Buckaroos Identity Starting to Take Shape

In their second year under a new regime, the Portland Buckaroos are starting to form an identity from the net out.
by Jeff Caldwell | November 29, 2021, 7:13 PM ET

A year ago, the Portland Buckaroos just had moved from Denver where they were the Rapids.  Gone now are Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau, leaving a grittier team built from the net out.

Veteran goalie Mike Smith was acquired last season from the Hamburg Gladiators.  His presence in net is allowing 22-year old Carter Hart to spend the season in the GHA for the Central Oregon Cowboys.  25-year old Thatcher Demko will be a more than worthy backup, ready to saddle up when needed.

The Buckaroo blue line is still as solid as ever led by Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse.  The second pair consists of Thomas Chabot and Ryan Pulock while Morgan Rielly and Brandon Montour round out the posse.  This depth allowed Portland to move Ben Chiarot to Edmonton for F Tomas TatarShayne Gostisbehere is the seventh d-man waiting for action.

Up front, this off-season Portland moved captain Eichel and Evander Kane, who was acquired in the Gaudreau deal, to build chemistry on the team.  In return, the Buckaroos lassoed forwards Blake Coleman, propects Joseph Veleno, and Michal Teply, two first round picks and a second, plus a conditional second round pick should Kane be rated next season.  All this helped Portland replenish a herd that was sparse on the farm with four picks in the top 34 of the 2021 SICHL Entry Draft to go along with F Seth Jarvis who was drafted last year from the hometown Portland Winterhawks.

Besides J.T. Miller, Portland is lacking star power up front.  Even with Joel Eriksson Ek out with a back injury for three months, the Bucks have the depth and defensive prowess to play the shutdown brand of hockey that is to GM J,D. Caldwell's liking.  In the Buckaroos first four games, Portland has only outscored opponents 9-6 but it has led to a 3-0-1 record with the only blemish being a shootout loss at Fredricton.

Moving forward, Portland is working to maintain consistent excellence in tough league.  The Bucks are hopefully taking baby steps towards cup contention.



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