Natives set to pick first overall at MJHL Bantam Draft


By: Lanny Stewart

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League Bantam Draft will be taking place on Sunday in Winkler and the Neepawa Natives hold the No. 1 pick overall.

It'll be the third year in a row the Natives will be making the first selection in the draft. The Natives selected Strathclair's Morgan Geekie first overall last year and in 2012, Neepawa opted to take Rivers product Ashton Anderson with their first selection.

"We take the best player available for the Natives and what fits our organization. I think it's important for the players themselves, they're excited about it, and for the teams, it's the building block for the future," said Myles Cathcart, Natives general manager on Monday Sports Talk on 880 CKLQ.

The Natives hold picks in every round, including two selections in the fifth round. Cathcart says during the draft, Natives management must be cognizant of players who are drafted by WHL teams and whether they will end up playing junior A hockey.

"You look at the WHL, we've got to be careful on where we pick and whether they get drafted in the WHL to see if they're going to play in Tier 2 junior," he said.

Cathcart says this year's crop of players in the draft is full of quality players who are loaded with potential.

"You have to remember they are 15 years old," he said. "They have a lot of room to develop to get stronger and bigger. You also get the gems too, the diamonds in the rough later in the draft that weren't maybe as highly touted either."

Prior to the draft, the MJHL will be holding their annual general meeting on Friday and Saturday.

Make sure to keep it locked to next week as we'll have a full recap of the draft and reaction from Natives management on their selections.


Cathcart on board with one division

It's been rumoured for a while now that the MJHL may very well be getting rid of the Sher-Wood and Addision Divisions and will be going to a one division format. The top 10 teams would then advance to the playoffs.

Cathcart is on board with the idea and says it would be great for the league.

"When you've got one division, every team will play everybody six times. It's good for the competitive level and it's good that other teams are playing everybody else the equal number of times.

"Financially, it would help all the teams," he continued.


One fight rule approved 

Meanwhile, the one fight rule, which was endorsed by the CJHL board of directors last October, was approved at Hockey Canada's annual general meeting over the weekend.

Nine of the 10 junior A leagues voted in favour of the rule, including the MJHL.