“The MJHL helped me with confidence,” says Terrier Alumni Brendan Harms. “Blake (Spiller) was one of the best coaches I have ever had.”
With a late birthday, Harms came to the Terriers in the fall of 2010 at 15 years old. Despite his young age he tore up the MJHL posting 63 points in 59 games.
The MJHL thought wasn’t his original plan. “My goal was to always make the Wheat Kings (WHL) but I didn’t make it my first year and I called Blake and he was able to bring me in at 16. During my rookie season Brandon wanted me to come play but I was getting a lot of minutes in Portage and I didn’t want to ruin my college eligibility. I was offered a contract to play for the Wheat Kings at 17 but I also had some schools that were interested. School was a big thing for me and that’s why I decided to go that route.”
The Terriers experienced great success with Harms playing on a line with Brent Wold and Tyler Moore. “It was amazing to win the ANAVET Cup in 2011 when no one thought we had a chance and to go to the RBC Cup two years in a row,” says Harms. “Plus being able to win with my brother on the team was really special. The people were great and I am still in contact with my billet family. It’s weird to think that my billet’s kids are now playing on the Terriers because they were so young back then (Logan and Kian Calder). It’s full circle that I get to watch them now and I try and catch games when I am back.”
Like many players, Geno Romanow who passed away in May of 2020, was important Harms. “Geno meant the world to me especially when I came in at 15. He looked after me from day 1. He was our trainer and equipment manager. He was always taping up my shoulder in my second year when I had issues with it. We always kept in contact with each other. He was a big part of my two years in Portage.”
During his first season in Portage Harms got selected to play on Team Canada West at the world U17’s that were held in Portage and Winnipeg. “It was awesome. The first exhibition game I played was in Portage against team USA with guys like Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba. It was cool to play at that level with so many good players. I didn’t do much but I did take a penalty. The PCU Centre was sold out, it was crazy. Geno even sharpened my skates for me.”
“After my first year in Portage I went down to Fargo (USHL) and made the team. I wanted to graduate highschool in MB and I wanted to come back to Portage for a second year because I knew it was going to be great with a lot of returning players. So I came back to the Terriers and I had a lot more confidence in my game. I had a few injuries but had a great year.” Despite the injury Harms put up 57 points in 42 games. The Terriers won the Turnbull Cup, lost the ANAVET Cup to the Humboldt Broncos, but because the Broncos were hosting the RBC Cup the Terriers were able to go to the National Championship.
Following his two seasons with the Terriers, Harms moved up to the USHL for one season and had 70 points in 64 games with Fargo. “It was a big jump and the speed helped me adjust to the college game. I had some pretty good linemates there in Alex Iafallo (LA Kings) and Dominic Toninato (Wpg Jets). I got to learn a lot about training during the season and got to work on my game.”
Harms then played four seasons at Bemidji State University (NCAA Div I) eventually becoming assistant captain in his final season. “Bemidji was great and it was nice that it was close to home. My family got to come down and watch,” says Harms. Over his career in University he had 88 points in 141 games. “My first season was tough but the last one was great and it kind of brought the program back.”
“My second year was great and so was my third. I had some injury trouble that derailed things. When I returned from injury in my senior year things didn’t end that great. I didn’t have a ton of NHL or AHL interest, but I wanted to keep playing so I decided to go to the East Coast Hockey League.” Harms did have an opportunity after his first year of college to attend the Winnipeg Jets development camp with former teammate Jason Kasdorf (Terrier Alumni).
After Harms’ final college season ended in 2017 he joined the Florida Everblades of the East Coast Hockey League for four games to close out the year. “The ECHL is crazy, it’s a really good league with a lot of good players. They only dress ten forwards. I went to Florida and we only had 9 forwards. The guys were big and strong. I ended up scoring in my second game, but I only played a few games before guys came back from injury and back from the AHL.”
Harms continued his pro career in North America going to the Utah Grizzlies. He put up 38 points in 62 games. “I really enjoyed my time in Utah. It was a rough start as there is a lot of movement in that league (ECHL). I had a great second half to my first year and then my second year I got traded to Greenville.”
Harms continued to see success and had 33 points in 51 games for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Following the 2018-19 season he had a couple of different options. “I got sent to Cincinatti (Cyclones) but I already had interest in playing in Europe, so then I signed in Norway.”
Offence continued to come for Harms who played at over a point per game pace for Lillehammer. “It’s pretty crazy. I was really fortunate that I had a friend, Steph Vigier, who had played in Swan Valley. He had played 4 seasons in Norway and was a big reason I got out there. I even played on his line for a while. He was a great player and lead the league in goals. The Scandinavian countries are like a mini Canada. Everyone speaks English, the fans are great, and the facilities are awesome. I even had a Canadian coach this year in Denmark.”
After his one season in Lillehammer Harms moved over to Denmark to play for Sonderjyske. He ended the season tied for the team lead in scoring with 36 points.
“I don’t have a contract yet but I’m in talks with my last team from Denmark. I have my business degree from Bemidji and I’m working on my Masters. I’d like to play a few more years in Europe. The big thing about playing in Europe are the breaks in the year so you can travel. I haven’t had those opportunities due to COVID, so I’d like to play a few more seasons so I can travel a bit before my career is all said and done.”
Good Luck Brendan!