Jets' Scheifele finding stride in OHL
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Ottawa 67's forward Dalton Smith checks Barrie Colts forward Mark Scheifele at the J. Benson Cartage Centre in Ottawa, Ont., April 13, 2012. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Mark Scheifele has always been someone who lives in the now.
So rather than worry about where he might stand if the NHL lockout weren't currently in full swing, the first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been focusing on flourishing in his third season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
Not only does Scheifele find himself second in the OHL in scoring with eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 15 games, the Colts are the top team in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 11-3-0-1 record under head coach Dale Hawerchuk.
"We have a good team here. Personally, it's been going really good," Scheifele said in a recent telephone interview from Barrie, Ont. "I've been able to play with good players like Zach Hall and Anthony Camara and we have good chemistry on our team. We're definitely going to continue to get better each and every week."
After the Jets selected Scheifele seventh overall, the Kitchener, Ont. product turned heads with a strong pre-season and made the opening-day roster last fall, appearing in seven NHL games before he was returned to the Colts.
To cap off the season, Scheifele joined the St. John's IceCaps for a portion of their Calder Cup playoff run.
Then he got to work on on getting stronger.
"I've matured a lot physically and mentally," said Scheifele, who had a career-best six-point game against the Ottawa 67s earlier this month. "I've learned a lot over the last year and went through a lot of things, how to deal with ups-and-downs and that's a big thing in becoming a pro hockey player.
"Last year was an unbelievable ride and it was one of the funnest times of my life, being in Winnipeg."
Scheifele is eager for another shot to crack the Jets' roster, but his thoughts aren't dominated by thoughts of the lockout or when it might end.
"I try to keep it out of my mind as much as possible," said Scheifele. "I don't have any control over it and I hope they can work something out. If they do, I'm ready and raring to go.
"You have to look at the positives. I get to develop here and I have somewhere to play hockey and I'm able to better my game, get stronger and bigger and more ready to sustain an NHL season."
Scheifele has already been chosen to suit up for the OHL in the Subway Series against Russia and he's expected to be invited for the world junior camp in December as well.
He wants to bring home a different colour medal this time around.
"Getting the bronze left a bitter taste in my mouth," said Scheifele. "I want to make that team and do whatever it takes to win the gold. That's my goal."
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has already seen Scheifele live this season and believes the growth in his overall game stretches beyond the numbers.
"He obviously has gotten off to a good start and more importantly, his team is doing well," said Cheveldayoff. "That's a big thing from our perspective, to see how the team performs and how he does with respect to the leadership of that team. The points, the goals, the assists are important, but whether he can contribute to the success of a team is important as well."