Portage la Prairie lifer Joey Moffatt is about to do something he has never before done. For the former highly-offensive Manitoba Junior Hockey League star, the 2020-21 hockey season will be the very first in which Moffatt does not suit up for a team based out of Manitoba’s third-largest city, Portage.
On Tuesday, the 18-year-old announced that he had signed a one-year contract offer tendered his way by the Minot Minotauros of the North American Hockey League, where he intends to play out the coming season.
“I am very excited for the new opportunity in Minot and the doors it could open for the future of my hockey career,” Moffatt told Game On Tuesday. “I have heard nothing but good things about the organization in Minot. The Minotauros are a top-notch club, so it was pretty hard to pass up going down there. I am looking forward to an exciting year in 2020-21.”
Moffatt – who will turn 19 in mid-October – spent the past three seasons playing Canadian Major Junior Hockey with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, where he operated at nearly a point-per-game. putting up 70 goals, 157 points and 91 penalty minutes in 163 regular season games, to go along with an additional 10 goals, 18 points and 16 penalty minutes in 29 postseason contests.
During his time serving under Portage head coach and general manager Blake Spiller, Moffatt’s Terriers went a combined 128-41-11, while outscoring their opponents by 310 goals. Portage won the league championship in 2018-19, before winning the Anavet Cup en route to an appearance at the 2019 RBC Cup in British Columbia.
Following another phenomenal season, the Terriers were in the early stages of the 2020 postseason before the COVID-19 pandemic cut things short for Spiller, Moffatt and the rest of the crew.
“Obviously ending the season the way we did was absolutely devastating,” the 5-foot-11, 195-pound forward reflected. “We had a really good group of guys, and I think we were just finding our groove. My career with the Terriers was amazing. Growing up in Portage and watching the Terriers play always made me want to pull that jersey on one day. My dad also played for the Terriers, which made it even better. I have nothing but good things to say about the organization, and I am very thankful to have played for Portage.”
Despite moving south to Minot where he will live apart from his parents for the first time in his life during the upcoming 2020-21 hockey season, the former MJHL/SJHL Showcase attendee will have one familiar face at his side.
“It’s going to be a new challenge for sure, as my first three years of junior I was lucky enough to have lived with my parents,” Moffatt said. But I’m excited for the change. Jay Buchholz, who I played with my second year with the Terriers, played down there last year and loved it, so it’ll be nice to reunite with him. I’ll miss my folks, and I’ll also miss our old trainer back home Geno Romanow, who we lost this past weekend. He was a huge loss to everyone in the Portage community and will be truly missed. It was like having a grandpa at the rink every day.”
The Minot Minotauros participated in a ‘supplemental’ draft on Tuesday, in place of the annual NAHL Entry Draft, which was put off due to the current pandemic. Each league team had the opportunity to select three players to add to their protected lists for the coming season.
Moffatt – who was one of the 14 players the ‘Tauros’ had tendered qualifying offers to between November 15 and May 12 – will be one of 38 protected players by Minot heading into 2020-21. The previous number of 30 protected players per team was recently increased to 38 to help combat the strain on organizations from situations stemming from the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the lack of proper rookie and training camps this summer and fall.
Fellow Manitoban Carson Cherepak, the 2019 and 2020 Manitoba Midget Provincial AAA Goaltender of the Year award winner has also been tendered an offer by the Minotauros. His MJHL rights belong to the Virden Oil Capitals, while his USHL rights are owned by the Lincoln Stars.
Now with 30 players listed, the Minotauros will be able to make eight selections at the July 21 NAHL Entry Draft. Moffatt will battle for a place on the team from this group already consisting of 15 forwards, 12 defencemen and three goaltenders.