The Portage Terriers are nine days away from their regular season opener, and plenty of decisions still have to be made. 

The most important choice of all is determining what the roster will look like to start the 2023-24 campaign. Assistant coach Robby Moar says they have a core group of veteran players, but everyone else has been fighting tooth and nail for an opportunity.

"We have a lot of newer guys on the team. So, getting everyone to gel together will take some time. We have some guys that came back who can show the identity of the Portage Terriers. Hopefully, it doesn't take us too long to get going."

The Terriers are coming off a season where they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Virden Oil Capitals. They still had an impressive showing at the Centennial Cup, finishing in the final four, however; they will have to the MJHL Championship to return to the national event this time around.

The Dogs will be looking for another successful season, and Moar says that starts with the culture in the locker room.

"You always want to build your identity around the players you have. Blake (Spiller) and Paul (Harland) have a great culture that's already set and continues year after year. We're going to try and instill that in the new guys, and then we should be off to the races once the puck drops on opening night (September 23)."

After rookie camp, training camp, and now their first preseason game, Moar says he's been encouraged by the effort from many of the young players.

"Everybody played pretty solid (in the first preseason game), I thought. We got a nice goal from Reece Gault (Terriers' first-round pick in the 2023 MJHL Draft). I thought he played well. But, everybody was quite good out there."

Portage continues to whittle down their roster tonight in their final home game of the preseason against the Neepawa Titans. Puck drop is set for 7:30 at Stride Place.