The 2016-2017 MJHL season holds plenty of promise for the OCN Blizzard Now that the OCN Blizzard have been eliminated from the 2016 Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoffs, OCN Blizzard staff can now turn their attention to what the hockey club will look like when the 2016-17 season rolls around next September.
April 5, 2016 PHOTO: All Star Defenseman Brady Keeper will be one of the key pieces back next season to help lead the OCN Blizzard
“Overall the 2015-16 season was a good season the OCN Blizzard, both on and off the ice. The team ended the season with 4 regular season players who were in the Blizzard lineup the previous season, finishing in 6th place and earned a playoff position, including one win in their playoff series against Winkler.
The OCN Blizzard team saw first-hand how much improvement we still have to make in the coming season to beat teams like the Flyers. We have not played many playoff games in the past three years, so gaining some valuable post-season experience this season was very beneficial to our young squad. This season club was tied with youngest team we have iced since joining the league 20 years ago with an average age of 18.67 years old. Our staff were proud of the leadership our entire team showed throughout the season."
Who have moved on? Forwards – Logan Harland (95 pts), Colin Woods (20 pts), Tre Potskin (5 pts) and Bryce MacInnis (13 pts). Defenceman – Camacho Lathlin (18 pts) We can’t say enough good things about our 20-year-old players this past season. Each one of them gave us everything they had to give – right to the last minute of the last game – they never gave up.
They were great on the ice, in the dressing room and good ambassadors in the community. The pride these guys had for the OCN Blizzard was unquestionable and leadership traits left behind for our young guys is very evident. Our returning guys will now follow in the footsteps these leaders left behind.
If the season started today, the Blizzard squad currently will have 5 future 20-year-olds on their roster for the 2016-17 season. The upcoming group of 20-year-olds include, defensemen Brady Keeper, Taran Lacquette, Adam Heinemann and Maverick Rafter, and forward Jeremy Dumont. The staff is confident these new 20s have the experience and skill to lead the Blizzard.
The OCN Blizzard are solid between the pipes for next season as both returning goalies are 19 year-olds and both displayed strong performances during the 2015-16 season. Most Valuable Player in the playoffs, Emillee Boily proved he can handle a heavy work load this season as he started 44 of the club’s games and put up a .911 save percentage while turning away 1624 shots this season.
Back-up goaltender Brett Epp proved to be a great teammate and earn the most popular player award last season. Epp’s .902 save percentage is nothing to look down on and expect a battle for the starting position between the pipes this coming fall during training camp.
The Blizzard should be strong up front to start the 2016-17 season as point per game sniper Dumont returns for his 20 year old season. The supporting cast will have 19 year old forwards Roulette (25 pts), A Keeper (20 pts), Valiquette (15 pts), Scales (12 pts), Hiebert (11 pts), Campbell (10 pts), following up with 18 year olds Bullard and Anderson.
Our rookie forwards had an outstanding year and really turned the corner after the Christmas break. A. Keeper showed his defensive skills and really grabbed on to the role as the season progressed. Hiebert will continue to be a fan favorite. He plays like he is 6’5” and 250 lbs and is dangerous at all times. Valiquette was another player that really made an impact after Christmas and we expect him to fill a big role in 2016-17 season.
With six returning veteran defencemen, B. Keeper, Lacquette, Derynck, Yaremko, Rafter and Heinemann, the Blizzard appear to be solid on the back end. Our defense will be where we build from going into 2016-17 season. “The Blizzard team will have one of the top D Corps in the league and our focus will be to get balance on the blue line while building more depth up front.
As the Blizzard hold a strong list of prospects and this coming weekend, these up and coming OCN Blizzard players will be showing their stuff in the GLMC. The OCN Blizzard have the spring camp scheduled this year for April 8-10.
A season tickets drive for next season will take place in the upcoming months with special discounted pricing. Contact the OCN Blizzard Office at 204-627-7077 for details. Stay connected with the Blizzard at ocnblizzard.com, or on Facebook (OCN Blizzard) and on Instagram and Twitter (@ocnblizzard).