By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
He’s seen a few captains come and go, and for Joe Manchurek, he’s taking a little bit of each of them as he approaches his turn at the helm.
Following the trade of Anthony Cirelli to the Erie Otters at the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline, the baton was passed to Manchurek, now in his fourth year with Oshawa and one of the few remaining pieces of the 2015 Memorial Cup victory.
And while he’s excited about his new leadership role, he says the circumstances that landed him there were tough, and he’ll miss the players who left.
“I was pretty close with all four of those guys,” Manchurek says of Cirelli, Mitch Vande Sompel, Daniel Robertson and Stephen Templeton, who were all dealt away prior to the deadline. “But I’m ready to lead these guys into the playoffs and mentor them so they can go further in their career.”
Manchurek has played his entire junior career with the Generals, tallying 42 goals and 62 assists in 222 games played. The Tecumseh native was selected 79th overall by Oshawa in the 2012 OHL Entry Draft.
Throughout his years in Oshawa, Manchurek has had a trio of captains including, Josh Brown, Michael Dal Colle and most recently Cirelli.
He says all three were great leaders and excellent hockey players, but each of them had different leadership styles, something he’ll be drawing on to lead his team going forward.
“They all brought something new,” he says. “I’ll probably take a bit of each of them.”
Most recently, Manchurek and the Generals defeated the Mississauga Steelheads 5-2 on Jan. 22 at the Tribute Communities Centre. The win pushed the Generals back into first place in the Eastern Conference where they currently sit with a 25-14-3-2 record for 55 points. The rival Peterborough Petes (25-15-1-3) are a close second with 54 points.
Now, the Gens are on the road for a triple-game weekend, starting off against Guelph on Jan. 27 then Barrie on Jan. 28. Oshawa returns home on Jan. 29 to face off against the London Knights, who currently sit atop the OHL’s Western Conference with 67 points, tied with the Soo Greyhounds.