Herriman’s Mason Mannek Hoping To Showcase Talents On Path To NHL
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s Mason Mannek wasted little time in scoring the first goal of the season for the Portland Winterhawks, just 6:34 into the first period to be exact.
The fact that it had been 14 months since anyone in the WHL had scored a goal makes his tally extra special.
“It was an awesome feeling to get the first one,” Mannek told KSL Sports. “It was kinda funny, I thought it was a bad shot to take and then I saw it go five-hole. The guys seemed to feed off of it, which is always good.”
The WHL started play last night with the players living in a COVID bubble.
“The environment is way different. We get tested every other day before we can enter the rink. We have to wear masks everywhere except on the ice,” Mannek explained.
The teams are limiting arenas to around 150 fans depending on the building and trying to keep players in a bubble. To start the season in mid-March is odd, but so is the rest of the schedule.
This season will consist of 24 games and no playoffs. The WHL had to figure a way to get the players some games, some exposure and help them take the next step in their careers.
The WHL has players that have been drafted by NHL teams who have an idea of what their future holds, but for players like Mannek, who are in their last year of junior hockey eligibility, they need this season to prove they are ready for the pro game.
“The main thing for me is just to enjoy every day that I can. I don’t know what the future holds to be honest, so I’m just making the most of my experience here. Show up, ready to work and ready to beat the next guy ahead of me. Control what I can and have fun.” Mannek added.
Mason Mannek has fans in high places. He has played for Joe Sakic and Adam Foote of the Colorado Avalanche. They have both helped guide his career and no doubt have been keeping an eye on him.
The Utah Grizzlies, who are the ECHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, would like a shot at signing a local-born player of Mannek’s skill level, but the odds are pretty good he gets an AHL offer toward the end of this season, which could turn out to be a stepping stone to the NHL.