Offence a non-issue for new look Terriers
(Mickey dumont/Herald Leader) Terrier forwards Ty Enns, left, and Jeremey Leipsic, right, battling in front of the Wolverines crease Saturday during a 7-4 win at the PCU Centre in Portage la Prairie.
Despite losing offensive juggernauts Brad and Shawn Bowles to graduation and Nick Henry to the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, the Terriers are the highest scoring team in the league.
On the heels of a 9-3 thumping at the hands of the Flyers Tuesday night in Winkler, the Portage Terriers find themselves off to a 9-2-0 start, undefeated on home ice and in second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Pretty impressive considering last year’s top line of the Bowles’ — paired with Henry, contributed a combined 218 points in 149 games played.
“With the guys that didn’t come back from last year we had to fill some holes,” said Paul Harland, Terriers’ assistant coach. “Not really knowing for sure what we had coming (into the season), I think we’re pretty happy with the record we have right now.”
Portage has had to rely on players who played secondary roles on last year’s Turnbull Cup winning team to fill the offensive void left behind, and they have admirably answered the call. Jeremey Leipsic, whose 21 points (9G, 12A) is tops in the league, combined with Chase Brakel, Ryan Sokoloski and Adam Wowryk, who are all scoring at a point per game pace or higher, have propelled Portage to 56 goals in the team’s first 11 games.
“You’re not going to replace the Bowles’, that’s for sure, but I mean these guys have done a good job in providing some offence and leadership,” added Harland. “We’re counting on them to continue to do that and hopefully they will.”
Defence on the other hand, is a different story for this year’s edition of the Terriers. In the team’s first 11 games, they have surrendered 37 goals against. Last year’s squad allowed just 123 goals in the entire 60 game season.
“We had the one rough outing there (Tuesday) night, but I think overall our goaltending has been okay,” continued the coach. “You’re not going to be 9-2 if your goaltending is not good.”
Portage is next in action Sunday evening when they play host to the visiting OCN Blizzard. Puck drop set for 6:30 p.m. at the PCU Centre.
News and notes
The weekly power rankings were released Oct. 17, and the Terriers remain in second place in the MJHL’s ranking for Week 4, while climbing to the 7th spot on the CJHL’s national rankings. The MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons sit No. 1 on the national ranks, while the only other MJHL team to crack the list are the OCN Blizzard, who sit at No. 16.