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Moving On Up?

They say what goes up must come down, but do not tell that to Barrie Colts center Mark Scheifele.

The Barrie Colts forward has had a dream off season, surprising many by being drafted 7th overall by the Winnipeg Jets, and continuing to surprise by performing exceptionally well during NHL training camp.

Having seen Mark play all last year, there was definitely something special that stood out when he took the ice. His size and offensive abilities stood out to Coach Hawerchuk as well, as he played the whole season on the first line putting up 75 points for the last place Colts.

Scheifele received the ultimate hockey honour last year being selected to play for his country in the U18 World Championship. Although the team fell short of winning gold, Mark was selected as one of the top three players on the team, not too shabby for the first year OHLer.

Fast forward to OHL training camp this year, where I, along with many of my colleagues, saw the improvements he had made over the off season. Having gained speed and gotten stronger, he was easily the best player on the ice every night. Playing on a preseason line with Behenna and Pearson, these three looked like wizards, moving the puck where and however they wanted.

This strong play has carried over to Jets camp, where going into play tonight, he has been the top preseason scorer for the team with six points in three games. Now there is talk of him at least starting with the team for at least the first nine games of the year, after which he would still be eligible to return to junior if that is what the team decides to do.

Having watched a couple of his preseason games it certainly seems like he has fit in with the big club. Atlanta was no powerhouse last year and could certainly use a player with Scheifele’s offensive abilities. Head coach Claude Noel seems to be very high on Mark, but hasn’t made a decision on his future at this point. Having called him the best player on the ice after the first preseason game, he could be waiting until a contract is signed to make his decision.

After talking with him a couple times last year, it was evident that he is a very smart guy who would certainly be ready to step up to whatever challenge is thrown his way. Although I am looking forward to see him suit up for Barrie again this year, if he manages to make the Jets, this surprise would certainly be the sweetest of them all for the 18 year old.

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