The Natives have recently announced the signings of defenceman Logan Johnson and Jared Twerdoclib, forward Ethan Smith and goaltender Dylan Arnold. Two Manitobans, one Saskatchewan product and a Minnesota native are now officially the newest members of the Neepawa Natives.
Jared Twerdoclib, 18, is originally from Brandon, and spent the past five seasons playing for the Bantam and Midget Wheat Kings. After his first four seasons in which the defenceman averaged one goal and seven points a year, the former Dauphin Kings draft pick really came into his own in the 2018-19 season, putting together a four-goal, 24-point campaign, in which he skated in 46 games for the Wheat Kings. Additionally, Twerdoclib added one goal and four points in 11 postseason games.
Goaltender Dylan Arnold also stepped up his game rather noticeably in 2018-19. After spending the prior three seasons with the Winnipeg Sharks (bantam and midget), the 18-year-old netminder moved on to the Winnipeg Bruins Midget AAA team, dressing in 26 regular season games. He put up a very respectable 2.77 goals against average and a .908 save percentage on the season.
Logan Johnson, the lone American signing of the Natives’, grew up in Pine City, Minnesota, where he recently progressed to the Northstar Christian Academy U-18 team. With Northstar, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound blueliner found some offence to his game, as the 18-year-old registered six goals, 19 points and 32 penalty minutes in 53 games.
Forward Ethan Smith grew up in Saskatchewan, working his way through the Estevan Bruins and Notre Dame Hounds bantam and midget AAA programs. The small winger has served as a depth option for the AAA Hounds the past three midget seasons, putting up 12 goals, 28 points and 65 penalty minutes in 116 games.
The Natives will be under the veteran direction of recently acquired Head Coach Ken Pearson for the 2019-20 season. They will look to make an improvement on their dismal 9-43-8 last place effort from 2018-19. Neepawa’s -134 goal differential was the worst number the Natives have posted since the 2015-16 MJHL season.