Tanner Jago will be back in Manitoba to play hockey this winter, and he’ll have a chance to compete for the RBC Cup in the process.
The 20-year-old Brandonite has decided to return to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League after a year of playing with North Dakota’s Fargo Force in the USHL. On Friday, his MJHL rights were traded from the Winkler Flyers to the Portage Terriers as part of a three-team deal and he couldn’t be happier, since the Terriers are hosting the Canadian Junior A hockey championship in May.
"It’s definitely going to be a once-in-lifetime opportunity and that’s what convinced me to come back and not go back to the USHL," the 6-foot-0, 185-pound defenceman said. "It’s going to be nice. It definitely will be a lot better being an hour and a half away from home than a little over five hours. It will be nice to see a little more of the family and be closer to them for a year before going away."
Jago, the 2011-12 MJHL rookie of the year, has already committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Bentley University in 2015-16.
In Friday’s trade, the Dauphin Kings sent 18-year-old defenceman Jordan Thomson of Wawanesa and 19-year-old forward Cameron Whyte of Virden to the Terriers for 19-year-old forward Drake Bodie, 18-year-old forward Landon Plett and 18-year-old blue-liner Hayden Pierce. The Terriers then sent Whyte, 20-year-old defenceman Jon Carlson and future considerations to Winkler for Jago, who had three goals and 13 assists with 61 penalty minutes in 59 games with the Force last season. Fargo finished with a league-worst 14-39-7 record.
White played in 54 regular season games last year with Dauphin — which advanced to the RBC Cup semifinals — and recorded nine goals and 21 points.
Thomson is the wildcard in the deal for the Terriers as he spent time with Dauphin as well as the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers before being traded to the Saskatoon Blades. Thomson, who had a goal and five helpers in nine games with Saskatoon last season, is focused on making the Blades next season and may not come to Portage at all.
Terriers general manager and head coach Blake Spiller knows Thomson would make a nice addition to his team, and he’s ecstatic about landing Jago.
"Both guys are definitely good players and our main focus was getting Tanner Jago, a guy who was a good rookie as a 17-year-old in our league and an all-star as an 18-year-old," Spiller said. "He played a year in the USHL, so his leadership and his character as well as his ability is really huge for our club going forward.
"We thought we had a good corps of younger guys, 19-year-olds and 18-year-olds, but bringing him in will hopefully give us a better chance down the road. He’s a guy that brings all that stuff and definitely has good character and leadership ability and a good player. I’m looking forward to getting him in the lineup."