MARK Scheifele tries his best to share a moment with every child that participates in his annual two-day hockey camp at the Iceplex.

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MARK Scheifele tries his best to share a moment with every child that participates in his annual two-day hockey camp at the Iceplex.

That’s a mammoth task for the Winnipeg Jets centre — there’s 216 kids here this weekend, all wearing cages and No. 55 on their backs.

JASON BELL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Jackson Deschambault for Scheifele camp kid story by Jason Bell. June 22, 2019</p>

JASON BELL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jackson Deschambault for Scheifele camp kid story by Jason Bell. June 22, 2019

Jackson Deschambault got his moment with his hero Saturday morning. This fall, the eight-year-old Winnipegger will sign up for his second year of hockey at Kirkfield Westwood Community Centre.

And what words of encouragement did the Jets’ premier forward offer up?

"We were playing this scrimmage thing and he said I had good moves," Jackson said.

The youngster lamented scoring just once during his first season of organized hockey. But Scheifele and his guest instructors, Vancouver Canucks property Jett Woo and former Western Hockey League goalie Gavin McHale, both of Winnipeg, told him and the other kids to quit stressing about goals and assists.

"They said we should just play for fun," Jackson said.

Clearly, that’s the one lesson the Jets alternate captain hopes resonates with the young participants at his two-day camp, now in its fifth year. It’s in support of KidSport Winnipeg, an organization that’s paying the registration fees for kids from financially disadvantaged families, so the kids can participate in sports.

"It’s awesome. These two days are so much fun, getting to see kids smile and having fun playing hockey. It definitely puts a smile on my face, and I couldn’t be happier right now," Scheifele said. "It’s pretty cool to give back. When I think back, if 10 years ago I was to tell myself I was doing this in Winnipeg and getting a chance to make a difference, I’d be shocked. So, I’m ecstatic to be able to do something like this.

"I try to (meet each child). I like to think I have a pretty good memory and am pretty observant, so I like to try and get to everyone, whether it’s shooting on a goalie or stick-handling with a kid or just saying, ‘Are you having fun?’ That’s the easiest way," said the 26-year-old Kitchener, Ont., native.

Scheifele scribbled his name on the back of every sweater Saturday, creating a memory for those youngsters that will last a lifetime. And that’s important to a guy who vividly recalls his own brush with hockey greatness.

"I remember after a (Detroit) Red Wings game one time, me, my brother and sister knew Steve Yzerman was going to walk by a certain area, and right at the end of the game we ran to this area. Lo and behold, he’s right there and we got our jerseys signed by him," he said. "He was our favourite player growing up for all of us. To meet him and get our jerseys signed was pretty special."

Today, other special guest instructors will stop by, including former Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson and Oakbank product Brett Howden, who begins his second season with the New York Rangers this fall.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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