19-year-old Mitchell Joss has successfully crossed the Canada/USA border, thus clearing the first hurdle in his stride to crack the United States Hockey League’s Waterloo Black Hawks for the 2020-21 hockey season.
After being drafted in both the USHL and NAHL Drafts last season, the Winnipeg product chose to leave his Manitoba Junior Hockey League club, the Winnipeg Blues, in hopes of earning a place on the Black Hawks, and later a scholarship within the College Hockey realm.
“The decision to play for the Black Hawks just came from being drafted in the first place,” Joss told Game On Magazine. “From there I knew that I wanted to play in Waterloo because the organization is top-tier. The USHL is such an elite league with so much opportunity and potential exposure for me.”
The former Winnipeg AA Twins star saw his career blossom at the AAA level while in his second season with the U-18 Winnipeg Wild, before beginning his MJHL career in 2018-19. Within the provincial AAA system, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward earned 45 goals, 99 points and 58 penalty minutes in 91 regular season contests with the Wild.
Selected in the third round of the 2016 MJHL Bantam Draft by Dauphin, Joss began his junior career with the Kings, scoring five times and adding 11 assists in his first 40 games as a rookie. But it wasn’t until moving to the Blues that the right-shooting winger was able to put his entire skillset on display. His 30 goals and 71 points in 57 games came up just shy of Mikol Sartor’s team lead, which also ranked him fourth in league scoring on the season. It was nothing short of a phenomenal 55-point improvement in just his second year in the league.
“Last season was great for me to really develop, especially being on a younger team and having the opportunity to play as much as I did and work on my game a lot,” Joss said. “Coach Gord was a great coach for me and I thank him a lot for where I am now. The teammates were also great; being on a team where everyone is so tight-knit helps a lot.”
Now having just arrived in Waterloo, Iowa, Joss underwent his mandatory isolation to help combat the spread of the current COVID-19 virus, before moving in with his arranged billets. Although he didn’t know his future teammates or anybody within the organization prior to being drafted, the 19-year-old had been involved in conversation with the coaching staff and trainer prior to the team’s official start of training camp on Thursday.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in a new country,” he said. “It’ll be lots of fun and a lot to get used to; the hockey is great. I’m looking forward to showing everyone what I can do and hopefully land myself a Division I scholarship in the process. We just arrived here the other night and I obviously still need to officially make the team, but I am really excited to get going here and get a feel for it all.”