHL. Parkland Rangers Head Coach Brad Dupasquier on Jackson: Jackson is a very skilled player whose skating ability and vision are what sets him apart from other players at his position. As a fifteen-year-old defenseman his skill set and positive attitude have vaulted him past the normal learning curve defenseman his age usually fall victim to.
The Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard will officially cease operations at the end of the 2016/2017 hockey season. The OCN Blizzard entered the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for the 1996/1997 season. Over the past 20 years, the OCN Blizzard positively contributed to hockey development of indigenous youth across Canada, and led to the formation of other First Nation hockey teams in Canada. The announcement comes after careful deliberations with Opaskwayak Cree Nation representatives from administration and finance, who presented recommendations to the Opaskwayak Cree Nation leadership. Based on the information presented, the decision was made to proceed with winding down on the operations of the OCN Blizzard, announced officially on December 20, 2016.
The Oil Capitals 2014-2015 Captain, Ben Williams committed to play for Red Deer College Kings hockey program in May 2015. Williams played in a total of 169 games for the Oil Caps during his career and in his last season with the team registered 53 points (28 goals, 25 assists) in 59 games. He was named the Oil Capitals Top Defensive Player in 2014-2015 season, and picked up Most Valuable Player honours. The 22-year-old Souris product is in his second year with the Kings, “My first year of hockey in Red Deer was a lot of fun.” Williams continued, “It went by really quick with a lot of learning experiences.” Williams is currently in the Business Administration Diploma Program, majoring in accounting. The hardest part for Williams is juggling schoolwork along with staying competitive on the ice. “The biggest adjustments that I found was only playing on Fridays and Saturdays and going straight from school to the rink throwing off any game day routines I had in junior.” Last season with the Kings, Williams registered 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in 32 games played and the team had a 16-13-3 record in regular season putting them in fourth in the league. Red Deer College Kings Head Coach, Trevor Keeper said, “In Williams first season with the RDC Kings, he was a third line forward, playing both wing and center. He was an outstanding penalty killer and was a big part of our ‘shut down’ line that played against opposition top lines. He’s such a gritty, competitive guy and that allows him to be used in so many situations.” Williams is the Red Deer College Kings top six forwards this season, “He is seeing power play time as a winger. He’s the straw that stirs the drink on his line and we are looking forward to how well he plays in the second half as we move towards playoffs.” Keeper carried on, “Ben is one of a few players we have from Manitoba (Tanner Butler, Souris; David Heath, Melita; Zak Hicks, Boissevain). We hope to continue bringing Manitoba recruits to Red Deer, as they are character people who are very committed to being successful student-athletes.” This year the Kings are currently, 8-7-1 and at home have a 3-4-1 record. “My second year compared to my first year is a lot more structured as I now know what to expect. The first year taught me to become a lot more organized as it is quite easy to fall behind. Williams continued, “Also, my second year I have put a lot more emphasis on continuing to get stronger in the gym, as the players in this league are more mature and quite a bit bigger than junior.” Williams was named Red Deer College Kings athlete of the week, October 31. He was moved up from defensive line and penalty kill role to the Kings top line and power play. During this week he was one of the Kings top players – he helped them earn a 5-4 win at MacEwan University. Williams also registered two goals in the Saturday game against Penhold Multiplex. Williams helped his team pick up 3 out of 4 points and earning himself the athlete of the week. Oil Capitals Head Coach, Troy Leslie said, “It is not surprising for us to see Ben having success at the next level. His leadership and work ethic are second to none." Playing for the Capitals helped Williams in a lot of aspects, but most importantly by completing his all-around game. “Playing in all situation for the Caps allowed me to fill any role asked of me by my coach out here. This helped me stay in the lineup and continue to improve throughout the season.”
Portage Terriers’ Jeremey Leipsic has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. Leipsic, 19, recorded nine points (3-6) in four games last week. The Winnipegger continues to lead the MJHL scoring race with 18 goals and 59 points. The runners up are 19 year old goaltender Hayden Dola of the Selkirk Steelers and 19 year old forward Ashton Anderson of the Neepawa Natives.
Ty Enns, Major Brenda Coles and Jared Roy pose with the many donations of toys and teddy's to choose from. Do you ever wonder where your donations to the Salvation Army go? How about all those teddy bears from the annual Teddy Bear Toss game. This morning we joined Major Brenda Coles down at our local Salvation Army as it was the second day of pick up for Christmas Hampers. Local families register for a hamper and based on the size of the family, the hampers are put together from small to large. Each family also gets to choose a gift for each member of the family from the many generous donations. Remember all those stuffies we collected! This holiday season Major Coles and the volunteers are helping out 586 families. Jared Roy, Ty Enns and Scott Mickoski were on hand this morning lending a hand and their muscles carrying out the many hampers that were being picked up.
“Awesome!” And in one word, Will Koop pretty much summed up his experience thus far playing for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alberta. “It’s pretty awesome putting on the Team Canada jersey,” said the Steinbach Pistons’ forward. “This is an unreal experience. Playing against some of the best players in the world and other Junior A leagues in Canada. I can’t say much more than awesome.” Koop is one of three MJHLers on Canada West joined by Pistons’ teammate Darby Gula and Riese Gaber of Dauphin Kings. Also representing the MJHL is Kings’ GM/Head Coach Marc Berry, who is an assistant coach with Canada West. Koop, 18, has put behind any jitters and nerves and has shown off his talents thus far with one goal (against Russia) and a penalty shot (missed). “I was actually getting out of the penalty box, and I had a partial breakaway,” Koop said of the penalty shot call. “I got hauled down before I got the shot off. They gave me the penalty shot.” And yeah, he missed. Enough said on that. But the entire tournament experience has left quite the impression on Koop, who hails from Winnipeg. Canada West is pretty much in a must-win situation now if they want to compete for the gold medal. The loss against Russia was a real eye-opener for all the Canada West players. “Unreal speed and skill,” Koop said of the Russian squad. “The game was very fast and intense! There’s a big Canada-Russia rivalry. They were really battling; it was a big win for them.” Aside from the hockey, there’s been the cultural experience for Koop. “Couldn’t understand anything they were saying,” he said of the Russian players. “I know they were chirping us … but we had no idea what they were saying. That whole language thing was really different.” Off the ice, Koop says Canada West spends a lot of team doing team building: which is very important during a short tournament. The quicker teams can bond, this often carries onto the ice with cohesive play. “We do a lot of questions/answer stuff,” he says. “Kind of like a speed-dating. It’s fun. It’s a great experience.” Koop’s roommate is Kyle Betts from the BCJHL (Powell River). Memories from this tournament will be talked about for years. And then, there’s the really important part of the tournament − free stuff! Such as … Team Canada jersey. Dress sweater. Track jacket. Several workout shirts. “Yeah, the free stuff is great,” Koop said with a laugh. “It just feels so cool to put on the Team Canada gear.” While he might be two provinces over, Koop still manages to stay in contact with his Piston buddies, albeit on a limited basis. “They (Canada West team management) want us to stay off our phones and really concentrate on the tournament. “I’ve texted the boys (Pistons) a bit, and kept up to what they’re doing.” It’s been a solid freshman year for Koop, who has 26 points (9-17) in 28 games. The experience of the WJAC will pay huge dividends when he returns back to his Piston pals, and the MJHL. Team Canada West was selected from among the league’s five western Junior A leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). Team Canada West has won gold four times (2006, 2007, 2011 and 2015), captured a silver medal three times (2008, 2009 and 2012) and won bronze in 2013. Team Canada East has won four silver medals (2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011), and took bronze in 2008. Since the first event in 2006, more than 260 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament. The tournament continues all week with the medal round games on the weekend.
Due to blizzard like conditions last week, three games were postponed. Below are the re-scheduled dates. Original Date Visitor Team / Home Team Re-scheduled date Time December 7th Neepawa at Swan Valley January 17th 7:30 pm December 7th OCN at Portage January 18th 7:30 pm December 7th Steinbach at Winkler January 17th 7:30 pm
Trevar Mann of the Swan Valley Stampeders has been named this week’s Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week. The second-year forward from Saskatoon recorded five points (1-4) in two games last week. Mann, 19, was selected first star in one game after a three-point outing. The runners up are 18 year old forward Chase Brakel of the Portage Terriers and 20 year old goaltender Roman Bengert of the Steinbach Pistons.