High School hockey flourishes in Brandon

Darryl Wolski
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Here is the reality right away, the odds of playing in the NHL – WHL or NCAA from playing High School Hockey in Manitoba is very low.  From my memory the only player to move up from High School Hockey to the WHL is Brett Brooks of Winnipeg who is now playing for the U of M Bisons.

However there are plenty of upsides to playing high school hockey:

  • Affordable
  • Limited travel
  • Building school spirit
  • Still playing a level of competitive hockey

Dan Landry, coach at Vincent Massey, has had a decent amount of success since he has taken over the coaching tasks.

BDNMB – Dan why would someone choose to play high school hockey?
Dan – The ability to represent their school which is very important… the kids that play AAA Midget they don’t get to play for their school as an example.  The friendships that they make playing high school hockey lasts a lifetime.  Plus we have the chance to go on big trips like we went to Anaheim this year or Dauphin went to Texas.  That is selling feature for sure.

BDNMB – You have a good handle on social media, do you think your players and family members embrace what you are doing?
Dan – Yeah I think so ….. we are trying to stay as active as possible and most kids want to be involved with the polls etc.

BDNMB – Do you feel some of your players, or league players, can make the jump to the MJHL?
Dan – We think there is the opportunity for that but it depends on how much work they are willing to put in.  Last year we had three players from the league went to the MJHL.

BDNMB – Any success stories to share?
Dan – Biggest one having kids coming back and saying that I am never taken anything for granted because the kids would think that high school would be easy and just something to do.  This becomes much more than hockey.  Zach Whitecloud played at Vincent Massey after being cut from the AAA Wheat Kings twice.  He is going to play in the NHL.

BDNMB – What are the costs?
Dan – It costs $1,500.00 for normal fees for $750.00 a black ace (practice player) plus an additional $1,500.00 to go on our big trip.

BDNMB – Do the players get any “special” treatment from their school?
Dan – NO ….. zero we get no special treatment at all. We are basically not recognized by the school.  We have won three years in a row and never nominated for team of the year.

BDNMB – Teams like Crocus and Dauphin have appeared to be arch rivals and in the case of a fight what happens to those players in school?
Dan – Players were suspended for 3 games and nothing happened at the school level.

BDNMB – What is the future of the Westman High School League?
Dan – If a school wants to have a team they have to be prepared for the level or calibre.  This isn’t a recreational hockey league by any means.

BDNMB – Why do this?
Dan – Love for the kids ….. coached Pee Wee and Bantam and when I was 25 I got the call.  The program has really evolved over the 4 years that I have been involved.

**** UPDATE some names to add to High School Alumni
– Brock Nixon from Russell / WHL / CIS / EUROPE
– Brandon Lockerby from Brandon / WHL
– Carson McMillan from Brandon / WHL / AHL / NHL / EUROPE
– Ryan Reeves from Winnipeg / WHL AND NHL