Neepawa Natives shift focus to regular season

The Neepawa Natives are putting the finishing touches on its lineup for the start of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season. 

The club begins the year on Friday, Sept. 25 in Dauphin. The first home game at the Yellowhead Centre is on the following night, also against the Dauphin Kings. 

Natives head coach Jim Fuyarchuk said they’ll likely be taking to the ice over the weekend with a few players still recovering from pre-season injuries.

“There are a few bumps and bruises that we are dealing with. These types of things are expected as the intensity of the exhibition season goes on. All the teams narrowed down their lineups and it made for better games,” noted Fuyarchuk. “Overall, I don’t think we’re in a bad situation, physically. We’re just waiting for some confirmation on a couple players to find out their status. During the final pre-season games against Winkler, I know that Josh Blondeau took a bad check from behind. We’re just waiting for him to heal up and get a few stitches out. We remain hopeful that, by the opening weekend, he’ll be ready to go. As well, John McCammon recently took a knock to the nose and has a broken nose. He’s having a little bit of difficulty breathing, but he’ll be up and going for the start of the season. Other than that, we have just a few minor bumps and bruises a few players are dealing with, but nothing that is significant.”

Fuyarchuk added that despite dealing with a few minor injuries, the Natives will still be able to ice a very skilled roster, it’s only a case of the players finding that right chemistry with their linemates.

“We’re still assessing our hockey club and exactly where our strengths are. Heading into the regular season, we are on a steep learning curve and we need to learn in a hurry how to play together. As a team, we need to be prepared and a lot of that has to be done in practice. The start of the season is going to be very hectic, with the MJHL Showcase [in Winnipeg] and our game in Carberry [on Friday, Oct. 9], I’m confident however, that we’ve assembled a good group of players who are focused during practice and are getting things together.”