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Portage Terriers ─ Manitoba’s Team of the Year

The Portage Terriers have added another accolade to their already large list of accomplishments ─ 2015 Manitoba team of the year.

Terriers were honoured at the annual awards dinner of the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

Also nominated for the team award were the world junior curling championship team of Braden Calvert, the Brandon Wheat Kings, who finished atop the WHL standings with 53 victories, the Manitoba ringette team that won the province’s first ever gold medal in the sport in the Canada Winter Games, and the WinMan Wesmen volleyball team that went undefeated in capturing the 18 and Under boys gold medal in the volleyball nationals.

The Terriers ended a 40-year drought at the national junior A level, winning the RBC Cup at home before a frenzied pro-Terrier crowd.

The Terriers put together a season for the ages – only three regular season regulation losses, 53 regular season victories, an MJHL championship and of course the national title.

Hosting an RBC Cup and actually winning the national title wasn’t as easy as it sounds – the last team to do the trick was the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings back in 2005. Terriers’ Head Coach/General Manager Blake Spiller knew it wouldn’t be easy to win it all. And reflecting back, he’s able to look back at that championship run and talk about how things fell into place.

“We gave ourselves a plan we tried to stick to,” said Spiller. “We wanted to recruit a core group of guys and then add some pieces as we went on. I think for the most part we were able to stick to what we wanted to do.

“And we were able to stay healthy for the most part, which I think was a key for us,” noted Spiller. Of those 11 players with 40 or more points, the majority of them played in at least 55 of 60 regular season games, including leading scorer Zack Waldvogel, who played in all 60 games.

And while the Terriers were aware of the 40-year national title drought in the MJHL, it certainly wasn’t their driving factor last season.

“We knew what had happened in the past, but we just wanted to make sure we were as prepared as possible when the puck dropped at the RBC Cup,” noted Spiller.

The MJHL congratulates the Terriers!