It's only half-way through the hockey season but Jordan Bochinski has already learned plenty about opportunity.
Cut by the Winnipeg Thrashers last fall, the 16-year-old forward was claimed by the Winnipeg Wild and has now been selected to play in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League's all-star game on Saturday at Dauphin's Credit Union Place.
"To be an all-star is just a huge honour. To hear your name listed with all these great players, it's humbling and rewarding," said Bochinski, a Grade 11 student at River East Collegiate.
"When I got cut, there was a worry that I wouldn't get to play in the provincial midget league so for Paul (Wild head coach Krueger) and the Wild to pick me up meant I got another chance and I wanted to make sure I made the most of that opportunity."
Bochinski is definitely doing that as he has developed into one of the Wild's most productive players. He is second in team scoring with 36 points and is among the league leaders in assists with 18 assists.
"In a year that I was cut by the Thrashers and picked up by the Wild, I just keep thinking that if (the Wild) hadn't given me that shot, I wouldn't be here," said Bochinski. In the MAAAMHL, players are free to join another team if they are released by their regional team.
For Bochinski and numerous other amateur hockey players chosen to participate in their respective league all-star games in the next few weeks, it's chance to showcase their talent while honouring the teams they represent.
"It's about exposure and opportunity, for the player and their skill but also the whole program and the people involved," said Hockey Winnipeg president Don McIntosh.
"Our teams and programs are all run by volunteers who work very hard behind the scenes so they're sort of showcased as well. It's an opportunity for all of us to show the broader public what we're doing and programs we're running."
At a press conference on Thursday when Hockey Winnipeg's AAA Council announced its annual all-star day and teams, forward Cole McCartan of the Winnipeg Hawks said being chosen to play in the City Midget League's all-star game felt pretty special since he was cut from the league last year.
"I played with St. James Collegiate last season and learned a ton from a really good coach Jordan Bodnar and that gave me some confidence throughout the year," said McCartan, 16, who ramped up his off-season training with a four-month program at NRG Fitness in Winnipeg. "You have to be doing more work now if you want to play at the highest level possible. You can't just show up and hope you're ready. Being part of the all-star day was one of my goals and I am looking forward to a fun day."
It will be a unique all-star day for the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League, which has changed its all-star format this year to also honour top veteran players.
"We are going with the Jets and Vets (games)," said WWHSHL president Tom Johnson. "The Jets All-Star game is the best players in our league in any grade 9-12. This should be a fast and exciting game. The Vets All-Star game is the girls from each team that deserve to be in an all-star game from years of hard work and service to their teams, mostly grade 12 players getting the nod."
President Mark Miles said the boys' Winnipeg High School Hockey League has been holding an all-star day for over 20 years. It has grown to three divisions, each of which hold an all-star game.
"You're playing with different kids and you have that experience meeting them which you might not have otherwise," Miles said. "Guys see each other on the ice after that (back with their regular teams) and they'll tap a guy and say hi so it's got a friendship aspect to it as well."
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All-star showcases fill January calender
Over the next month hundreds of young hockey players will have the chance be an all-star as leagues around the province showcase their top talent. Here's a list of game on the horizon:
SATURDAY, JAN. 12
Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
- Credit Union Place at Dauphin, 3:30 p.m.
Hockey Winnipeg AAA All-star Day -- MTS Iceplex
- Bantam II: 10 a.m.
- Bantam I: 12:30 p.m.
- City Midget: 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, JAN. 13
Winnipeg High School Hockey League -- Winnipeg Free Press Rink at the MTS Iceplex
- Coca-Cola Division: 3:30 p.m.
- Winnipeg Free Press Division: 5:30 p.m.
- Platinum Promotions Division: 7:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, JAN. 17
Manitoba Women's Junior Hockey League
- Red River Co-op Rink at the MTS Iceplex, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, JAN. 19
Hockey Winnipeg Female All-Star Day -- Both rinks at Jonathan Toews Community Centre
- Peewee A2: 8 a.m.
- Bantam A2: 8:20 a.m.
- Peewee A1: 9:10 a.m.
- Bantam A1: 9:30 a.m.
- Midget A: 10:20 a.m.
- Peewee AA: 10:40 a.m.
- Midget AA: 11:30 a.m.
- Bantam AA: 11:50 a.m.
Hockey Winnipeg AA (Male) All-star Day -- St. James Civic Centre
- Minor peewee: 8 a.m.
- Peewee: 9:45 a.m.
- Minor bantam: 11:30 a.m.
- Bantam: 1:15 p.m.
- Minor midget: 3 p.m.
- Midget: 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, JAN. 20
Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League -- MTS Iceplex
- Vets (top veteran players): noon
- Jets (league all-stars) game: 2 p.m.
Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League
- Niverville Centennial Arena, 2 p.m.
Carillon Senior Hockey League
- Niverville Centennial Arena, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, JAN. 27
Ron Stamm Memorial Midget A1/A2 All-Star Game
- Jonathan Toews Community Centre, 1 p.m.
SATURDAY, FEB. 2
Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League
- Billy Mosienko Arena, 7:30 p.m.