Brayden Kohlman has taken part in two main camps with the Neepawa Natives and being from McCreary, he has always had a dream to play with the closest junior hockey team to his hometown.

And after a great start to the season with the Parkland U18 Rangers, the McCreary native is one step closer to achieving his dream. He signed his letter of intent to join the team in time for the 2021-22 season. Kohlman's signing continues the trend of U18 Rangers signing their letter of intent as he joins Keaton Ziprick, Hayden Lacquette, and Jayden Jubenvill.

As hockey in the province remains on pause, Brayden says it was a thrill putting pen to paper.

"Absolutely it was, I'm really excited to get going with them," said Kohlman. "They're a great organization and I can't wait for next season."

Kohlman joined the Rangers program back in the 2016-17 season when he suited up for the U15 team and he played two seasons with them, registering 33 points. After taking a year off from AAA hockey, he returned to the program and joined the U18 team last year where he scored 10 times and added 28 assists in his first year as a U18 player. 

And as the playmaker continues to prepare to advance his hockey career, he feels there's no reason why he can't enjoy success.

"I hold myself to a high standard on and off the ice," offered Kohlman. "I just do the right things and I'm looking forward to doing whatever Ken Pearson needs me to do."

In just seven games prior to the pause this season, Kohlman had one goal and 10 assists. His 10 assists are tied for the most in the league and he's tied for seventh in league scoring, alongside his teammate, Trey Sauder. 

"We had a fantastic start to the season and I'm just hoping that I can get back on the ice with my great teammates and coaches," ended Kohlman. "Everyone on the team is rolling and we have a great roster. We want to finish what we started."

The last hockey game played in Manitoba was more than two months ago. 

Last week was full of commitments for the Dauphin Kings and that's how this week has begun as well. 

Brayden Stevenson and Sean Williams -- both 16-years-old -- have signed their letter of intent for the 2021-22 season after they were both very close to making this year's team. 

Dauphin drafted Stevenson in the 2019 MJHL draft, 19th overall while Williams was taken 49th overall. Both players come from Winnipeg and the Rink Hockey Academy program. Stevenson says he works hard wherever the puck is.

"I think of myself as a 200-foot player. I like to get in the dirty areas, play aggressively, throw my body around and set up my teammates," said Stevenson.  "I like to encourage my teammates and get them going too."

In four games prior to the pause, Brayden chalked up one goal and one assist. Williams, meanwhile, was tearing it up with six goals and three assists in just four games. As he showed at Dauphin's main camp back in September, he likes to push things offensively as often as he can.

"I'm a skilled guy and I like to use my speed to my advantage and make plays," offered Williams. "I also think I have a pretty strong hockey IQ."

Williams says he's spent time on his outdoor rink, skating daily and also working out in his home gym since the November pause.

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Standing at 5'10" and 185 pounds, Stevenson adds things have been quiet the last few months, but he's staying active and going to the outdoor rink as much as he can. He says he's looking forward to starting his junior hockey journey. And moving forward into the future, Stevenson has goals.

"My goal is to help the Kings win a championship," ended Stevenson. "After that, I want to secure a scholarship and play hockey in the states, that's been a goal of mine for a long time."

Manitobans are still hoping hockey can resume in the province this season. At this time, the province is still under `Code Red`restrictions for at least the new two and a half weeks. 

Growing up in Wawanesa, Owen Harris spent many nights inside of Westoba Place cheering on the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Some of his favourite memories were going to games with his minor hockey teams as well as watching Ryan Pulock and Ivan Provorov play, just to name a couple.

The young man that played his AAA days with the Southwest Cougars has always wanted to become a Wheat King and in 2019, Harris was eligible to be selected in the WHL Draft.

Prior to the WHL Draft, Harris was selected by the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, 32nd overall. Just about a month later, Brandon came calling. With the 53rd overall pick in the third round, the Wheat Kings selected the Wawanesa native. Owen says it was a dream come true to see his name on the board.

“That was super exciting. Just to be drafted, that meant so much,” said Harris. “I was able to celebrate with my family and I don’t think any of us will forget that day.”

Following his draft year, he remained with the Cougars organization, but he joined the U18 team. In 41 games with one of the top teams in the league, the lockdown defender scored four times and added 13 assists. The team also played five playoff games before the campaign was shut down because of the novel coronavirus.

Swan Valley living:

Owen’s brother, Brian helped the Swan Valley Stampeders advance to the MJHL final in the 2018-19 season. After a 52 point regular season, Harris chalked up another 15 playoff points, but the Stampeders came up just short. In fact, they were one goal away from winning the league title, but Portage scored in overtime to seal the victory and the league title.

Brian is now playing senior hockey with the Wawanesa Jets and his younger brother is following in his footsteps. Owen made Swan Valley this year and he played in eight games, registering one assist. He would have plenty more junior experience under his belt, but the MJHL paused its season in mid-November when Manitoba was put under ‘Code Red’ which doesn’t allow team activities.

Stampeders Head Coach and General Manager, Barry Wolff says Owen has a bright future.

“He’s big, he’s strong, he can skate, and he has a high IQ,” said Wolff. “He’s hard to play against and he loves to get better.”

Manitoba is still under ‘Code Red’ restrictions and although the MJHL is optimistic when it comes to returning to game action as soon as possible, the wait could extend a while longer. And although his time in the valley has been short-lived as of now, Harris can’t wait to get back with his Stampeder teammates.

“I loved playing with the Stampeders,” said Harris. “It’s a great community and the support for the team is incredible.”

While we continue to wait for hockey to resume in Manitoba, it has been an exciting couple of days for Harris. For a very long time, Owen has wanted to play with the Wheat Kings and he has taken another step toward achieving his goal of cracking the WHL team. The Wheat Kings announced that they have signed Owen to a Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement.

“It means a lot to me, I’m really honoured, and grateful,” ended Harris. “I hope to make the best out of it. It’s just one step closer to being a Wheat King one day.”

Wolff added that Harris will be a dynamite defenceman for the Wheat Kings.

“We’re really happy for his whole family, he deserves this,” said Wolff. “He never stops working and that’s what every organization wants.”

The Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League was hoping to get on the ice in the next few weeks. However, that isn't the case after Manitoba extended its restrictions when it comes to recreational sports and facilities in the province.

As a result, the league has sent a letter to the government addressing their concerns.

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"I think there was some optimism within the hockey community for facilities to open, so this is disappointing," said Levi Taylor, Commissioner. "Within the next three weeks, we very well could see some facilities removing their ice."

Taylor says the message extends beyond hockey as well. He continued by saying the league remains committed to salvaging some time of a season; however, there are many question marks on how they would do that.

The restrictions will take us to nearly the middle of February and at that point, the league requires a 10 to 14-day practice period for teams. Games at that point wouldn't begin until late next month.

"We are looking at every option possible and we will do our best to return to the ice when we're allowed to do so," ended Taylor.

The last game played in the province was more than two months ago.

A busy week of commitments has continued for the Dauphin Kings as we head into the weekend. 

On Friday, two players signed their Letter of Intent for next season and both come from the Southwest Cougars in Andrew Andries and Nolan Wickham. Both played eight games with the Cougars this season before the campaign was put on pause in November and hockey activities remain suspended in the province. 

Wickham had three goals and two assists when things stopped. In the previous season, the Waskada product tallied seven goals and 19 assists in 46 contests. He was originally drafted by the Kings in the 4th round (35th overall) of the 2018 MJHL Draft.

Nolan says he prides himself on his play at both ends of the ice.

"I would say I'm a solid two-way defenceman. I'm reliable on the D side but I can also contribute offensively as well," said Wickham. "My height has helped me for sure and I've been buffing up during the off-seasons so hopefully, I can fit in well in the league."

As he continues to prepare for camp in the fall with Dauphin, Wickham's goal is to improve every day. He says making the Kings is his ultimate goal.

"Ever since the organization drafted me, I've been thinking about it all the time," he continued. "It's what I want and I will do anything to make this team."

Andrew Andries:

He had three assists this season when it was put on pause and last year, he scored seven times and added 14 assists. From Killarney, Andrew loves to score, but play on his own end is something he focuses on.

"I'm a two-way forward that likes to take care of his own end first," offered Andries. "I like to go to the dirty areas, I'm a pass-first kind of guy and I like to stick up for my teammates."

Although he can't be with his teammates at his time, Andrew says he's been staying sharp on his family's outdoor rink alongside his brother. 

"We've also got an at-home gym here that we've been using a lot," said Andries. "I'm hoping to come into Dauphin and try and make a difference then maybe down the road, I can get some schooling out of it as well."

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Andrew and Nolan join Keaton Ziprick, Hayden Lacquette, and Jayden Jubenvill, all of which also signed their intent letters earlier this week. 

It was an exciting start to the week for the Dauphin Kings when Keaton Ziprick signed his Letter of Intent to join the team for the 2021-22 season. And the week of excitement for the organization has continued as Hayden Lacquette and Jayden Jubenvill have also signed their Letter of Intent for next season.

That means three current Parkland Rangers have signed their letters in the past few days as the entire province remains in pause mode when it comes to hockey activities. Doug Hedley commented on the commitment of both Lacqette and Jubenvill.

"Any time you can get that kind of a push with that kind of talent from underneath in your system, it's a great time for the organization," he said. "These two players will contribute a lot to where we're heading in the coming years."

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Jubenvill is the captain of this year's Rangers team and he was off to a great start prior to the pause -- with his nine points -- three of which were goals in seven games. In 88 games prior to this year with the team, Jubenvill tallied 16 goals and 29 assists. He was originally selected by the Kings 26th overall in the 3rd round of the 2018 MJHL Draft. He says it'll be a good fit with the familiarity considering he's played a lot of his hockey at Credit Union Place.

Hedley talked about what Jayden will bring to the team.

"He sees the ice very well and he's always competing," said Jubenvill. "He has talent, he skates well, and he's very versatile. He's someone we want in our organization and he will be very good for us."

Lacquette had four goals and five assists prior to the pause and he scored 19 goals while adding 22 assists in 93 contests prior to this season with Parkland. The Dauphinite says he models his game after Brady Keeper who is on the Florida Panthers taxi squad this season. 

Hedley says Lacquette never stops working and that he will be a great addition to the team.

"He has a very good skill set and he makes some great plays," ended Hedley. "He has that patience that you can't teach."

More exciting news from the team is expected in the coming days.

There will be no more curling this winter in Dauphin, even when the province allows the sport to take place.

President of the Dauphin Curling Club, Morgan Kropelnicki says a decision was made to cancel the remainder of the season, including bonspiels as Manitoba remains under 'Code Red' restrictions.

The ice at the DCC will be taken out as the focus shifts to preparing for next fall and another season. Kropelnicki says it wasn't an easy decision, but everyone involved in the meeting agreed that it was the right thing to do.

"The most important thing is the club member's safety and we just don't feel it's the safe decision to get people back on the ice when possible," said Kropelnicki. "We also weren't sure if we were going to lose some teams as well. We're looking forward to coming back next fall."

'Code Red' is slated to come to an end on Friday evening, but in a release on Tuesday, it doesn't appear that the government is looking at re-opening recreational facilities at this point. The last curling game played in Dauphin was more than two months ago. 

While the MJHL is on pause, the Dauphin Kings have some exciting news to share as Keaton Ziprick has signed a Letter of Intent. That means Dauphin has added the Russell goaltender for 2021-22.

Ziprick is in his final year of AAA hockey with the Parkland Rangers where he has played 51 games in the past two years. He will join a team next year that drafted him three years ago.

"It's a special feeling. It's a great organization and they have treated me very well," said Ziprick. "Getting that chance to play in that game last year was a great experience."

It was Wednesday, October 16, and Ziprick suited up for Dauphin as they played the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Growing up in Russell, Ziprick watched many Wolverines games in the past. Playing as a backup to Matthias Smith, Keaton got the call just more than 31 minutes into the game when Smith went down with an injury.

Hugo Laflamme scored in overtime that game as Dauphin won 6-5 which gave Keaton his first-ever MJHL win. 

Keaton Ziprick October 17

Keaton made 12 saves in the game.

"It wasn't my best performance but just to get that chance, it was eye-opening," said Ziprick. "I still remember the celebration, it was a great thing to be a part of."

While hockey has been on pause in the province, Keaton has been staying sharp on his outdoor rink with his brother, Aiden. The veteran goalie was off to a tremendous start with Parkland as he was 5-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average to go along with a .944 save percentage. 

Parkland is 6-1 and when hockey activities resume in the province, the team will enter the restart in first place. 

"We have a really strong team this year, and everyone is on the same page, we want to win," ended Ziprick. "I know everyone is going to bring that same momentum when we start up again and some exciting times are on the way."

Fun fact:

Ziprick was taken in the 6th round (57th overall) by the Kings in the 2018 MJHL Draft. He is the first Dauphin Kings drafted goalie to join the club since Brian Archibald (2009 Draft) did so back in 2012.

The Yellowhead Chiefs beat the Norman Northstars back on November 8, 2020. That was the last time a Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League game was played. All games as of November 12 were postponed when Manitoba was put under 'Code Red' restrictions which put a halt to team sports activities across the province.

'Code Red' restrictions are set to come to an end on Friday evening and government officials have indicated that some restrictions could be eased. This doesn't mean sports will be allowed back, but if they do, the league remains committed to coming back.

Levi Taylor, Commissioner of the league says the goal is to get every team back on the ice.

"Our plan is to resume practices as soon as facilities open and we would do that for a 10 to 14-day window," said Taylor. "At that point, if permitted, we would continue with regular-season action."

If the season is able to resume in early February, Taylor says the league would extend the season with playoffs running into May, if need be. 

There were just 66 games played combined between all member teams with the Kenora Thistles having played zero while the Winnipeg Wild played just two. The Parkland Rangers played seven games -- six of which they won -- as they sit atop the league. 

When formulating their original plan, every team was scheduled to play a 36 game schedule with a good chunk of games coming in divisional play. Taylor says the most important thing is health and safety and when it is deemed safe to do so, the development of players is critical as the league hopes to return in the near future.

"We want to provide the players with an opportunity to develop, if possible," ended Taylor. 

The first game of a two-game set has gone to Denver.

Riese Gaber and the rest of the North Dakota Fighting Hawks came up short in a 4-1 loss on Sunday night. 

Gaber was held off the scoresheet and the teams will play again on Monday night. 

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed star running back Andrew Harris to a one-year contract extension.

The Winnipeg native returns to the Blue Bombers for a fifth season.

The 33-year-old Harris has led the CFL in rushing the past three years. He was named the game MVP and most valuable Canadian in Winnipeg's Grey Cup win over Hamilton in 2019.

During the 2019 season, Harris passed Ben Cahoon to become the CFL's career leader in yards from scrimmage by a Canadian. He also moved past Normie Kwong as the Canadian career rushing leader.

A five-time CFL all-star, Harris also was named the league's most outstanding Canadian in 2017.