December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
He knows the Winnipeg Jets are watching him.
Mark Scheifele, though, really isn't interested in the eyes that are on him every game now that his Barrie Colts are through to the Ontario Hockey League championship series.
The Colts meet the London Knights, starting Friday, for a chance to earn a berth in the Memorial Cup.
"I think right now it's just about the team, not what you can do," Scheifele said Tuesday via phone from Barrie. "It's in the back of your mind that this might help you in the future but for the most part it's out of our minds, that this is about team goals and this isn't about how your personal success is going, or how good you've played or if you had a rough game.
"Nobody's being selfish; we're in it for the team."
Scheifele has done quite well for his team. He's the OHL's playoff scoring leader with eight goals and 27 points in 15 games and the Colts, after early round sweeps of Kingston and Oshawa, took down the Belleville Bulls 3-1 in Monday's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
Scheifele set up two goals on Monday after Belleville had scored first.
The 20-year-old centre, Winnipeg's first-round pick, seventh overall in 2011, has seen plenty of attention in this spring's playoffs.
"In the first two series, there was a lot more shadowing, kind of had a guy on me, attached to my hip in the offensive zone for most of those games," he said. "Against Belleville, it was a little bit different. They sat back a little more, tried to play a little more defensive against our line. But all in all, I think it went really well."
The series against the Bulls and Jets draft pick Austen Brassard saw increasing pressure as it went and Scheifele compared it to some of his world junior or NHL games.
"It's right up there," he said. "There is so much pressure. But I think me going through, playing in the NHL and in the world junior, I think that helps but still I get the butterflies every game. It's tough because you think about it so much.
"Especially with the playoffs, like Monday. If you lose Game 7, your season's done. It was really stressful but I think I was able to handle it pretty well."
Those pressures will cause all kinds of things to happen in a given playoff game, so controlling emotions, Scheifele said, has been key for the Colts.
"I think at times you can get frustrated," he said. "When we were up 3-1 (in the series) on Belleville, I think everyone was hitting the panic button a bit but I thought we all came together in Game 7, kept our composure. That's a huge thing that Dale (Hawerchuk, Barrie head coach) put in our minds, that we have to keep our composure, not get ahead of ourselves. We can't get angry or frustrated with each other, that we must stay together as a team.
"And that helped us get through it."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2013 D6