The news wasn’t good last week for Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) teams, who saw the league throw in the towel on the 2020-21 season.
That included the Swan Valley Stampeders, who were all obviously very disappointed in the news their season was over, almost three months to the day since the league was put on pause.
Despite that, Stamps Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff, for a second week in a row, signed a player to a letter of intent – this time forward Keefe Gruener of the Manitoba U18 League’s Winnipeg Wild.
“We are very excited to be able to add a quality player and person of Gruener’s character, strong work ethic and skill,” stated Wolff. “We look forward to getting him in the lineup this fall.”
According to Gruender’s head coach with the Wild, Stampeder fans are going to like what they see in the 2004 born skater.
“Keefe is an extremely hard working and intense competitor, who plays a complete 200 foot game,” said Paul Krueger. “He prides himself on being defensively responsible, yet is also quite capable of making offensive contributions to help with his team’s success.”
Gruener, a left shooting forward spent the 2019-20 with the Wild where he score nine goals, while adding 17 assists In the two games the Wild played this season, before things were shut down in early November, Gruener was held pointless in two games.
Stampeder Director of Scouting Mitchell Kirkup as been keeping a close eye on Gruener long before the Stampeders used their first round pick in the 2019 MJHL Bantam draft on the 5’10”, 181lb player.
“To have Keefe commit is very exciting,” said Kirkup. “He’s an intelligent player with a contagious work ethic and compete level. As a responsible player, Keefe wins puck battles, can play all situations, and plays the game with pace,” continued Kirkup.
Believing Gruener is a character person with leadership abilities. Kirkup thinks he’ll be an important piece for the Stampeders moving forward.
Growing up in the city of Winnipeg, Gruener is beyond excited to take his talents to rural Manitoba, and is excited to perform in front of the team’s fan base.
“I was very honoured when the Stampeders drafted me,” said Gruener. “Their staff saw some aspects of my game that they feel will help the team succeed. I look forward to my time in Swan River, and contributing to the team.”
Story written by Brian Gilroy, Star and Times