The Minot State Beavers men's hockey program is looking excellent once again and much of that success is due to contributions from some former Portage Terriers.
The North Dakota university is home to forwards Carter Barley, Sheldin Howard, Jay Buchholz, Reece Henry, and Portage's own Joey Moffatt. The local forward is in his first season at the university level and says it's been a smooth transition.
"Coming in here, there's a lot of older guys that have been playing here and they show you the ropes," Moffatt explains. "Playing on a line with two guys I played on the Terriers with, Sheldin Howard and Jay Buchholz, has made the transition pretty seamless for myself."
Moffatt, Barley, Howard, and Buchholz have all scored over a point per game this season to help lead the Beavers to a 12-0 record. Moffatt says a lot of their success can be attributed to the team's familiarity with one another.
"It's pretty easy to keep the mood up in the dressing room when you're going out and winning a lot of games. As soon as you walk into that room, you can tell it's a winning culture," Moffatt continues. "There's one goal in that room, and that's the national championship at the end of the year. That's what we're building toward every night and getting better every day at practice. I think we're really good for that here."
Minot State has been one of the top programs in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) over the past few years. The Beavers won the national championship in 2019, were the runners-up in 2021, and ended the regular season with a 28-2 record last season before being upset early in the tournament. Now, early in this season, they are ranked as the number one team in their division.
The former leading scorer of the Terriers notes if they play to the best of their ability every night, the national championship will have a great chance of returning to Minot.
"With us being ranked where we are, a lot of the time, we're playing teams that are ranked a bit lower than us. So, as long as we play our game and not play down to whoever we're playing, I think we'll be fine," says Moffatt. "With the tournament being in Boston this year, we're not going to have a home crowd. So, being able to get our bench going and get our own guys into it right from the get-go is going to be huge."
The 21-year-old forward was in a Wolverines uniform for all of last season but did so with two different clubs. Moffatt started the year in the North American Hockey League with Anchorage and put up ten points in 24 games but finished the year in Waywayseecappo. When he returned to the MJHL, Moffatt put up over a point per game, finishing the season with nine goals and 21 assists in 23 contests.
The Portage product describes the most important lesson he learned from his final year of Junior A hockey.
"Gelling with the guys around you. A lot of teams have plenty of good players but if guys aren't out there playing for the guy next to them, it's pretty hard to win in those tight games," Moffatt shares. "I think that's something we have here in Minot, which I love. Every guy is out there playing for the guy next to them and we have no outsiders in our room. It makes it a lot easier to go out there and put your body on the line for the guy beside you."
The Beavers will have the rest of the month off before they host the University of Mary on December 2nd.