Hockey Season Came To Disappointing End For Herriman’s Mannek Who Was In Playoff Hunt
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – No one’s 2019-2020 hockey season ended the way they would have liked, but for Herriman’s Mason Mannek and the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, it was particularly devastating.
With 45 wins, 11 losses and 3 OT losses, the Winterhawks were in first place overall in the WHL and everything seemed to be coming together for a deep run into playoffs and possibly a Memorial Cup.
“It hurts a lot more when you’re in first place. You work for April and May,”, reflected Mannek on Utah Puck Report, “And then when everyone starts talking about you having a chance to be Memorial Cup Champs or to even compete for the cup, it just hurts. Of course, everyone’s health and safety is way more important, but it still hurts.”
The Winterhawks were given the regular-season championship after play was halted due to COVID-19. The focus now shifts to next season, which will be Mannek’s last in the WHL.
“During our exit interviews, the coaches started talking to me about filling roles as 20-year-olds, and then it hit me, I’m going to be 20, it’s gone so fast.”
The Winterhawks were a young team this season and most of their key players will be returning. This season was a bit of a surprise, after losing Las Vegas Knights first-ever first-round pick, Cody Glass, and last year’s leading scorer, Joachim Blichfeld, to age. These factors, combined with the younger roster, lead to the Winterhawks not being picked as preseason contenders.
It’s no surprise that the coaching staff is looking to Mannek for “blue-collar” leadership and to take the younger, smaller players under his wing and teach them to play with his grit and tenacity.
The team is also looking for him to put up 25-30 goals. Expect to see Mannek get more specialty team time. The point potential was always there, but Mannek was asked to be a role player and was often assigned as a shutdown player this season.
Mannek plans to turn pro after the 2020-2021 season. He’s already on the radar of several NHL teams and his last season of juniors could mean the difference between starting his professional career in the NHL or the AHL.
Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com.
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