By Derek Holtom
It’s been anything but a traditional season for 18-year-old netminder Nathan Moore. Despite only playing in six playoff games this year, Moore backstopped the Portage Terriers to series-clinching victories in both the MJHL and ANAVET Cup finals.
Moore and the Portage Terriers have a chance to become national champions starting this Saturday in Brooks, Alta., at the National Junior A Men’s Hockey Championship.
And while fellow netminder Ethan Peterson is the veteran and has played the majority of minutes in the playoffs for the Terriers, Moore knows it’s his job to remain sharp and step in if called upon.
“The good thing for me is even if I wasn’t playing in game, I was still practicing with the team, and we practice really hard,” said the Regina native. “When I wasn’t playing I was treating every practice like a game, so I would be ready if I got the call.”
Peterson, 20, came over in a trade from Swan Valley after he opted to start the season south of the border. Together, Moore and Peterson combine for one of the most daunting netminder duos seen in recent memory. They also became fast friends, which Moore thinks is important when both netminders have shown they can carry the mail for their team.
“We’re friends, we’re more than teammates,” said Moore. “We have a really great bond, and whoever is in the net, we really support each other. We want the best for each other.
“And we’ve both played really well in the playoffs, so it’s really worked out.”
Having made it to the final tournament of the year, Moore knows this is a chance the Terriers do not want to pass up. But he also knows the competition will be fierce.
“I think it’s going to be our toughest match ups year,” he said. “Like us, they’re champions as well. They know how to win, and I think every game is going to be close.
“But I think we match up well with every team,” he added. “We can go with four lines, and our defense and goaltending is good. I think we can give every team a good test.”
And at only 18, Moore is eligible to return to the Terriers next year, meaning he could play in back-to-back national championships as Portage is hosting this event next year. But Moore says the focus is on the here and now.
“It’s really cool going this year, seeing what it takes to win a Turnbull Cup and an ANAVET Cup, and it’s great experience for a lot of the young guys,” he said. “It will prepare us better for next year, but for now we’re focused on winning nationals this year.”