Mikol Sartor was the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s leading scorer this year. Linemate Brady Foreman, the captain of the Blues, had his best season of junior hockey, finishing 11thin league scoring.
However, both young stars will tell anyone listening why they had the success that they did: Mitchell Joss
And make no mistake, Mitchell Joss is a lot more than the third cog in one of the most dynamic lines of this or any other MJHL season.
Both players will tell you their eyes lit up when they heard Joss was being traded to the Blues. And what a trade it was. The Kings got the rights to Marcus Sekundiak (Brandon Wheat Kings) and Noah Wagner (Minnesota Wilderness, NAHL), plus a second-round and a fifth-round draft pick in the 2020 Bantam Draft. The Blues got Joss and both Jack and Kyle Oleksiuk.
And most importantly, they got the guy who could complete the Big Line.
“Me and Mikol and Brady have history together,” said Joss, the guy who scored the MJHL’s Goal of the Year against the Oil Caps in Virden. “We all played together in Peewee and then Brady and I played together in Bantam and Mikol and I played together with the Wild in Midget.
“We clicked because we had history but also because they are two really smart players who know what they’re doing. They have skill and speed and we all have a similar mind for the game.”
For a team that very few MJHL observers believed could win enough games to make the playoffs this year, the Big Line made them all look silly.
“We proved a lot of people wrong,” Joss said. “Which felt nice.
“The important thing is, we’ll be very good next year. We’ll take that next step.”
Joss grew up playing the game in Winnipeg’s South End, but he actually started his journey at the Winnipeg Winter Club.
“Yeah, I didn’t play Timbits,” he said. “I went to camps and clinics at the Winter Club and then started playing organized hockey at seven. I first played with Mikol (Sartor) in 8 A-1 with the South Winnipeg Kings (Fort Richmond). I played with the Kings until Peewee at 11 and 12 and played with both Mikol and Brady. Then I played two years with the Bantam Monarchs with Brady and then at 15 and 16, I played with Mikol on the Wild.”
It was great three-year run through Bantam and Midget where he won a Provincial Bantam Championship and two Provincial Midget titles. In 2016, he was selected in the third round (25thoverall) of the MJHL Draft by the Dauphin Kings.
After scoring five goals and adding 11 assists in 40 games with Dauphin in 2018-19, he was dealt to the Blues and with Foreman and Sartor, he was simply outstanding. He had 30 goals and 71 points and finished fourth in scoring. He doesn’t turn 19 until late June and has two more years at the Jr. A level. He could be a monster player by the time he’s done.
Of course, these days, he’s just like everybody else. He’s trying to work out, trying to stay sharp, knowing that someday, this pandemic will end and he’ll be able to get back to work pursuing his dream.
“Right now, my goal is to play NCAA Division 1 someplace,” he said. “I graduated from Shaftesbury High School and right now I’m working at my dad’s shop, Wallace Machinery. Normally, I like to play golf, go to the lake, play ball hockey, I really love ball hockey, and hang out with my buddies, but they postponed the season. So, I’m not sure what a lot of the guys are doing. We’re all locked up right now.”
Joss credits his parents, dad Trevor and mom Kerri, with his hockey successes.
“My parents are huge when it comes to hockey,” he said. “They put me in everything and they’re my biggest supporters.”
His coach, Gord Burnett is a pretty big supporter, too.
“His trajectory has been incredible,” said Burnett. “I considered him a rookie in the league because he was a young player when he played in Dauphin and it’s tough for young players to get the ice time they need in our league.
“But coming to us, he was going to get an opportunity. It’s interesting, he showed up 90 minutes before his first practice and I didn’t know who he was. That’s how quick the turnaround was on that trade with Dauphin. But we got him on the ice and threw him in there and his improvement from the first practice until the end of the season was incredible.
“And it was his work ethic that got him to where he is now. He’s an outdoor guy who loved playing on the outdoor rinks and he goes to the Jets’ games and watches a lot of hockey. All that work on his own really helped. He was always laser-focused in our meetings. He just worked so hard.”
Burnett has been amazed by both Joss’ improvement and the change in tone on phone calls he’s been receiving.
“Now, because of that incredible trajectory, everything about his game is better,” Burnett said. “At the start of the year, I’d be calling NCAA schools about our guys and they didn’t have a lot of interest in Mitchell Joss. By the end of the year, they were calling me and saying, ‘Tell me more about this Mitchell Joss guy.’”