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This article was published 30/9/2011 (2038 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HAS 18-year-old Mark Scheifele made the Winnipeg Jets?
It's sure starting to sound like it based on Friday night's impact performance -- again -- at the MTS Centre.
Scheifele scored a game-tying, third-period power-play goal, his fourth in five pre-season games, and had the sold-out crowd of 15,004 on its feet once again.
The Jets eventually lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Nashville Predators, but the result was hardly the story.
Is the decision made that the team's first-round draft pick from June, after just one year of major junior, is going to stick?
Jets coach Claude Noel paused when presented the question, then said this: "You'd have to ask him, kind of. I think what you should ask him is if he's signed."
Scheifele seemed to indicate after the game there was nothing to report on the matter, yet.
Back to Noel, who continued his answer.
"I'd like to say this: I love the kid. I absolutely love the kid. And I think our whole organization does," the coach said. "He scored again tonight. Look at the stats from the league.
"I've seen enough, let's put it that way, to know that over the course of games that I've watched him that he's an excellent player. And I don't only look at what he presents, such as skill and stuff like that. But it's his mind that's so sharp. We've got some smart players... that's what I'm watching."
Jets captain Andrew Ladd was asked if Scheifele did enough in training camp, and he just smiled.
"How many points did he have? Eight, eight points in five games? I think he's done enough," said Ladd, who also scored Friday. "It seems like every game he seems to come up big. I think it's the little things he does away from the puck. A lot of people don't realize how mature he is for his age. That makes him stand out for me.
"He's made it a tough decision on management and I wouldn't count him out being here on Oct. 9."
Scheifele, the Kitchener, Ont., native, was once again grinning from ear to ear after Friday's game.
He said the decision on "making" the team isn't up to him.
"I don't know. It's all up to the staff and the coaches," he said. "I just wanted to work my hardest and play my game and I think I did a pretty good job. It's not in my hands anymore.
"I worked my hardest and I'm happy with my effort, for sure."
Will he sign before Tuesday's NHL deadline for junior-aged players to have contracts, or be sent back?
"I don't know. I have no idea," he said. "I don't really understand the whole contract thing. I trust my agent, that he'll do whatever's best for me.
"Hopefully something can get done. I want to be here so bad."
During the third period of Friday's game, Scheifele was caught for slashing, in the offensive zone, no less, and was in the box when Nashville's David Legwand gave the Preds a 2-1 lead. He was also on the ice for Cal O'Reilly's first-period goal for Nashville.
But redemption was not far away. At 13:07 of the third period, Scheifele gathered up a loose puck from the corner, swung out to the faceoff circle, and when he could find no passing options, or any Nashville checkers bothering him, he whipped a hard, low wrist shot off the far post to tie the game.
Then the fans started chanting his name. Again.
"I was happy," he said. "That's the second time it's happened to me since the first game. It's an unbelievable feeling and it just put an even bigger smile on my face."