After a 31-3 season, the Minot State Beavers are heading to the American Collegiate Hockey Association as the top-ranked team.
Carter Barley, Sheldin Howard, Reece Henry, Jay Buchholz, and Joey Moffatt are the five former Terriers on the roster and have all been a huge part of the team's success. Moffatt says they're feeling confident.
"I think we're feeling pretty good heading in. We had a pretty good year, ended up going 31-3," Moffatt continues. "Heading into the tournament being the number one ranked team, we're going to have a target on our back. I think everyone in this room knows that. We just have to go out there and play our best."
Barley, Moffatt, and Buchholz were the Beavers' top three scorers, and all averaged over a point-per-game. The Minot State program is also home to Portage's own Logan Rands, former Virden Oil Capital, along with five more former MJHL players. Moffatt believes the group's familiarity with one another made for a smooth transition.
"You have guys that you've met before in the room there, and you have things in common. So, it's easy to gel quickly. I think that's been big for us and our team's success this year."
This is Moffatt's rookie season in Minot, and he says he's extremely excited to take part in the ACHA National Tournament for the first time. The action kicks off in Boston on Friday.
"There are three games, I think, in the first round, and it's the 13 seed to the 20 seed. We get a bye in that round, and we play whoever wins between the 16 or 17 seed," Moffatt explains. "From there, it's just a regular bracket."
With this tournament being single elimination, it can create a sense of urgency in some locker rooms. However, Moffatt says the Beavers' locker room doesn't fit that category.
"I've never played in a playoff style like that. You just have to approach it like it's just another game. You can't grip the stick too hard or try to do things differently than what we've done all year that has worked. We just have to keep things simple, do the right things, and we'll get it done."
Minot State has seen a ton of success in recent years and is looking to continue building that resume this year. Last year, the team entered the tournament as the two seed but was eliminated in round one by Ohio, a 15 seed.
However, in 2020-21 the Beavers made it all the way to the tournament final. The 2019-20's season was cancelled due to COVID-19 but in 2018-19, Minot State won their second-ever ACHA National Championship.
"All of our fifth-year guys were on that team," says Moffatt. "Coach Was (Wyatt Waselenchuk) was here too. They're just saying to us that you never know what's going to happen. They went in that year as the six-seed or something like that. They had to beat the first, second, and third seeds throughout the week. So, we're going in there knowing that you never know what can happen."
The ACHA Men's Division 1 National Championship runs from March 16-21.