The Minot State University Beavers' hockey team has been dominant this season with big contributions coming from some Terrier alumni.
The club has a record of 28-2, while winning their last 13 games, and have secured a spot in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's National Championship Tournament. Former Terrier, and the team's fifth-leading scorer, Reece Henry, talks about the success they have had this season.
"It's been awesome so far. Obviously, as a team, we're doing well this year. It's been an easy transition for me, coming onto this team with a great group of guys and a bunch of veterans," Henry explains. "They made it really easy for me to come in and be an impactful player right off the bat."
Henry spent two full seasons in Portage and was traded to the Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL last year when the MJHL shut down. The forward was only able to put up four points in 20 games in Cranbrook, but he has now bounced back in Minot, totalling 23 points in 30 games this season. Henry says coming to a new situation with some familiar faces set him up for success from the get-go.
"It's huge having (Carter) Barley and then (Nick) Doyle, at the start of the year, I knew those two. It was good, they helped me get to know the guys and feel comfortable in the room, which really helps out on the ice," Henry continues. "Having them here, played a big part in me coming here, and they've really made it easy to find success in this league."
Henry joined the Beavers squad with three other players who have donned the Terrier uniform in Barley, Doyle, and Jay Buchholz. Doyle has totalled 13 points this season and has just returned from injury in recent weeks, Buchholz didn't play a game with the team until the new year but has nearly a point per game, and Barley leads the team in scoring with 36 points.
Barley and Doyle are both in their second seasons with the club and were a part of last year's team that made it all the way to the finals of the National Championship before falling to the number one seed. This year, Minot will be favoured in a majority of their matchups as they are the second-ranked team in the division, only behind Lindenwood University. Henry outlines what's ahead for the Beavers.
"We have three tune-up games this week, and then on March 10, we begin Nationals in St. Louis, which is a 16-team tournament, that's single-knockout," says Henry. "I'm really excited to get going over there. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring back the National Championship to Minot."
Henry describes the most intriguing aspect of competing in a tournament like this.
"I think it's the pressure," Henry explains. "Obviously, there's no playoff series in a tournament, it's one and done. It's desperation mode every game, and you have to be mentally dialled in. Nothing else really matters other than winning. It's going to be super fun, I'm excited."
Buchholz and Henry were both a part of the 2018-19 Terriers' squad that went on to win the ANAVET Cup. Barley spent the end of 2020 on the roster, while Doyle was with the club in the 2016-17 and '17-18 seasons. Henry talks about the most important things he learned during his time under head coach and general manager Blake Spiller.
"Putting on my work boots every single day, coming to the rink with a smile on my face, getting better every day, and being a good teammate," says Henry. "All those things are huge for a team to be successful, and that's what Spiller, and the veteran group my first year in Portage, taught me. I owe it all to that organization for where I am today."
Henry and the rest of the Beavers roster are gearing up for their final outings before the National Championship, the first of which is set for tonight at 7:30.