Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Mark Scheifele leads Winnipeg in sweep of Edmonton as he leans on his faith in God

It took three overtimes Monday night, and three consecutive overtime games, but the Winnipeg Jets vanquished the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, to complete a series sweep and advance to the next round of the NHL playoffs. Monday’s contest lasted more than 106 minutes — 14 minutes shy of twice the length of a regulation game — and goes down as the longest in Winnipeg’s history.

“It was a battle,” Winnipeg center Mark Scheifele said after the game. “We grinded every single game. There was no easy ice out there.”

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Scheifele, as he has all season, led the way for the Jets. He notched the game’s first goal at the 6:16 mark in the first period, allowing his team a brief lead before the Oilers struck back later in the first. Scheifele’s second goal occurred six minutes into the third period and tied the game, 3-3. It proved to be the only goal that period and forced overtime. Kyle Connor scored 6:52 into the third overtime to get the win for Winnipeg.

Despite the fact that the Jets won the series 4-0, Scheifele quickly commended his opponents. He realized the extra level of effort he and his teammates were required to exert to compete against the Oilers, who feature Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the NHL’s top two scorers this season (105 and 84 points, respectively). Scheifele finished ninth in the league in scoring with 63 points, tops on his team.

“We expect a lot out of ourselves, especially with the guys [Edmonton] has on the other side, like Connor and Leon,” Scheifele said. “You’ve got to bring it every night or they’ll make you pay.”

Winnipeg now awaits the winner of the other North Division series between Toronto and Montreal. The Maple Leafs lead 2-1.

The Jets are making their fourth consecutive playoff appearance, and hope to match or exceed their 2018 run, when they advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Scheifele, the seventh overall pick by Winnipeg in 2011, has been a big part of the sustained success. He was an all-star in 2019 and 2020 (there was no NHL All-Star Game in 2021).

As impressive as his NHL career has been, however, hockey is not the only influence in Scheifele’s life. He acknowledges his faith in God and the impact it has on how he lives his life. In 2019, he described his faith during an interview with NHL.com.

“No matter the time or place, I always have my parents I can talk to, but I know at 4 a.m. if I can’t sleep and something is stressing me out or there’s something I’m dealing with, I always have God there to talk to,” Scheifele said. “It’s something that’s always kept me humble.”

Scheifele demonstrates that his faith is founded on a relationship with God. Instead of merely believing in the Gospel, he actively seeks out community with God and lives out what he believes.

“I think that time spent with just you and God is very valuable time to reflect and be yourself with Him,” Scheifele told Impactus.org in May 2020.

In addition to having that relationship with God, Scheifele also reflects on the importance of faith. For him, faith is about more than what we can see and understand in the physical world.

“[Faith] is an unconditional hope, faith and love in something,” Scheifele said in an interview on The Kingdoms Podcast last month. “It’s not a matter of seeing it. It’s not a matter of seeing miracles everyday, but that’s what faith is. It’s having that hope and faith that God is looking out for you, God has a plan for you and you’re not worrying about your day-to-day stresses knowing that it’s God’s will, not your own will.”

Scheifele and the Jets will rest up as Toronto and Montreal battle it out the rest of this week. That series will be decided no later than Monday if it goes seven games.

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