BARRIE, Ont. – Mark Scheifele is looking forward to sharing some stories with his Barrie Colts teammates.
But that’s only one of the reasons the Colts are happy to have Scheifele back after a seven-game, one-goal stint with the Winnipeg Jets.
“He did great up there, and he took it right until the end, but we’re obviously excited to have him back,” said Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk, a former Jet of renown himself. “He’ll be a big boost to our lineup, that’s for sure.”
The 6-4-0-1 Colts’ next game is Wednesday in Belleville.
Scheifele, returned to the OHL team on Sunday, says his time with the Jets was an amazing ride.
“To get to play in a few NHL games has been a dream,” he said. “Playing against the best players in the world (has been) a great feeling.”
“To come back here and share some stories with the guys, that’s really cool,” Scheifele added.
His return comes at an opportune time for the Colts, who have been a one-line team this season.
Scheifele;s wingers from training camp, Tanner Pearson and Colin Behenna, have since teamed up with undrafted centreman Zach Hall to create the highest-scoring trio in the OHL this year.
But beyond those three, no other player has more than five points in Barrie’s 11 games.
“So far this year, we’ve had one line, pretty much, providing a huge part of our offence,” said Hawerchuk, who doesn’t plan to use Scheifele on that unit at this point.
“Now, we should be able to put out two strong offensive lines, and that’s always more difficult to defend.”
Hawerchuk figures that Scheifele’s time in the NHL will allow him to show a dramatic improvement over last year, when the first-year OHL player finished fourth in rookie scoring with 75 points in 66 games.
“I think you’re going to see how much stronger his skating is, and all his reads,” Hawerchuk said. “Playing up there that long, he’s gotten quicker, and (he’s) going to give us good depth up front.”
Hawerchuk has already spoken to Scheifele about how to avoid a letdown when coming back to the OHL.
“(He said) it’s going to be an adjustment for sure (to return to junior), but you have to take it as an obstacle and work hard,” Scheifele said.
“You can’t take any days off and you can’t think that you’re too good for the league. I’m going to give it my all.”
That kind of thought process highlights another reason Hawerchuk is happy to have Scheifele back.
“He’s always been a great leader,” said the coach. “His work ethic on and off the ice is very positive for the rest of the guys, especially the young guys.”
Scheifele, who sent a text to teammate Pearson telling him to “watch out” in the team’s scoring race, plans to hit the ground running.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice with (my teammates) and pushing them,” Scheifele said.
And although visions of what might be for next season will undoubtedly linger in his thoughts, Scheifele is still pleased with where he is now.
“I’m excited to go back (to Winnipeg) next year,” he said. “It’s a fun city with great fans.
“I am sad that I can’t be there now, but I’m happy I’m back in Barrie.”
On Monday, Scheifele was named to the Team OHL roster competing against Russia in the 2011 Subway Series. The OHL leg of the six-game series is Nov. 10 in Ottawa and No. 14 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.