The Winnipeg Freeze have been an entity for only one week. But in that timespan the team has announced its head coach and general manager, released its logos, sweater colours and social media accounts, while links to ticket purchasing information and the new clothing/merchandise and gear online store were provided.
On the business side of things, the Freeze have also made significant moves, landing a number of players for the upcoming 2020-21 season and beyond. Obviously starting far behind the eight ball in terms of team personnel and talent, the team has been able to manoeuvre itself through rough waters in hopes of landing on its feet and taking off running for its debut season, set to begin on Friday, October 9.
Over the past few weeks, the Winnipeg Freeze have been involved in seven different trades. Despite strict limitations set in place by MJHL commissioner Kevin Saurette to limit movement between the two teams owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment (Winnipeg Blues, Winnipeg Freeze), the Freeze have been able to begin building a team ready to compete in its first year.
Deals with the Steinbach Pistons (X2), Selkirk Steelers, OCN Blizzard (X2), Waywayseecappo Wolverines and Winkler Flyers have provided the Freeze with the MJHL list rights to a handful of prospects, in exchange for future considerations from Winnipeg’s part going forward. Taking in seven relatively young players at a fairly cheap price tag has provided head coach/GM Josh Green with a number of depth options to begin building the team around.
Ryland Hueging, Forward, Winkler, 2003
Jaden Waddell, Defenceman, OCN, 2004
Presley Lester, Goaltender, OCN, 2002
Tristan Bear, Forward, Waywayseecappo, 2003
Evan Kaufman, Defenceman, Steinbach, 2000
Hayden Fast, Forward, Steinbach, 2003
Keegan Gordon, Goaltender, Steinbach, 2004
Nate Goodbrandson, Forward, Selkirk, 2003 (Previously acquired in a trade with Selkirk)
Future Considerations X6
Joining the new-look MJHL, the Freeze will be the league’s first expansion club since 1999, as the second MJHL club under 50-Below ownership will bring the league up to 12 teams for the first time since the folding of the St. James Canadians in 2003. In 1999, the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and Swan Valley Stampeders joined the league, which was home to 12 teams for four years.
The implementation of a 12th team creates opportunities for a wider reach of Manitoban players to lace up in Junior ‘A’ action this fall, while also significantly assisting with the league’s Phase II of the return-to-play guidelines as per geographical positioning, divisional alignment, while also helping to limit travel as best as possible. Training camps for all league teams are officially underway as of this weekend.