The American Collegiate Hockey Association’s reigning Division I men’s hockey champion Minot State has dipped into the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s talent pool, snatching up four players from Manitoba’s prominent 11-team junior A league including defencemen Morgan Poirier and Wayde Johannesson, as well as forwards Braden Billaney and Riley Vautour.
The Beavers’ 2018-19 championship-winning roster featured five Manitobans including four former Manitoba Junior Hockey League veterans and one Kootenay International Junior Hockey League player. Winnipeg’s Adam Wowryk (Portage Terriers, Winnipeg Blues), Justin Metcalf (Neepawa), Rhett Lough (Selkirk, Waywayseecappo, Winnipeg), Portage la Prairie’s Johl Swedlo (Portage Waywayseecappo) and Carberry’s Jordan Robertson (Brandon Wheat Kings MMHL) all chipped in to help the number No. 6 seed Beavers capture the cup. Russell’s Landyn Cochrane also suited up briefly for the Beavers this past season.
Now, just two-and-a-half months removed from their ACHA first place finish in Frisco, TX., Minot is looking to up that number with their recent additions. Johannesson (Arnes), Vautour (Stony Mountain) and Billaney (Boissevain) are homegrown Manitobans, while Poirier (Jasper, AB.) is the lone out-of-province signing.
Billaney suited up for 43 games with the Portage Terriers in 2018-19, compiling 21 goals, 40 points and 198 penalty minutes. Johannesson began the year with Dauphin, but was dealt mid-season to the Selkirk Steelers. He finished the 2018-19 campaign with five goals, 25 points and 104 penalty minutes in 51 games. Vautour split time between the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and the Steinbach Pistons last season, producing 11 goals and 29 points in 53 contests. While Poirier also did half-duty with Wayway and Portage in 2018-19, putting up 15 goals and 29 points on the back-end in 54 regular season games. All four players are expected to attend Minot State and dress for the Beavers in 2019-20.