The Portage Collegiate Trojans are now 1-0 after a shootout victory last night.
The Zone 4 High School Hockey League's defending champions took down the WC Miller Aces 6-5 in a shootout in their season debut. Forward Alex Van Deynze put home the shootout winner and says it was the perfect way to kick off the new season.
"It feels great. It's always good to start off the season with a win," Van Deynze continues. "The boys played really good, and it was a fun game to play in."
Van Deynze found the back of the net and dished out an assist in the contest but the biggest factor on offence for PCI was JJ Oke, who notched a hat-trick. Oke found the back of the net in all three periods, including a game-tying goal in the second period and giving the Trojans the lead in the third, however, the Aces ultimately tied the game with three minutes to go.
Last season's Goaltender of the Year award winner Rowan Cherkas stopped 41 of the 46 shots he faced and kept the Aces off the board completely in the shootout.
Van Deynze expects the team to play a lot of tough games like this going forward as he believes they will have a target on their back.
"There's always pressure when you win last year. All the teams want to beat you and beat the defending champs," Van Deynze explains. "We just have to keep pushing. I think we can beat any team in the league."
Van Deynze had over two points per game last season, ending with 51 in total. The veteran has been named team captain for the 2022-23 campaign and says it's a huge honour.
"It feels good. It's always good to be able to lead the boys out there. I'm just happy to be out there with my team."
The Trojans' next contest will be on Wednesday night in Carman but they will return home the following night to take on the Mountain Mustangs at 7:30.