The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has concluded play on the 2019-20 regular season. In doing so, the league has announced its three stars for the week of play spanning February 24 to March 1. Leading the way is Winnipeg Blues forward Josiah Vanderhooft, as well as Portage Terriers defenceman Lane Taylor and Waywayseecappo Wolverines goaltender Cole Ahern.
Ahern helped his team to three wins, Taylor stood steady on the blueline for the second-place Terriers, while Vanderhooft put up eight points in just three games – the three most important games of the Blues’ season, that is.
With the MJHL playoff picture now determined, the past week of play served a significant role, indicative of where multiple teams would finish the season. A strong surge from the Winnipeg Blues, paired with a long Selkirk Steelers losing streak helped the Blues into the postseason, while the Steelers were sent home packing, much earlier than originally anticipated.
Leading the way for Winnipeg through this past week of play was Vanderhooft, who put up six goals and eight points, to go along with two penalty minutes and an impressive three power play goals in just three games for the Blues. He scored once and added an assist on the 25th, before potting two markers on the 28th. March 1st then saw Vanderhooft collect a hat trick and add an assist for his second four-point night of the past two weeks.
Lane Taylor, who has nine goals and 22 points on the season for the Terriers, had his best week of play from an offensive production standpoint in the season’s final week. He collected a goal and two assists against the Neepawa Natives on the 26th, before registering two more assists just two days later against OCN.
Colin Ahern skated out to a perfect 3-0-0 record for the Wolverines this past week, posting a 1.00 goals against average and a .959 save percentage, to go along with one shutout in three games played. The 1999-born backstop turned aside 22 of 24 shots in a win over OCN on the 25th, before blocking 24 of 25 shots against Neepawa on the 28th. Ahern was perfect in his final game of the year, stopping all 24 shots he faced in a shutout victory over Virden.
MJHL playoffs are set to begin Friday evening as all four best-of-seven series get underway with 7:30 PM central starts. The Virden Oil Capitals visit the Winkler Flyers, the Swan Valley Stampeders will host the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, the Dauphin Kings will travel to Portage for a series with the Terriers, while the first-place Steinbach Pistons will host the Winnipeg Blues.