With the Manitoba Junior Hockey League now officially on hiatus until early January due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, the league participated in its final games of 2020 prior to announcing a pause that will see every team cease all hockey activity until the case numbers within Manitoba begin to drop.
The final week of the season prior to the league’s pause saw just three games, including Waywayseecappo battling Neepawa twice and a thriller in Virden between the hometown Oil Capitals and the Swan Valley Stampeders. While teams within the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and the Southern Health-Santé Sud Region continued to follow the province’s guidelines as to non-participation in sporting activities.
The first game of the weekend saw Wayway narrowly edge Neepawa 4-3, while just down the road in Virden, the Oil Capitals escaped Swan Valley 5-4. The next day, the Wolverines thumped the Natives 6-1 in the league’s final games of 2020. In handing out the hardware for the limited action on display, the MJHL awarded Tyson Zimmer as the Northwest Division Star of the Week, while Hunter Cloutier was named the Interior Division Star of the Week.
Zimmer, 16, has played 10 games with the Wolverines this season, putting up four goals and four assists. The Russell product scored one goal in Wayway’s first victory of the weekend, before putting up a goal and an assist the following day. The Brandon Wheat Kings first round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft spent the past two seasons with Okanagan of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, where he put up 40 goals and 95 points in 67 total games.
Cloutier, 19, has helped lead the Oil Capitals offensive charge all season long. In nine games, the fourth-year player already has six goals and 17 points for Virden. Cloutier, a product of Winnipeg, has 71 goals and 161 total points in 181 combined MJHL games, including 29 goals and 65 points in 55 games last year. The league’s current point leader put up two goals and three assists for five points in his lone game last week.