The Portage Terriers are gearing up for their toughest test of the season thus far. The Dogs will be taking on the Steinbach Pistons for the first time this season tonight on home ice.
These two teams both only have two losses so far this season, with the Pistons being just two points back of the Terriers for first place in the MJHL. Portage is the stronger offensive team statistically, as they have the most total goals scored, whereas, Steinbach is the top-rated defensive team giving up the least amount of goals by a wide margin (allowed 33 goals through 16 games).
While the Terriers are better when it comes to team offence, the Pistons still have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net at a rapid rate. Ty Paisley, Davis Fry, and Travis Hensrud are all in the top four in the MJHL when it comes to points. Paisley and Hensrud are also in the top four in goals scored.
Portage, however, has the top highest-scoring defencemen in the league, Hayden Lacquette and Brandon McCartney. Both of these players have received Defenceman of the Month honours from the league already this season (Lacquette in September and McCartney in October).
All of the Terriers' top six scorers this season are returning players. McCartney believes the biggest factor in individual and team improvement is confidence.
"A lot of our guys last year were rookies, and they were just trying to find their way in junior hockey. Everybody says it's a big transition from AAA to junior but you don't really know how big of a transition it is until you experience it yourself," McCartney explains. "I think a lot of these guys have a lot more confidence with the puck, and they're not making the scared plays they were making last year."
McCartney notes the main thing they're continuing to work on is figuring out everyone's role.
"Guys are still finding their way in some ways. They're comfortable with the league but they're still trying to find their way on our team and find their role on our team. Just improving upon that and figuring out what everyone does best and how everyone that is in the lineup on any given night can help the team win."
The Terriers and Pistons will battle it out tonight at Stride Place, with puck drop set for 6:30.
Tale of the Tape
Terriers: Daniel Siso (7G, 14A, 21Pts)
Pistons: Ty Paisley (10G, 17A, 27Pts)
Terriers: Bailey Monteith (2.35GAA, .907SV%)
Pistons: Dominik Wasik (1.88GAA, .930SV%)