Scheifele takes demotion in stride

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:31 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Mark Scheifele isn’t going to waste any time thinking of what might have been.

One day after the Winnipeg Jets returned him to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, the skilled centre was focusing on the positives and talking about what he needs to do to become an NHL regular next season.

“You want to work even harder and motivate yourself to be there next year and guarantee yourself to be there next year,” Scheifele said from Barrie, Ont., moments after completing his first practice back with the Colts. “Once you get that little taste, you definitely want the whole thing.”

While that will have to wait until next fall, Scheifele experienced a host of highlights during his seven-game stint — including playing in the first NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens and scoring his first NHL goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre — which is an hour from his hometown of Kitchener, Ont. — in front of a host of friends and family members.

“I’m going to remember that (first NHL goal) for the rest of my life,” said Scheifele, 18. “And the opener was a historic game and something a lot of hockey fans will remember for a long time. To be part of it is an honour and something I’ll always cherish.”

Scheifele also came away feeling good after his meeting with Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Sunday.

“It was all positive and I was very happy they gave me some input,” said Scheifele. “They were happy with my play and they just want me to physically mature a bit more to be able to withstand playing in a men’s league. That’s really the main thing. I’ve just got to keep working hard and working on every aspect of my game.”

Scheifele went through something similar two years ago when he was cut by the Saginaw Spirit and returned to Tier II junior.

“It’s something every hockey player goes through and you have to take it through open eyes,” said Scheifele. “Just do what you do best and continue to work hard.”

Scheifele sat down with Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk on Monday and is excited to continue the learning process with the Hockey Hall of Famer.

“He’s definitely a mentor of mine and someone who has taught me a lot over the last year,” said Scheifele.

Hawerchuk is ecstatic about Scheifele’s return.

“Obviously, he enjoyed the whole experience up there and wants to get back, but he knows he’s probably got a few things to work on and the best way to work on those things is to play lots of minutes,” said Hawerchuk. “He needs to work on his strength. He’s got good size, but he has to fill the frame out a bit.”

Scheifele has high hopes for the Colts season and is hoping to suit up for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton and Calgary.

“It’ll definitely be in the back of my mind,” said Scheifele. “It’s a goal of mine to make that team, something a lot of Canadian kids have dreamt about their whole lives. I’m going to work my hardest to strive towards that goal.”


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