By Derek Holtom
Great players step up their play when it means the most – and that can certainly be said about Portage Terriers defenceman Sam Huston.
The 19-year-old Brandon native has been a massive part of the Portage Terriers’ championship march this spring, putting up the best offensive numbers of his junior career. And that includes scoring a goal in Portage’s now epic Game 7 victory over the Swan Valley Stampeders, which propelled them into the ANAVET Cup series against the SJHL champion Battleford North Stars.
Terriers are 1-1 in the best of seven series, with three games now moving to Saskatchewan.
Huston has played a key role for the Terriers this season and the tense MJHL final will set the stage going into the ANAVET Cup.
The high drama of the final, which saw Swan Valley tie the game short-handed with seven seconds left in the period, only to win the game on a Reece Henry goal in overtime, was something to behold. But Huston, a veteran who started the year with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (who have since relocated here to Winnipeg), said the team made sure not to lose their composure.
“To let up that late one, that was tough,” he said. “But we knew we would start (overtime) with a power play, and we came close
“The game it was so close, anything could have happened, but we knew we were still in a good position.”
The Henry scored the game-winner only seconds after starter Nathan Moore stopped Matthew Osadick, who had three overtime winners in the playoffs already, on a breakaway.
“Nathan made an unbelievable save to give us a chance to score that goal,” noted Huston. “It was such a great feeling.”
This is actually Huston’s second stint with the Terriers. He was an AP with Portage back in 2015-16. He picked up his first-ever junior assist in two regular season games, and also got to appear in four playoff games as the Terriers won their 10th championship that spring against the Steinbach Pistons.
Now, Huston has come full circle – but obviously contributing a lot more to the team’s success. Huston has put up seven goals and six assists in these playoffs, making him one of the team’s top contributors.
Like we said, great players step it up when it means the most.
“It feels good to be able to get some points,” said Huston. “I just want to get the puck to the net and good things are happening.”
“If you look at the goals, there has been a lot of great passing, which helps,” he added. “And when I’ve had the chance to put it in the back of the net, I’ve been able to do that.”
After such an emotional victory over the Stampeders, Huston and the Terriers had little time to reset their emotions.
“We’re going prepare,” he said, “We’ll get the boys ready to go.