The Portage Terriers are travelling to Selkirk tonight in search of their fifth win in a row.
The Terriers and Steelers have met four times this season, and the Dogs have yet to lose against Selkirk. Portage has had fewer available players than they were accustomed to the last two games, as they've had three players suspended and three more out with injuries.
"We're going through a little bit of a tough stretch with the injuries and suspensions," says Terriers assistant coach Paul Harland. "With the amount of hockey we've played, while being short bodies, I think we've done pretty well. The guys that aren't used to getting this much ice time or playing on the power-play are getting those opportunities, and some are taking advantage. Down the road, I think that'll be beneficial to our club."
The Dogs will have one player returning to the lineup tonight as Brenden Holba's suspension is now over, however, Parker Scherr and Kaden Kohle will have to serve two more games. Harland says it's a bit of a different story when it comes to the injuries.
"We're looking forward to the return of Austin McLean. We'll find out what his prognosis is this week. (Slade) Stanick and (Matt) Wisener are out for a little bit of a longer-term," Harland explains. "Hopefully, we'll be able to fill in with the odd AP (call-up) with a full lineup down the road."
Despite being 4-0 against the Steelers this season, these two teams played a set of back-to-backs ten days ago, and both games were highly competitive. The second half of the back-to-back was the game that saw Scherr, Holba, and Kohle being suspended for fighting after the game was over.
With this being the case, Harland knows they'll have to bring their A-game tonight.
"You can't take anybody lightly. Being the host of the Centennial Cup this year, we generally get everybody's best game," Harland continues. "We've some occasions where we haven't been at our best early in games, and it's come back to bite us. So, we need to be off to good starts, especially in Selkirk. They're still fighting for their playoff lives."
Even with all the challenges of late, the Terriers were the first team in the MJHL to clinch a playoff spot after their 6-5 victory against the Winnipeg Freeze on Saturday. There is one team on their heels, as the Steinbach Pistons are just two points behind the Dogs in the standings.
"We don't talk about (the race with the Pistons) too much. Maybe the coaches amongst ourselves a little bit but we certainly don't put that aspect of the pressure on the players. We know we're going to be in the playoffs, and it'd definitely be nice to have home-ice advantage but we'll finish where we finish. Our goal is to be playing our best hockey once the playoffs roll around."
The Terriers will look to keep the wins coming tonight in Selkirk at 7:30. You can listen to the game live on CFRY.