WINNIPEG - Mark Scheifele took another big stride toward making his dream a reality.
We wholeheartedly acknowledge it was merely an NHL pre-season game — and the first one at that — but the Winnipeg Jets first round pick in 2011 continues to serve notice that he’s here to make it awfully difficult for the team to send him back to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
After playing two dominant games out of three at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. last week, Scheifele picked up two goals and added a pair of helpers in a first-star performance as the Jets defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.
Prior to the game, Scheifele made it clear he was planning to feed off the raucous crowd and couldn’t wait to hear the Go Jets Go chants.
By the end of the night, the hometown fans were chanting his name at some point — whether it’s this season or somewhere down the road.
Scheifele was Johnny-on-the-spot for his goal, looming in front of the goal and banging home a rebound at 16:50 of the first period after a shot from the point.
We saw almost a carbon copy in the third as he pounded home another rebound during a power play to put the game out of reach.
The skilled centre also had nice feeds to set-up Winnipegger Kevin Clark at 16:34 of the second period and Russian rookie Ivan Telegin at 4:43 of the third.
Of course, Scheifele wasn’t the only story on the day that NHL pre-season action involving the Jets took place for the first time since 1995.
On the day powerful defenceman Dustin Byfuglien found out he was facing four charges after a boating incident on Lake Minnetonka, he needed all of one shift to make his presence felt.
Byfuglien found Brandon product Matt Calvert in his sights early and then crushed Tomas Kubalik with another big hit before dropping the gloves with Cody Bass.
The crowd roared after all three acts and on his way to the penalty box, Byfuglien smiled and nodded his head, suggesting that Jets fans should get used to what they were witnessing.
There could be some stressful times ahead for Byfuglien as it pertains to the charges against him, but on Tuesday he served notice that the arena might serve as his refuge and he was quite capable of being one of the best players on the ice, finishing with three assists and just a goal shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
It was also a good night for defenceman Paul Postma, who scored a goal and had three assists for the Jets.
Clark was one of five Manitobans suiting up in the game and the fact he scored in his first NHL pre-season game, in his hometown no less, is sure to make it a memorable night.
Ryan Johansen scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets.
In the split-squad game played at Nationwide Arena in Ohio, the Blue Jackets smoked the Jets 5-1, with Evander Kane scoring the lone goal for the visitors.
The Jets are back in action on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena against the Nashville Predators.