Mikol Sartor had a dream season, a season that surprised even him.
The 18-year-old graduate of Vincent Massey Collegiate, was not only a Manitoba Junior Hockey League First-Team All-Star, but he was also the league’s scoring champion. It was the first time in his hockey life that he’d won a league scoring title and it came during a season in which his Winnipeg Blues surprised the local hockey community with a shockingly good year.
“A lot of people doubted us,” Sartor said with a laugh. “But we had a lot of fun proving them wrong. We had a great group of guys this year, we were all really close and our coach (Gord Burnett) really taught us a lot and brought everything together.
“I had never won a scoring championship and I was really surprised because at the start of the year, I didn’t think we’d be scoring a lot of goals. But in the end, we had a pretty good offensive team and my line mates were great. I got to play with my close friend, Mitchell Joss again. We’ve always connected whenever we’ve played together and we really connected this past year.”
The Blues, a team some cynical MJHL followers suggested wouldn’t win 10 games, finished the season with a record of 24-29-6-1 and reached the playoffs ahead of Selkirk, OCN and Neepawa. Meanwhile, Sartor won the scoring crown with 35 goals and 93 points in all 60 of his team’s games (he also led the league in assists). His line mates, Joss and Brady Foreman were also among the league’s top scorers. Joss finished fourth in scoring with 30 goals and 71 points in 57 games while Foreman was 11th with 17 goals and 62 points in 50 games.
And while the Blues fell in four straight to heavily-favoured Steinbach in the opening round of the playoffs — a round that ended just before Hockey Canada shut down the game in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic — there is little doubt the Blues will be even better next year. After all, not only will the top line will be back next season, but the entire roster is age-eligible to play whenever the next campaign begins.
There is certainly plenty of incentive for Sartor to play his best again next season. Both he and Coach Burnett have had conversations with a number of NCAA Division 1 university programs and Sartor’s goal is to prepare to head south as soon as the pandemic ends and the border opens.
“That’s what I’m working toward right now,” he said. “I talked to a few schools this year. I talked to Maine and Sacred Heart (a school that is about to build a $60 million hockey centre) and my coach has talked to a few other schools about me. I’m working hard to make it happen.”
Sartor started playing Timbits hockey at the Winnipeg Winter Club when he was five. He played much of his minor hockey at Dutton Arena and eventually played for the Peewee Twins, the Bantam Hawks, the City Midget Monarchs and the Provincial Midget Wild. Last year, in his first full season with the Blues, Sartor had seven goals and 18 points in 50 games. This past season his offence exploded and he led the Blues into the playoffs.
Next year, on a much-improved Blues team, he could take a huge step toward reaching his NCAA goal. In the meantime, he’s just trying to get through the pandemic like everybody else.
“I get up and work out at home five days a week and then on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, I work at my parents restaurant, the Calabria Market on Scurfield (which is closed for seating, but open for take out and delivery),” he said. “Otherwise, I’m just playing a lot of video games and trying to get through this like everybody else.”