Steinbach Pistons captain Tyson McConnell joined an exclusive group of players as he surpassed 200 games played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

The 20-year-old veteran took a little time to reflect after game 203 vs the Winnipeg Blues and started thinking back to when he was a rookie breaking into the league. "When I started out as a 17-year-old, I was just hoping to get through that first year and just see how it goes. To be able to still be here, playing in my fourth year, I consider myself pretty lucky."

After spending the 2014-2015 season with the Pembina Valley Hawks, McConnell got his first taste of MJHL action in 2015/16 and remembers it vividly. "I remember just how fast the game was and how strong they were. You'd look up and down their lineup and seeing all these 20-year-olds who were pretty good players and it was a little intimidating. But, as time goes on you get adjusted to the pace and strength and I was able to grow as a player."

McConnell during the 2018 RBC Cup in Chilliwack, BC (Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)McConnell can also recall what it was like seeing his name on a jersey for the very first time. "It was a pretty unreal feeling. Steinbach's a great organization to play for and it's been an honour to play here for my career."

In his rookie season with the Pistons, McConnell put up 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in 48 games while only recording 8 penalty minutes. The pride of Pilot Mound can still see his first MJHL goal. "It was in OCN and I banked it off one of their defenders and in. (McConnell smiles and takes a moment as he thinks about it, laughs and says "yeah".)

The growth of McConnell on the ice is evident in his stats. After 15 points his first year, he increased that total to 27 the next year and 40 the year after that.

It's not just increasing his point total every year but for McConnell, it's growing as a person away from the rink. "I think I've matured a ton since I've got here. At 17, I was that quiet little guy in the corner, I was pretty nervous. We had a lot of older, more intimidating guys in the room but as time went on they welcomed me and I was able to grow. My billets have also been great. I've got to live with great roommates, too. I just can't complain about anything."

Last season, McConnell was part of the MJHL Championship and ANAVET Cup Championship Steinbach Pistons team that went all the way to the RBC Cup. It's something that not a lot of Junior A players get a chance to experience and it's something that McConnell cherishes still. "It was unbelievable. It's something you dream about when you come to Steinbach and play in Junior A. Right from the get-go last year, I knew we had the group to do it. The past couple of years before we fell short, so to finish it off was unbelievable and we're looking to do that again this year."

Heading into his final year, McConnell had played in 168 games, scored 38 goals and 82 points. As he suited up for game 169, he would add something else to his impressive career, the captains 'C'.

During the 2016 season, McConnell wore number 14. He would change to number 26 the following season.After a long road, it was a special moment for McConnell and his family. "It was really special. I've been able to play with some great leaders here in Steinbach and it was an absolute honour to be named by the coaches and the players here to be the one chosen to lead our way back to the Turnbull Cup."

Paul Dyck, the only head coach McConnell has known at the Junior level couldn't say enough good things about the kid who has become one of, if not the best two-way forwards to ever play for the Steinbach Pistons. To the point, when he was asked to talk about the career of his captain, Dyck responded with an "oh wow" and needed a moment himself to reflect on just how great it's been to watch McConnell grow on and off the ice. 

After taking a second to gather his thoughts, Dyck smiled and said "I think back to early on, it was evident he had a great mind for the game. He's grown but he's still that tall, lanky guy but the one thing that has always stayed is the relentless work ethic. We knew early he was going to be a good leader for this team. It's really no surprise he is where he is in terms of the role that he plays for us. He grasped the role of penalty killing and he's been a stalwart ever since. His offensive game has grown, he can really bury some pucks but that's going to the hard areas and that willingness to outwork others to get what he wants."

Dyck also has seen that maturity off the ice as McConnell has really ingrained himself in the community of Steinbach and is always willing to go out and do things with many different charitable groups or just spending time with fans. "He's a character guy. A great character guy. We'd love to have him for another 200 games but we'll take him for what we have left of him this year."

McConnell during a one of his over 200 MJHL games. (Photo credit: Steinbach Pistons)The first half of his final year has flown by according to McConnell but he's making sure he takes time to appreciate it. "I take it all in day by day, game by game and it's been a lot of fun. We have a good group of guys here again and we try to get better each and every day. We're working towards the playoffs and another push to the Turnbull.

Often referred to by many as "Kernel" or "Kerns" or a new nic-name given by teammates Brady Tatro and Tanner Mole, "Long Bones Jones", but when past or current teammates hear the name Tyson McConnell, the words they use to describe him are a warrior, a leader and a lot of respect. To have earned that is something the always humble McConnell can't appreciate enough. "It means a lot to me. I take a lot of pride in the way I play and live. Being able to be a leader, means a lot to me. Getting to be a role model to the 17 and 18-year-olds means a lot to me, getting to show them the way and how it should be done."

There's still a job to do this year, McConnell says but he is looking forward to what comes next. "I'd like to continue my hockey career, at what level I'm not sure. I just keep working and seeing what will come."

After spending four years and playing in over two hundred games, McConnell has had a chance to really get to know the people of Steinbach and that's something he'll take with him where ever the hockey road leads him. "I can't thank the people enough. The support has always been amazing. I really can't thank everyone enough for everything."

 

More Sports News

Weekend Recap: Woeful First Sinks Pistons - Still Lead series 3-2

The Steinbach Pistons allowed 4 goals in the opening period of game 5 on Saturday night and couldn't climb back as they eventually fell 4-1 to the Winnipeg Blues who inched closer into the series,…

Hockey Manitoba Provincial Championships - Week Three Results

Hockey Manitoba Provincial ChampionshipsMarch 15th, 16th & 17thMidgetRural "A" @ PeguisGold Medal Game: Sagkeeng White 4 Gimli 0Bronze Medal Game: Lake Manitoba 7 Flin Flon 1Consolation Final:…

Prairie Thunder Off To The Allan Cup

The South East Prairie Thunder will make their seventh straight appearance at the Allan Cup next month in Lacombe, Alberta after sweeping the Ste. Anne Aces in two straight in Hockey Manitoba's…

Hockey Manitoba Provincials - Week Three

Eleven Hockey Manitoba Provincial Championships are being held in our province this weekend. MidgetRural A @ PeguisRural B @ Landmark Female MidgetRural A @ Crystal City AtomRural AA @ PortageA @…

Blues Stave Off Elimination - Pistons Lead Series 3-1

The Steinbach Pistons couldn't close out the Winnipeg Blues season a strong third period by Winnipeg propelled them to a 6-1 win on Thursday night. Even Start Winnipeg came out desperate, as expected…

Provincial High School Varsity Basketball Championships

Provincial High School Varsity Basketball Championships"A" Girls @ BoissevainChampionship GameBoissevain 80 Rosenort 47Third Place GamePrairie Mountain 64 Ross L. Gray (Sprague)…

Mudbugs vs Xtreme in HTJHL final

The last two Hanover Tache Junior Hockey League champions meet Friday (8 p.m.) in St. Jean in game one of the best-of-seven final. The reigning champion Red River Mudbugs face the Springfield Xtreme…

LIVE BROADCAST FRIDAY: South East Prairie Thunder vs Ste. Anne Aces

LISTEN HERE Don’t miss a moment of the Allan Cup action Friday night as the Ste. Anne Aces play host to the South East Prairie Thunder. It’s game two in the best-of-three Provincial Senior AAA final…

Wong Reflects on Selects Season

The Eastman Selects season came to an end one week ago. Mitch Thiessen scored his second goal of the game 7:31 into overtime to lift the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Selects. Brandon…

Martin, Radomsky Push Blues To Brink - Lead Series 3-0

Brendan Martin scored a goal and added an assist while Matt Radomsky made 34 saves to grab a 3-0 series lead over the Winnipeg Blues with a 3-2 win on Tuesday at the TG Smith Centre. Powerful Start…

Pilots Mens' Futsal Fall Just Short Of Championships

The Providence men’s futsal team entered the MCAC Championships as the third seed and faced the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers in their semi-final matchup. During the regular season, the…

Two Gold & One Bronze for Panthers at WRL Playoffs

Steinbach Panthers U16BBack row: Gaby Lambert & Dakota Gigolyk 3rd row: coach Nicole Lambert, Makenzie Poetker, Brittney Dueck, Jorja Wynn, Kris Lazaruk, Robin Freund & coach Candice Dueck2nd row:…

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Monday, March 18th

MJHL
Steinbach at Wpg Blues, 7 p.m.
(Pistons lead best of 7 quarterfinal 3-2)

NHL
Arizona at Tampa Bay, 6:30 p.m.
Vancouver at Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Vegas at San Jose, 9:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.

NBA
Utah at Washington, 6 p.m.
Detroit at Cleveland, 6 p.m.
New York at Toronto, 6:30 p.m.
Denver at Boston, 6:30 p.m.
Golden State at San Antonio, 7 p.m.
Miami at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
New Orleans at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago at Phoenix, 9 p.m.
Indiana at Portland, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 17th

HTJHL
Red River 5 Springfield 4
(Mudbugs lead best of 7 final 2-0)

MJHL
Quarterfinals
Virden 3 Selkirk 2
(Oil Capitals win best of 7 series 4-2)

AHL
San Diego 4 Manitoba 1

NHL
Colorado 3 New Jersey 0
Buffalo 4 St. Louis 3 (SO)
N.Y. Islanders 3 Minnesota 2 (OT)
Vancouver 3 Dallas 2 (SO)
Philadelphia 2 Pittsburgh 1 (OT)
Anaheim 3 Florida 2
Vegas 6 Edmonton 3

NBA
Detroit 110 Toronto 107
New York 124 L.A. Lakers 123
Miami 93 Charlotte 75
Philadelphia 130 Milwaukee 125
Orlando 101 Atlanta 91
Sacramento 129 Chicago 102
Houston 117 Minnesota 102
L.A. Clippers 119 Brooklyn 116

Login