Murray/Jenner: Off And Running
My Twitter feed was blowing up with scores from around junior hockey all weekend long, while at the same time, my eyes were glued to two key pieces of the Blue Jackets future.
When the Blue Jackets assigned them to their respective junior teams, it gave these highly-regarded prospects another chance to potentially dominate their league and take another step forward in player development.
And, lest we forget -- one more try at competing for a Memorial Cup championship.
They will have Michael Chaput's season from 2011-12 fresh in mind; the 21-year-old prospect returned to the QMJHL to play for the Shawinigan Cataractes, who finished a solid regular season by losing out in the league playoffs. As the host city for the Memorial Cup, they had an automatic bid into the tournament -- and they took full advantage.
Shawinigan bested the London Knights on a memorable championship Sunday in front of a rocking home crowd. There is sure to be no shortage of motivation for Murray and Jenner to follow in those footsteps before their junior careers are over.
Those journeys began last weekend, and the Jenner-led Oshawa Generals got off to a good start by beating Peterborough on the road. Jenner potted a key goal in the game which eventually stood as the game-winner about midway through the second period. It was his first of two on the night, with the second marker coming about four minutes later.
Oshawa's 5-2 win over the Petes put them into a good spot heading to Sudbury the next night, but it wasn't as friendly a result. The Generals got out to an early lead thanks to Jenner's third goal on the weekend, but the Wolves took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission that would be good enough to win.
Murray and the Everett Silvertips are looking for redemption this weekend, and they'll have to do so away from Comcast Arena. Everett is one of four winless clubs in the WHL's Western Conference entering the weekend games, both of which are against clubs seeking their first win. On Friday, the Silvertips head to Kennewick, Wash. to take on the Tri-City Americans. The back-to-back concludes in Vancouver with a Saturday night contest against the Giants.
I spoke with Murray earlier this week, and the Silvertips captain said there's not a level of concern with the club right now. The team is still coming together and trying to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, something that will develop after a few games.
"It's a special year for the Silvertips, being their tenth anniversary and everything," Murray told BlueJackets.com. "We're still trying to figure out some things, and get everyone on the same page. It's still early and there are a lot of new faces in the locker room.
"We have great players on the team and great guys in the room. We're not worried about (last weekend)."
One thing that did concern Murray was the way his team finished Saturday's game. Everett held a 6-3 lead with 12 minutes to play but ended up losing 7-6 in a shootout.
They have acknowledged their errors and are ready to move ahead, Murray said, and the only way to erase the bitter taste of the last game is to put in a better effort next time around.
"We know we didn't play well in our first game, but we bounced back and were better on Saturday," Murray said. "We made some mistakes that we'll learn from and use to improve as the season goes on.
"It doesn't always happen right away. We're all learning together what it takes to be a successful team."