The Portage Terriers acquired forward Mike Stubbs at the 2023 trade deadline, and he made an instant impact. Averaging over a point-per-game in the regular season, Stubbs was a top-six forward immediately and ended the year on the Terriers' first line.
At the Centennial Cup, Stubbs had three assists in the six games. The Thunder Bay product says the team from his region (Kam River Fighting Walleye) spoke to him about how much they loved their time in Portage and raved about how well the Centennial Cup was run.
"The main thing that will stick out to me was our gutsy quarterfinal win against Yarmouth," says Stubbs. "That was probably one of the coolest hockey games I've played in. The building was almost sold out, and it was such a close game, 2-1 final. That's probably my best memory from the tournament. I'll never forget the feeling of standing on the blue line after that one."
Stubbs says there's no other way he would've wanted to end his Junior A career.
"There's nothing better than competing against the best teams in the nation. It's a perfect way for an overage to end your career because you know you left it all out there. We competed against the best teams in the nation, and we knew we were up there with the top of them. We had a couple of really close games and beat some good hockey teams there."
The Portage Terriers traded for Stubbs' rights, in January, from the SIJHL's Thunder Bay North Stars. Stubbs was coming off a 2021-22 campaign in the OHL with the Mississauga Steelheads and had seven points in 58 games.
"I had heard nothing but good things. There's a lot of Portage alumni from the Thunder Bay area, such as 2015 RBC Cup Champion, Matt Alexander," Stubbs continues. "I heard all these good things about Portage from the guys that have come and gone. I heard good things about (Blake) Spiller and Paul (Harland) but it really did fulfill my expectations. It was a first-class organization. I thought it was an awesome place to play junior hockey."
When Stubbs arrived in Portage, he hadn't played a game yet that season but still finished the year with 29 points in 27 games. He also led the way for the Terriers in the playoffs with eight goals (two game-winners) and two assists.
"It was such an easy transition with the team we had. It was a very old team with us going for the Centennial Cup. So, there were a lot of guys in my predicament where this might be their last chance at a championship, as well," Stubbs explains. "Obviously, I had great linemates. I had the chance to play with Austin Peters and Ryan Botterill for the majority of the year. We all did separate things really well. Peters is a very skilled and fast winger, and I don't think there's a better shot in the MJHL than Botterill. It makes it really easy to play when you have two guys like that on your left and right wings."
Stubbs played most of his junior hockey career in larger markets in Ontario but he believes Portage had the best fans of anywhere he's played.
"Playing in the GTA where you're not recognizable in public because of the population and stuff like that. I came to Portage, and it was such a shock to see how much community support we had," says Stubbs. "It was such a cool way to end my junior career. I saw the big city side of things, and then coming to Portage, where it's a small community that supports the team so well. Even at the end of our regular season, we went on a pretty good winning streak, and I thought the crowd support was a big factor in all that. We would have a great turnout even on a Wednesday night."
#PlayerAdvancement | Congratulations to @PortageTerriers FWD Mike Stubbs (02) who has committed to play @USPORTS_Hockey at The University of PEI.— #theMJ (@mjhlhockey) June 9, 2023
📸 Erica Perreaux/Hockey Canada Images#MJHLHockey #PlayHereGoAnywhere pic.twitter.com/nZHVkAP4Ke
After his impressive run with the Terriers, Stubbs has earned a few more years of competitive hockey as he heads to the University of Prince Edward Island next season.
"I'd like to thank Portage for the help with this, and I'm excited to get things going. I'd like to help the team compete to make the national championship, the same goal as this year," Stubbs continues. "I think as these five years go on, we have a really good recruiting class coming in for our school. Hopefully, as we grow over the years here, we can find a way to get an AUS title."