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MJHL 2015-16 Season Preview + Power Rankings

September 23, 2015
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The MJHL’s Portage Terriers won the RBC Cup last season. Image via Hockey Canada & Andy Devlin

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season opens up this Friday across the province with most teams kicking off home-and-home series against each other.

When it comes to the Dauphin Kings they’ll host the Neepawa Natives Friday night at Credit Union Place (7:00pm) and then go to Neepawa on Saturday (7:30pm). Both contests can bear heard on 730 CKDM with the Pre Game Show kicking off about 15 minutes before each puck drop. Friday’s home opener is FREE for the public to attend, you just have to go down to the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy and pick up your FREE tickets! I would suggest getting to the game early on Friday, because the Kings usually put on a special player introduction ceremony before every home opener.

Below are the MJHL Power Rankings for the start of the regular season. These rankings will be posted weekly to the MJHL’s website, I’ll also post them here on my blog every week. This time I am posting the Power Rankings and going a little more in depth. You’ll see how they’ll normally look on mjhlhockey.ca later this week!

POWER

MJHL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 1

flyers1

1. Winkler Flyers (Last year: 31-17-12 – 4th)

With a lot of players returning from last season, including the reigning Manitoba Junior Hockey League MVP Tristan Keck, the Winkler Flyers will be a very good team during the 2015-16 campaign. Last year the Flyers had one of the best lines in the MJHL, two thirds of that unit is set to return. A lot of clubs in the MJHL will be putting a new goaltender between the pipes this season. Winkler is one of those teams. They acquired Ryan Larochelle from the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL in the summer. His numbers in nine games with the Broncos were ok.

GRADES

Forwards – A
Defence – B+
Goaltending – B

Schedule this week: @ Steinbach on Friday & vs. Steinbach on Saturday

stb

2. Steinbach Pistons (Last year: 39-14-7 – 2nd)

Another team that may have a question mark in the goal crease to start the season are the Steinbach Pistons. However if Steinbach can get their goalie situation in check they’ll be back near the top of the standings for another year. It may be a feeling out process for the first couple weeks of the regular season. With their offensive fire power, Steinbach might not need really good goaltending to win games some nights.

GRADES

Forwards – A
Defence – B+
Goaltending – B

Schedule this week: vs. Winkler on Friday & @ Winkler on Saturday

Virden_Oil_Capitals_Logo

3. Virden Oil Capitals (Last year: 30-20-10 – 5th)

The Virden Oil Capitals are entering their fourth season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The team has taken some solid steps each year. If their pace continues they should easily be inside the top five this time around. The problem with the Oil Capitals roster is the fact that they are solid in every position, but they don’t have anyone that stands out significantly. Perhaps that will change as the year moves forward. Virden, in my opinion, has the best defensive core in the MJHL going into the year.

GRADES

Forwards – B
Defence – A
Goaltending – B+

Schedule this week: vs. Portage on Friday & @ Portage on Sunday

DauphinKings

4. Dauphin Kings (Last year: 23-31-6 – 9th)

The Dauphin Kings return a lineup of strong forwards and D-men with a lot of potential. Familiarity will be big in helping the Kings get off to a good start this season. Expect Dauphin to be one of the top three scoring teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this year.

GRADES

Forwards – A
Defence – B
Goaltending – B

Schedule this week: vs. Neepawa on Friday & @ Neepawa on Saturday

Portage_Terriers

5. Portage Terriers (Last year: 53-3-4 – 1st)

After winning the national championship last year the Portage Terriers will begin a bit of a rebuilding process this year. However, with players like Brad & Shawn Bowles returning and Blake Spiller at the helm, Portage will still be one of the better teams in the MJHL this season. I would expect the Terriers to get off to a bit of a slow start, but finish strong down the stretch. The CJHL ranked Portage at 3rd to start the new hockey season. It’s understandable in my opinion, Portage did just win the national championship.

GRADES

Forwards – B+
Defence – B-
Goaltending – B-

Schedule this week: @ Virden on Friday & vs. Virden on Sunday

Winnipeg_Blues

6. Winnipeg Blues (Last year: 38-15-7 – 3rd)

Following a handful of successful seasons over the last couple years the Winnipeg Blues might take a little step back this season. They do have the potential for a lot of good returning forwards, but after that the team’s power is not as good as it has been over the last couple years. At least for now. I’d put Winnipeg in the same category as Portage, they might get off to a slow start but will likely finish strong by the time the campaign comes to a close. The CJHL gave the Winnipeg Blues and honourable mention on the CJHL Top 20 Rankings.

GRADES

Forwards – B+
Defence – C+
Goaltending – B

Schedule this week: @ Selkirk on Friday & vs. Selkirk on Saturday

way

7. Waywayseecappo Wolverines (Last year: 24-31-5 – 8th)

After winning their first ever playoff series last year the Waywayseecappo Wolverines return a lot of solid players to the mix. Wayway will once again be a very hardworking club that gets under other team’s skin. This could be a good year for the Wolverines if things fall into place. I can see them finishing as high as sixth, or as low as ninth.

GRADES

Forwards – B
Defence – B
Goaltending – C+

Schedule this week: vs. Swan Valley on Saturday

sel

8. Selkirk Steelers (Last year: 29-29-2 – 7th)

Selkirk enters the 2015-16 campaign with a young team. A lot of key veteran players left the Steelers last season, leaving open slots available at camp this year. However, with some additions in the off season you can expect Selkirk to be competitive and push for a top six spot. The CJHL ranked Selkirk 18th in the country ahead of this season. I honestly have no idea what they’re basing this on. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens…

GRADES

Forwards – B-
Defence – B
Goaltending – B-

Schedule this week: vs. Winnipeg on Friday & @ Winnipeg on Saturday

swn

9. Swan Valley Stampeders (Last year: 28-26-6 – 6th)

Their defensive core will be strong, but the Swan Valley Stampeders have lack fire power, at least to start the season, on the offensive side of the puck following the departure of Tristan Mullin to the BCHL. Forward Carter Johnson and goaltender Graham Hunt have gone south. With younger players coming into the mix on the offensive side of the puck, I’d say you can expect growing pains this year for the Swan Valley Stampeders.

GRADES

Forwards – B-
Defence – B
Goaltending – C+

Schedule this week: vs. OCN on Friday & @ Wayway on Saturday

ocn

10. OCN Blizzard (Last year: 20-35-5 – 10th)

The OCN Blizzard enter their 20th season continuing the rebuild they started last year. The Blizzard might not begin the season hot, but they could end up being a dark horse when the campaign comes to an end in March. It all depends on the amount of tweaking they do moving forward.

GRADES

Forwards – B
Defence – C+
Goaltending – B-

Schedule this week: @ Swan Valley on Friday

neep

11. Neepawa Natives (Last year: 15-42-3 – 11th)

After failing to make the playoffs for the fifth straight year the Neepawa Natives will try to break that streak this year. It might be tough as the team goes young and looks to create chemistry for years to come.

GRADES

Forwards – C+
Defence – C+
Goaltending – C+

Schedule this week: @ Dauphin on Friday & vs. Dauphin on Saturday

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