By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
Despite being one of the younger players in the MJHL this season, Chase Brakel is playing like a seasoned veteran. The Portage Terriers’ forward, who just turned 18 years old on December 1st, finished second overall the league scoring race with 80 points: 20 points back of teammate Jeremey Leipsic, who won the Mike Ridley Trophy.
Brakel and Leipsic are now in an exciting playoff battle with Selkirk Steelers. (Full playoff schedule can be seen here.)
Routinely paired with the leading scorer in the league – that being Jeremy Leipsic – Brakel is part of a lethal one-two combo that has combined for more than 100 points so far this season.
“Obviously I’m doing pretty good this season, and it helps playing regularly with my line mate (Leipsic) – we have good chemistry together,” said Brakel, a Winnipeg native. “We’ve really been clicking this year.”
The 5’10, 175-pound forward added the third member of that line can change depending on the situation and who head coach Blake Spiller wants out on the ice with them.
And despite only recently turning 18 years old, Brakel says he doesn’t feel out of place or intimidated on the ice playing against players much older and sometimes larger than he is.
“I don’t really notice it out there,” he said. “Being a year or two younger than some of the guys at the top of the scoring lead, I don’t think it affects me too much. I just try to go out there and play my game, and try to help the team win. That’s the focus.”
Brakel has the good fortune of drawing on last year’s deep, championship playoff run by the Terriers. Playoff experience is invaluable come this time of the year.
“We have a really good chance this year, just like last year,” said Brakel, who wants to play NCAA Division One hockey when he’s done his junior career.
And if the name Brakel sounds familiar, it should – his grandfather Hank Brakel was a general manager with St. Boniface Saints back in the 1990s, winning a league championship in the 1993-94 season on a team coached by Bruce Schmidt and led on the ice by the likes of Kane Chaloner, Derek Rigaux, and future CAJHL player of the year Cory Cyrenne.
The younger Brakel is hoping to continue that championship tradition.