Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scheifele piling up points

Averaging almost two points per game in OHL

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GUELPH, Ont. -- With an NHL contract in his pocket and new fans by the legions, Mark Scheifele says he's not back in junior hockey this season to fill up on scoring points.

"I don't really look at the points as an indicator," the 18-year-old 2011 first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets said prior to Friday night's Ontario Hockey League game at Sleeman Centre, his last before winging his way today to the Hockey Canada selection camp in Calgary ahead of the world junior championship. "The main thing for me is how the team's doing.

"I kind of pride myself on how the team's doing and I want us to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. If your team's not succeeding, then you're really not succeeding."

Scheifele's team, the Barrie Colts, has improved dramatically in a year. With Friday's 8-5 win over the Guelph Storm, the Colts were first in the OHL's Central Division at 17-10-2-1.

Scheifele, after a goal in seven games with the Jets to start the NHL season, rejoined the Colts on Oct. 26 -- his team's 12th game of the season -- and collected two goal and two assists Friday, giving him 13 goals and 36 points through 19 OHL games.

Production

That's certainly the kind of production the Jets were hoping to see. It's clear that Scheifele moves the puck quicker than most junior skaters and plays the game with his head, even if his skating stride appears laboured at times, though he is by no means slow.

Scheifele's development certainly seems to have two things going for it in the days directly ahead.

For starters, he's playing on Barrie's top line that includes OHL scoring leader Tanner Pearson. He's also had some time with fellow Jets draft pick (2010 fourth-round) Ivan Telegin, a speedy forward who had a goal and three assists Friday.

Pearson (Canada's selection camp) and Telegin (Russia), both a year older, have the world junior ahead of them.

And that world junior will no doubt be a step towards Scheifele's promising future.

"Any time you get a chance to play against the best, it's always good," said Scheifele's coach, Jets icon Dale Hawerchuk. "I think of myself when I went to world championships and Canada Cups, it makes you a better player for sure. You learn a lot."

Scheifele said he can't wait for the selection camp to begin.

"I'm getting definitely a little nervous," he said. "I've never been to the selection camp but I'm so excited to take part in that. It's an honour and not many kids get to do it. I'm going to go there and work my hardest and just play my game and hopefully make the team. That's my goal."

Scheifele finished the NHL's pre-season second overall in scoring with eight points in five games but found the regular-season substantially tougher before being sent back.

"No, (I was) not demoralized," he said. "I was upset and disappointed in myself but you have to look at it like everything happens for a reason, that the team was only doing the best for you.

"So you have to put your trust in the people around you and trust in yourself, that everything's going to happen for a reason and you can't lose confidence."

He scored 10 points in his first four OHL games this season.

"It didn't take him too long to get used to the different pace and the quality of players he's playing with," Hawerchuk said. "There are still a lot of good hockey players in the OHL. They're younger but it's still tough to win every night.

"He had a big week for points but he was just trying to do too much at times, I felt."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2011 C2

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