The 2022-23 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season is right around the corner with opening night across the league slated for Friday, September 16.
That's when the Swan Valley Stampeders open their campaign with a home-and-home against the OCN Blizzard, first at the Centennial Arena. Barry Wolff will return as the team's head coach and general manager. He's just a few years removed from leading the team to the MJHL final and their most successful season in franchise history.
Joining Barry this season will be Dakota Mason who is very familiar with winning championships. The Stampeders have announced that Mason has become the team's new assistant coach. Living in Edmonton, Dakota is thrilled to be joining the Stampeder organization.
"I find myself very fortunate to have this opportunity," said Mason. "To learn and grow under Barry Wolff is something I don't take for granted. There are a lot of people that would love to be in my shoes."
Dakota had quite an illustrious junior career. He played with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League from 2011 to 2013 and won a league championship in both seasons. After winning the first title, the team took on the Penticton Vees in the Doyle Cup and came up short. Dedicated and determined to advance to the national championship in his 20-year-old season, Mason took things up a notch, recording 67 points in the regular season, another seven in the playoffs and then two in the Western Canada Cup. Ultimately, the team did make the RBC Cup where they ended up winning a national title.
Dakota knows firsthand the grind of what it takes to be a champion and he's looking forward to bringing that to Swan River.
"The amount of dedication and hard work that goes into making the next level, I saw that firsthand when we lost that series against Penticton," said Mason. "We weren't as serious as we need to be. Then we came back the next year and we put in the extra work and it resulted in a national championship. There are no shortcuts to success and that's what I want to pass off to our players."
Six years after winning a title with the team, Dakota was back in Brooks for the 2019 event where the Bandits won and they also won the Centennial Cup this season back in May when they downed the Pickering Panthers in the final.
"It's what you come to expect with Brooks, they have built a really strong program," said Mason. "With that said, I've already been messaging some of the members in that organization to let them know that Swan Valley is coming."
Following his time with Brooks, he played one season of Division 3 hockey with SUNY-Plattsburgh and most recently, he was an associate coach with the Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.