Dillon Birch was eight games into his second and final season with the Yellowhead U18 Chiefs this year when the season was put on pause in mid-November.

Now, the 17-year-old from Neepawa is waiting for Manitoba to get out of 'Code Red' so he can join his teammates once again.

Birch has played 60 games with Yellowhead over the course of the past two seasons. Last year, the team won 32 games and they were one of the favourites to win the league when it was ultimately cut short because of the novel coronavirus.

As the wait continues to get back on the ice this season, Birch has loved every minute of playing with Yellowhead.

"It's been great. We have great coaches and a great group of guys," said Birch. "Playing at the highest level gives me a chance to develop, and I'm thrilled to be a Chief."

Dillon scored 11 goals last season, he added 25 assists and he sniped two more goals this season in eight games before the province-wide shutdown. Yellowhead is 4-3-1 this season and that puts them in third place.

"I think it was an okay start. We have a lot of new faces on our team this year, so it's about getting to know everyone, and building that chemistry," said Birch. "We were looking forward to making a push and I believe we have a strong team."

During the league-wide pause, Dillon has been working out a lot and he's also been skating on Lake Irwin. 

Staying home:

Dillon grew up watching the Neepawa Natives and the organization protected the 17-year-old a couple of years back at the MJHL Draft. On January 12, Dillon rang in the New Year by signing his Letter of Intent to join the team for the 2021-22 MJHL season. 

"It's a really exciting time for me, it's something I've always dreamt about," said Birch. "I'm excited to further my hockey career with a great organization and staff."

Although he plays all of his home games in Shoal Lake and has for the past few seasons, Dillon's parents have still made it out to many games. With that said, with Dillon playing for his hometown team, that means his family will be at every game and his friends will also get the chance to watch him play for the MJHL club. 

And as he looks forward to next year, that's something he can't wait for.

"That's going to be awesome. Playing in my hometown has always been a goal of mine," ended Birch. "I grew up watching this team and to get the chance to play with them, that would mean everything."

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