Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scheifele's first goal 'bittersweet' moment

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TORONTO -- He is a kid that just can't stop grinning and it's been that way since he was first introduced to Winnipeg fans at the NHL entry draft back in June.

But even Mark Scheifele will admit the thrill of scoring his first career goal loses some of its oomph when he and his teammates blow a two-goal lead in the third period and fall 4-3 in a shootout.

"Everything's about winning," Scheifele said Wednesday following the Jets' loss at the Air Canada Centre. "You want to be able to get the win, so this is definitely a little bittersweet."

With his mom, brother, sister, girlfriend, agent and trainers in the crowd, Scheifele brought them -- and hundreds of Jets fans in attendance -- to their feet with a power-play goal in the second period that gave Winnipeg a 3-1 lead.

His father Brad was not able to attend the game as he was in Myrtle Beach on business.

"That kinda sucked that he couldn't be here," Scheifele said, "but it's good to have a lot of my family here and some friends, too."

The goal was a carbon copy of a couple he scored in the pre-season and spoke of his vision and ability to get to open space.

The 18-year-old Kitchener, Ont., product pounced on a rebound of a Dustin Byfuglien shot and buried it past a sprawling James Reimer. And while the decision as to whether he will head back to Barrie of the OHL hasn't been made official yet -- the team has nine games to decide before his salary would count against the cap -- Scheifele served up a solid effort that could blur the picture a little bit. He played only seven minutes in Monday's win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but played 10 minutes and 27 seconds against the Leafs, including some work on the power play and in overtime.

Worth repeating is this to hammer home how fast his game has tranformed: two years ago Scheifele was playing Junior B hockey and the young lad has only one year of major junior under his belt.

"Looking back two years ago and playing for the (Kitchener) Dutchmen (of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League) I definitely wouldn't have thought I would be here today," said Scheifele. "It definitely took a lot of hard work and I want to make this my career. I want to give it my all, all the time."

"I'm so glad for him," said teammate Alex Burmistrov, who scored his first goal of the season against the Leafs. "I can still remember when I scored my first goal. It's a special moment and he's worked really hard to get it."

And the historic puck?

"I haven't got it yet... I think our trainer or equipment manager has it," he said. "I'll probably put it somewhere nice."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter:@WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 20, 2011 C2

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