Playoff Eve: spotlight shines on veterans

The Turnbull Cup Playoffs officially get underway across the Manitoba Junior Hockey League on Friday with three of the four series hitting the ice.

The Dauphin Kings and Swan Valley Stampeders; meanwhile, have to wait one more day as they open their best-of-seven on Saturday evening at Credit Union Place. So that means it’s ‘Playoffs Eve’ for the two Parkland teams in the league.

While we wait for the puck to drop tomorrow, we’ll take this time to highlight our players that will graduate after this season and it’s fitting that we start with our captain.

Parker Malchuk:

He’s the league’s top defenseman and a first-team all-star. Parker has been a great leader for the team this season and his versatility allows him to not only play lockdown defense in his own end but his offensive capabilities are certainly noteworthy. In 50 games this season, the Birtle native scored 12 goals and added 33 assists. Simply put for Parker, playoff time is the most exciting time of the year.

“This is what you play for, you play to get an opportunity to be in the playoffs,” said Malchuk. “Everyone in the dressing room is extremely motivated and we’re ready for this challenge.”

Kaden Bryant:

He’s a former forward of the year in the Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League. When the 20-year-old sniper from Winnipeg has the puck on his tape, it’s very hard to stop him. The all-star scored 36 times which put him atop the league in goal scoring and his 75 points were the second-most in the league, only behind Justin Svenson of the Winkler Flyers. (to note, Winkler opens their playoffs Friday night on home ice against the Blues). Playing on a line with Nick Braun and Nakodan Greyeyes, the three have become one of the top trios in the league and Bryant is as motivated as ever to keep producing to help this team win.

Nakodan Greyeyes:

Speaking of Greyeyes, he’s next. Also from Winnipeg, Nakodan started his season in the North American Hockey League with the Austin Bruins. He decided to return at the trade deadline to the team he scored 24 times with and had 50 assists with just two years ago. Nakodan played 21 games to end the season, scoring nine times and adding 20 assists. A speedster with great hands and a great shot, Greyeyes is an elite talent and if Dauphin has success in the playoffs, you can expect the 20-year-old to be front and centre.

Logan Calder:

He only knew the Portage Terriers for the first few years of his junior career. Now he’s playing for a new team and living outside of his hometown for the first time. Calder is another player with elite offensive talent, one of the most impressive traits Calder possesses is his ability to keep the puck on his stick. Calder wins more battles than he loses and competes at an extremely high level whenever he is on the ice.  Logan averaged just more than a point-per-game with the Terriers to begin the season (33 points in 31 games) and he’s averaging exactly a point-per-game with Dauphin, scoring six times and adding 16 assists in 22 games.

Colby Jaquet:

He’s a second-team all-star and recently, just announced his future plans. Following this year, Colby will make his way to Saskatoon to join the Saskatchewan Huskies who play in the Canada West conference as a part of Canadian University Sport. Jaquet led the league in scoring this year among defenseman as he had three assists in the team’s regular season against the Freeze to leap frog Lonan Bulger of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines (to note, the Wolverines open their playoffs on home ice Friday night when they welcome the Virden Oil Capitals to town). Known to look for the stretch pass — and connect more than most that try — Jaquet’s hockey IQ allows him to have success at both ends of the ice. He had 50 assists this season and 12 goals.

Cordell Coleman:

He hasn’t necessarily been known as a scorer throughout his junior career but something changed at the trade deadline. Coleman recorded a hat-trick against the Wolverines at the Arena Complex during the second half of the season and he’s starting to get more looks in great scoring areas. Cordell will do whatever it takes to help the team win hockey games and on nights when the Kings are firing on all cylinders on the penalty kill, Coleman is usually front and centre. Ironically enough, Dauphin’s first round opponent will be Cordell’s former team as Dauphin opens a best-of-seven against Swan Valley on Saturday. Following a eight-game stint with Drayton Valley to begin his junior days, he played eight games with Swan Valley before he was acquired by the Kings. In all, Coleman has scored six times this season and has eight assists.

Mathew Rathbone:

He was playing some very solid hockey before he went down with an injury against Swan Valley in the first half of the season. He missed a sizeable amount of time but he’s now back in the lineup in the top six and he’s definitely proving to be a thorn in the sides of his opponents. An offensively gifted player that plays with an edge, Rathbone is a tough player to stop and getting him off the puck is a tall task. Mathew has played just 14 games with Dauphin this season but he has 10 goals and 16 points overall. He’s a definite player to watch in the playoffs and they begin Saturday.

Klim Georgiev:

He still has a handful plus a couple of games left on his suspension and no matter how long the first series goes, Georgiev won’t be eligible to return to the lineup. Georgiev scored the game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Blues way back on November 24, he has two other goals this season and 14 assists. Standing at 6 foot 4, it’s tough to get past Georgiev when he’s in the lineup and he is certainly a valuable piece to the team’s puzzle. He’s also super personable so if you ever have a chance to have a chat with the Toronto native, you probably should. For now, he’ll be in the stands cheering on the Kings as they open their playoffs Saturday. The 20-year-old started his season with the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League.