The first-ever MJHL/SJHL Showcase took place in Regina this past Monday and Tuesday, with 60 players from each league and 3 teams being selected to face-off against one another.
The Pistons sent 13 players to represent the MJHL across the three teams. Austin Heidemann, Riese Gaber, Declan Graham, and goalies Matt Radomsky and Matthew Thiessen were on Team Garbutt, a team made up of players from the years 1999-2000. Jaret Lalli and Darby Gula represented Team Zajac, one of the two teams made up ’97 and ’98 aged players. Bradley Schoonbaert, Drew Worrad, Will Koop, Daniel McKitrick, Tyson McConnell, and Mark Wilson were placed onto Team Belfour.
“The inaugural Showcase with the SJHL was a very positive event for both leagues in many ways,” said Kevin Saurette, Director of Operations for the MJHL. “Most importantly it allowed our athletes the chance to showcase themselves in a highly competitive environment in front of many scouts and coaches from all levels.”
Head Coach Paul Dyck and Pistons trainer Jeff Eidse also made the trek to Regina as part of Team Garbutt. “I enjoyed being able to connect face-to-face with many of the coaches I have built relationships with via phone conversations over the past few years,” Dyck said. “I thought our players represented our league, the Pistons, and themselves very well. It was an opportunity for them to grow as player and see first-hand where they may stack up against their peers.”
Will Koop was part of Team Belfour, and he picked up an assist in the first game on a Drew Worrad goal. “The games had high tempo and were very competitive. It felt like a playoff game out there,” he explained. “It was also nice to meet guys from the other teams you play against.”
Riese Gaber was named Player of the Game for Team Garbutt in game #1, and he found it to be a great experience. “I think it went really well for everyone, and I was glad to be a part of it.” Gaber said.
Both Koop and Gaber talked about the unique aspect of this style of event, playing with the players that they line up against every day in the MJHL. “You don’t get time to practice with them, so you have to try and find chemistry right away,” Gaber explained.
“We were able to build chemistry pretty quick just through communicating on and off the ice,” Koop said. “It was definitely a little different than playing with my usual teammates.”
Considering this was the first time this game has been run, Saurette called it an immediate success. “The event itself was very professionally run, and generated far reaching positive brand exposure for both leagues,” he said. “It was well attended by scouts and fans alike who were all very impressed by both the on and off ice product.”
“We received positive feedback from the NCAA programs, and the players from both leagues will benefit from it,” Dyck agreed.
The players agree, as they hope to be a part of this event in the future. “It’s a huge benefit for the MJHL and its players, as all of them are more exposed to scouts as well” Riese Gaber said.
“I definitely think the event should be continued,” Will Koop said. “It was a great showcase for both leagues.”
Matt Radomsky (Team Garbutt): 1 Game, 22 Saves
Matthew Thiessen (Team Garbutt): 1 Game, 28 Saves
Declan Graham (Team Garbutt): 2 Games, 0 Pts
Mark Wilson (Team Belfour): 2 Games, 0 Pts
Jaret Lalli (Team Zajac): 2 Games, 1 A
Darby Gula (Team Zajac): 2 Games, 1 A
Riese Gaber (Team Garbutt): 2 Games, 1 G, 1 A
Austin Heidemann (Team Garbutt): 2 Games, 1 G
Drew Worrad (Team Belfour): 2 Games, 1 G, 1 A
Daniel McKitrick (Team Belfour) 2 Games, 1 G, 1 A
Bradley Schoonbaert (Team Belfour): 2 Games, 1 A
Will Koop (Team Belfour): 2 Games, 1 A
Tyson McConnell (Team Belfour): 2 Games, 1 A