Mark Scheifele’s crazy, all-over-the-map hockey season still has some life left.
The Winnipeg Jet prospect had his junior season with the Barrie Colts end Tuesday night in a Game 7 loss to the Ottawa 67s, but the first-round draft pick is headed to St. John’s to join the IceCaps in their push for a Calder Cup title. Scheifele, drafted seventh overall by the Jets last June, will join the IceCaps in Newfoundland.
St. John’s opens the playoffs Friday night in Syracuse against the Crunch for Game 1 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference quarterfinal (can be heard on TSN 1290). Scheifele would be available to the IceCaps for Games 3, 4 and 5 – if necessary – on The Rock.
"That’s going to be exciting. It’s another opportunity for me to improve my game," said Scheifele Thursday when reached by the Free Press.
"It’s been a great year. Getting picked by Winnipeg… going to the development camp for World Juniors last summer… going to Winnipeg and actually getting to play in seven games... it was obviously disappointing coming back to Barrie, but I had a great season with them. I got to play in the World Juniors and that was a great experience. It’s been a whirlwind year, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of cool people that are going to be friends for life now."
The Colts’ season ended this week when an injury-ravaged side was beaten in overtime by the 67s. Scheifele and fellow Jet prospect Ivan Telegin were spectacular for Barrie in the playoffs – Scheifele had five goals and seven assists in 13 games; Telegin five goals and nine assists.
"It’s definitely not the way I wanted the season to end," said Scheifele. "We easily could have went all the way if we were healthy, but we did get a lot of support of young guys and some of the guys that were getting second-line minutes at the end of the year were healthy scratches at the beginning of the year. It was good to see them succeed."
As for what happens after his stint with the IceCaps, Scheifele was very clear on his goals: Winnipeg or bust.
"That’s my main goal," Scheifele said. "Last year put a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth that I didn’t get to stick all year. But I’m definitely going to work my hardest this summer, give it my all to make the team and stay all year. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, putting on weight, getting stronger and improving my game a lot. But I’m definitely willing to put in all the work to make that happen."
Meanwhile, forward Ivan Telegin – also a Jets’ draft pick and a Colts’ teammate with Scheifele – will not be heading to St. John’s. Colts’ head coach Dale Hawerchuk said the speedy Russian was injured in the first period Game 7 against the 67s, tweaking his knee and needs time to recover.