Record: 14-14-3 (31 points, .500%) 3rd in Sherwood
On Pace: 28-28-6 (62 points)
The Wolverines haven't been a lot above, or below .500, and they hit the midway point of the season, at exactly even. 3rd place is probably close to expectations, but I think they would like their record to be better. The Wolverines have played some of their best games against some of the league's top teams. They've had some great games with Dauphin, the Blues, and Portage, while they've left some points on the table against teams lower in the standings, like in their last game, when they let Neepawa come back from down 3-1. The Wolverines surprised some people when they traded Thomas Ward-Cardinal to the Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL) on December 1st, but a top four of Steph Robidoux, Steven Duda, Bobby Janzen & Pierre Landry, all 20-year-olds, have all provided solid all-around play, which made the move possible, and the "futures" could allow the Wolverines to make an upgrade elsewhere. That area would likely be up front, with Cory Simons and James Davison shoring up the goaltending since their arrivals.
What they have left: 31 games
Sherwood Division: 21 games (11H, 10A)
Swan Valley: 7 (4H, 3A)
Dauphin: 5 (3H, 2A)
Neepawa: 5 (2H, 3A)
OCN: 4 (2H, 2A)
Addison Division: 10 games (5H, 5A)
Portage: 2 (1H, 1A)
Wpg Saints: 2 (1H, 1A)
Selkirk: 2 (1H, 1A)
Steinbach: 2 (1H, 1A)
Winkler: 1 (1H)
Wpg Blues: 1 (1A)
What to expect?
21 of Wayway's final 31 games are against divisional opponents, so a lot can change in the second half. Home ice advantage in the first round of playoffs is a realistic goal, but the playoffs period aren't a slam dunk, with how close the standings are, and with an above-average chance of an Addison cross-over, which would mean only three Sherwood teams would get in. Coach/GM Barry Butler has said on the air that he believes this is a special group, and a group they'd like to add to. The question is, who can they add? In both the SJHL and MJHL, most teams are in the race, and the few that aren't, have already moved the few 20-years-olds (or most) that they add (ex: Neepawa, Kindersley, Melfort). Also, with the recent addition of Connor Pennell, the Wolverines are at the max of nine 20-year-olds. If they can add a piece, I would think it would be someone to add some punch to a second line (like the Josh Daley deal at last year's deadline), or a left winger to play with Goodrunning and Pinkerton on the top line (although Richard Little just came back and had success there before his injury). This team has yet to taste Round 2 of the playoffs in its now 13th season of existence, and with a full compliment of 20-year-olds, including four on the blue line, this is a year to get it done, and if they can improve their roster in the next month, they'll do it.
Most Valuable Player
Shane Goodrunning, F
He's the only Wolverine at over a point per game, and is on pace to hit 30-goals for a second straight season, and over 70 points. Goodrunning was also one of Wayway's top performers in last year's playoff series with Winkler, and there's no question he wants to finish his junior career by taking the next step, and leading this team to a playoff round victory. Goodrunning is one of the top centres in the league, and has formed a nice duo with sophomore winger Brett Pinkerton. 9 of Goodrunning's 15 goals have come on the powerplay, and he's a major reason why Wayway's powerplay has been top three in the league for much of the season.
Runners-Up: Cory Simons, G; Brett Pinkerton, F; Bobby Janzen, D
Bobby Janzen/Pierre Landry, D
They've got 37 points between them, but get little if any publicity around the league. Janzen and Landry have always taken care of their own end, and this season, especially in the last month or so, have vaulted up their totals offensively. They make up a real balanced, physical, offensive, and most importantly, responsible pairing. Janzen takes a 6 game point streak into the second half, and would have to be one of the most improved players in the league.
Runners-Up: Curtis Veitch, F; Ashley Howie, F; Zaine Walker, F
Cody Koskimaki, F
The Wolverines don't have a lot of rookies. Infact, Koskimaki's 17th on the team in points, with 2g-4a-6p, and all 16 guys ahead of him were playing Junior last season. But the recent road trip to OCN I did with the Wolverines, I thought Koskimaki was their best player the first night, and had another solid effort the next day. When I asked Barry during training camp if there was one rookie he was really excited about, he said it was Koskimaki, and compared said he saw some Sean Collins in him. Koskimaki will be a key depth player the rest of the way, will likely be leaned on a lot in the next couple years.