The 2019-20 MJHL season is one the Terriers will remember forever, but not for the reasons they expected. Portage entered into training camp full of hope and excitement as they were preparing to host the 2020 National Junior A Championship (NJAC) in May. Those dreams would never come to fruition as the season was cut short in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Portage came into the season as defending Turnbull Cup and ANAVET Cup champions and the expectation was that they would be able to do it again with a Centennial Cup included. A number of key veteran players graduated including Chase Brakel, Ty Barnstable, and Scott Mickoski. Forward Reilly Funk also departed for the USHL. Portage had a young core returning and added players like Mack Belinski and Logan Christensen.
The Terriers started the season winning their first eight games. There were a few hiccups in October and November as the team adjusted their lineup. Goaltender Noah Giesbrecht was added and put up some of the best numbers in the league for the remainder of the year (1.86 GAA .925 SV%). Carter Barley, Brett Namaka, Koby Morrisseau and Layne Toder were also acquired before the final deadline. Everything started to come together down the stretch as Portage won seven of their final eight games and finished two points behind Steinbach for first.
The playoffs started at the beginning of March with Portage hosting the Dauphin Kings in a best of seven. Portage won the first two games on home ice, before falling to Dauphin in game three in double overtime. The MJHL would play two more playoff games on March 12, before ending the playoffs and shutting down the year for good.
Final Roster 2019-20
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Koby Morrisseau Logan Christensen Carter Barley
Joey Moffatt Mack Belinski Jacob Piller
Kolton Shindle Ocean Wiesblatt Reece Henry
Peyton Gorski Logan Calder Chase Felgeiuras
Sam Huston Parker Malchuk
Caelan McPhee Owen Murray
Layne Toder Lane Taylor
Tyler Van Deynze
*players stroked out are not returning for 2020-21
The Terriers had eight 20-year-old players who graduated from junior hockey: Ocean Wiesblatt, Brett Namaka, Carter Barley, Sam Huston, Noah Giesbrecht, Caelan McPhee, Lane Taylor and Logan Christensen.
Nathan Moore – University of Regina
Tyler Lees – University or Regina
Joey Moffatt – Minot Minotauros (NAHL)
Austin Clyne and Parker Malchuk – traded to the Neepawa Natives to complete the Malchuk acquisition.
Kolton Shindle and Chase Felguiras – traded to the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL to complete the Felgueiras trade.
Austin Flaman – traded to the Humboldt Broncos to complete the Bryson Cecconi deal.
Koby Morrisseau – traded to the Dauphin Kings to complete the trade that acquired him.
Mack Belinski – traded to the Selkirk Steelers to complete the deal involving Carter Barley (99).
Owen Murray – Traded to the Penticton Vees for future considerations.
It’s a unique situation with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MJHL has gone to considerable lengths to make arenas as safe as possible for players and fans. There are a number of changes including a shorter season, games played in pairs on weekends, masks and cleaning protols etc.
For the Terriers there are a lot of changes as well. Equipment manager Geno Romanow passed away in May and Terrier alumni Ed Larkin will be taking over the role. Portage’s roster will look a lot different too with only six players from their main roster returning: Logan Calder, Peyton Gorski, Reece Henry, Jacob Piller, Layne Toder, and Tyler Van Deynze. The Dogs have been acquiring pieces in the offseason including Rhys Raeside, Tyson McLean, and Jack Oleksiuk. They also have a number of young players in the system looking to take a step forward and make the team.
Players to Watch:
Ryan Hofer – (02, 6’2”, 170lbs) The brother of NHL prospect Joel Hofer (G), Ryan is a hard-working power forward who will provide offence. Last season with the Pursuit of Excellence Prep team he put up 51 points in 35 games. His WHL rights are owned by the Everett Silvertips.
Tyler Dodgson – (04, 5’8”, 157lbs) A true rookie at just 16 years old, Dodgson is a defenceman with speed, skill and poise. He had 19 points in 31 games last season with the Winnipeg Bruins of the MU18HL. The Winnipeg product was injured in his first preseason game and will likely be out 3-4 weeks.
Tyson McLean – (00, 5’9”, 170lbs) A veteran forward from Calgary, AB, he was brought in during the offseason from the Humboldt Broncos (SJHL). He had 10 points in 27 games for them last season. He has good speed and work ethic and will provide depth in the middle.
Kian Calder – (02, 5’10, 192lbs) Playing for his hometown team, Calder looks to make the jump to the Terriers this season. Last year he had 59 points in 43 games as the captain of the Central Plains Capitals (MU18HL). He has been very good throughout the preseason playing a physical style with some offence from the back end.