The Winnipeg Blues are a team built to win now. For veteran players like Josiah Vanderhooft, it makes coming back to hockey after 11 months off even sweeter.
The team went all in during the offseason to help reach the finals. They went out and acquired four veterans to compliment the ten returning Blues from last year and the new rookies coming in to the lineup. The early returns on those moves are promising with the Blues sweeping their September series with the Winnipeg Freeze to start 4-0.
“It’s a lot of excitement and hard work,” Vanderhooft said.
The team is off to a good start, but lots of hockey is still un-played. It’s important that when the days get short and the city gets cold, everyone is able to keep their eyes on the ultimate goal: a Turnbull Cup.
“Everybody on our team is focused on winning the championship and putting everything they have into winning,” said Vanderhooft.
The East St. Paul local has been a big factor in the Blues’ hot start. His nine assists and 12 points lead the league, including at least two points in every game so far. However, he isn’t making too much out of his early personal success.
“Points are just something you get when your team is winning and doing well,” Vanderhooft said.
Vanderhooft did give major credit to his two linemates, captain Brayden Foreman and new line mate Eric Fawkes. Vanderhooft lavished praise on the new right winger who’s just behind him in league scoring.
“He’s a surreal player; I’ve found our chemistry is almost instant,” Vanderhooft said.
The instant chemistry the team has seemingly developed is another big reason for the Blues’ perfect record through their first series. It comes down to experienced players like Vanderhooft teaching the new guys what it means to wear the blue note on their chest.
“It’s really good to be able to give my knowledge down to the younger guys like the older guys did when I came into Selkirk,” said Vanderhooft.
The Winnipeg Blues will need players like Vanderhooft to keep everyone pushing in the right direction if they want to keep winning. The Blues put this roster together expecting a “win now” team. Early on, it looks like that’s exactly what they have.