The Portage Terriers are finishing off the preseason on the road tonight. The Dogs are heading off to Virden for a matchup with the Oil Capitals.
These two teams met in the Terriers' preseason opener last week, and Virden came away with a 5-3 victory in that contest. This time around, both teams will look very different as they will be making their final decisions on what their roster will look like heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Terrier defenceman Brandon McCartney says tonight is mainly about preparation.
"We just have to get ready for the regular season. Teams are still not exactly what they're going to look like in the regular season, so I think every game is about getting our legs back from the summer and gelling with everyone," McCartney continues. "We're making sure that we know what we're doing and that come the regular season, we're ready to go. There's a lot at stake for us this year."
The Oil Capitals were the team to end Portage's playoff hopes in the final game of the regular season last year, and McCartney says they haven't forgotten about it.
"We didn't like how we ended last year. We just fell short, one point out of the playoffs," McCartney explains. "Everyone wants to be here, it's a huge year for everyone, and we want to win as a team here. That's our ultimate goal. Do our best in the league and then take that momentum into the Centennial Cup."
The Terriers have a guaranteed birth in Canada's culmination of junior hockey, the Centennial Cup, as Portage is the host city for the 2023 tournament. Despite being a lock for the event, the Dogs are still looking to win the MJHL Championship and prove they deserve to be there as much as anyone else.
With the Centennial Cup in the back of the mind for everyone in the Terriers' organization, the team has brought in quite a few new veterans to the squad. McCartney notes the new guys have begun to fit in well.
"We're already clicking more than anyone would've expected this early on because we're not even done camp yet," says McCartney. "It's great to see that everyone is finding each other out there. We're talking and making new friends, so it's super fun. I can't wait to go to battle with these guys every game."
The Terriers and Oil Capitals will cap off the preseason tonight at 7:30 in Virden.