One of the most popular annual events for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League hits the ice in Winnipeg this weekend, as all 11 clubs will participate in the 12th annual Old Dutch/MJHL Showcase.
For the Neepawa Natives, they will play against the Virden Oil Capitals on Friday, Oct. 2 at 3:00 pm at the MTS IcePlex. The following afternoon, Neepawa plays a ‘home game’ against the Winkler Flyers. That matchup will also start at 3:00 pm.
MJHL commissioner Kim Davis said that this weekend is always very well attended by scouts from throughout Canada and the United States.
“The league has personally invited 60 NCAA Division I schools to our showcase weekend,” said Davis. “We’ll see scouts from a number of high-profile colleges, of note the University of North Dakota and University of Western Michigan. Based on the feedback received, we are expecting a solid turnout.”
Also expected to attend are scouts from several Division III schools, in addition to NHL teams, including Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Pittsburgh.
Neepawa Natives coach Jim Fuyarchuk said playing in the Showcase will give his players an extra spark of energy. He noted that it is very important for the coaching staff to keep them focused on the task at hand: winning games.
“We can’t treat this event any differently than a standard home or road game. We have a routine that we need to go through before we set foot on the ice. We’ve been very focused in practice and that’s not going to change, whether it’s the Showcase, our upcoming game in Carberry [on Friday, Oct. 9], or a regular home game,” said Fuyarchuk. “It is a chance to see some of the other teams in action and we will try to take some time out for that, but it’s really all about focusing our players. They can’t be distracted by everything going on around them. [The players] are going to get a chance to display their skills to scouts from many different leagues, but these are still very important league games that we have keep focused on.”
The Old Dutch/MJHL Showcase Weekend kicks off Thursday, Oct. 1 at the MTS IcePlex with Waywayseecappo Wolverines taking on Selkirk Steelers.
After the Showcase wraps up, Neepawa returns home to the Yellowhead Centre on Sunday, Oct. 4 to play the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Opening faceoff is set for 6:30 pm.