The Portage Terriers are back on home ice tonight for the first in a set of back-to-back games.
The Dogs are taking on the OCN Blizzard tonight and tomorrow. These two teams have only met once so far this season but the game was cut short in overtime due to a catastrophic injury.
The scouting report indicates OCN is a very physical team, according to goaltender Bailey Montieth.
"They come right at you. They're really aggressive on their forecheck, both on the penalty kill and 5-on-5," Monteith explains. "I think they're a team that's hard to play up there (at the Blizzard's home rink) than they are down here. So, hopefully, we can use that home ice advantage this time around."
The Terriers will have to be strong on the penalty kill in this one as the Blizzard are tied for the most power-play goals in the MJHL, with 29 of their 97 coming with the man-advantage.
Portage has been going through a bit of a tough stretch, as four of their seven losses this year have come in the past seven games. Despite the tough few weeks, Portage still has the second-best record in the MJHL.
Monteith says facing some challenges at this point in the season is actually a good thing.
"It's a long season. We're not always going to be on a winning streak the entire season. There are going to be stretches where it doesn't go our way. I think that makes us better as a team though," Monteith continues. "You don't want to be a team that has had no adversity heading into the playoffs or Centennial Cup. A lot of the older guys have dealt with it but it's important for the younger guys to get their toes wet in situations that aren't going well. We need to know how to get ourselves out of those holes that we dig."
After a November that was below their standards, they're heading into December with five new additions. Portage made an abundance of trades on Thursday night, which shipped out forwards Jamie Valentino and Brandon Funk as well as defenceman Tyler Dodgson and Jacob Ziegler. In exchange, the Terriers are adding three players averaging nearly a point per game in the MJHL this season, along with the rights to two players with WHL experience.
Monteith says these moves should be very beneficial to the squad, and he expects these trades to be a shot in the arm for everyone. The goalie adds he played with one of the acquisitions, Jack Kaiser, at the MJHL Showcase a few weeks ago.
"He had one really good goal on me one time when we were in Winnipeg visiting the Blues. It was a shot right to the middle on a power-play. He was screening me in front and had a beautiful tip. He's really good in front of the net on the power-play. Now, we'll have two guys who are very good at that, (Kaden) Kohle and now Kaiser."
Tonight's contest will be a special one as it is the annual 'Teddy Bear Toss' game, where fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal to throw on the ice after the first Terrier goal. All the stuffed animals that hit the ice will be donated to the Portage Salvation Army branch, which will give them away to children in need this holiday season.
"It's always fun for us as players when that goal is finally scored to go onto the ice and help pickup those teddy bears and maybe snap a couple of photos. Anytime we get to help out to a great cause like that, we're obviously excited to."
The Terriers and Blizzard will hit the ice at Stride Place tonight at 7:30.