Portage Terriers are the best team in Junior A hockey – RBC Cup champions!
The host Terriers capped a historic season with a thrilling 5-2 win Sunday night over Carleton Place Canadians. The win, before a frenzied PCU Centre audience, snapped a 41-year championship drought for the MJHL. The 2015 Terriers now join the 1973 Terriers and 1974 Selkirk Steelers as national Junior A champions.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Terriers’ captain Tanner Jago told CFRY-Radio. “We’ve worked so hard for this day to come. It’s a dream come true. I can’t say enough about our team. What an unbelievable group of guys.”
“At the start of the year, this was our goal. But now that we have actually done it, it really hasn’t settled in. It’s an unforgettable feeling. It’s a special moment for all of us. We knew we were going to have a great group. We really jelled in August (training camp).”
It was the first time in 10 years that a host team has captured the RBC Cup; the last being the Weyburn Red Wings. And the Terriers’ soaked up every second of the moment: with each player doing the traditional championship lap.
“I feel so happy for our guys,” said Terriers’ GM/Head Coach Blake Spiller, a Portage native who also played for the Terriers. “Everybody always said it was surreal, and unreal. It’s such a long process. To actually get it done, it’s everything you hope it will be.”
“It’s been a long season. It was a tough final game. We kept at it and stuck to our game plan. This is very special. I was really happy to see the clock get to the one minute mark.”
The win did not come without some tense moments. Jordyn Boyd scored a power-play goal in the third period to give the Terriers breathing room: 3-1. The Bowles brothers then added a goal apiece to send the PCU crowd into a championship frenzy.
Terriers received goals from Grant Valiquette, Davis Ross, Boyd, Brad and Shawn Bowles.
“This is amazing, just amazing,” said Ross. “We just took it to them. I wanted to throw my bucket as high as I could. It’s such an unreal feeling.”
The championship run couldn’t have been sweeter for hometown product Zack Waldvogel, who ended his Junior A career in championship style.
“This is amazing,” he said. “I can’t explain the feeling when the buzzer went off. To get it done is amazing. My buddies were here with me all along. To win in front of them is unbelievable. Terriers is a first-class organization.”
Terrier defenceman Landon Peel was all smiles, as he skated around the ice with his RBC championship hat.
“This is the best, surreal feeling,” he said. “It (RBC Cup) was a heavy trophy, kind of surprised me. As for this game, we all stuck together and stuck to our game plan. It really worked out for us.”
Shawn Bowles, who sealed the deal with the fourth goal, was thrilled with the championship outcome.
“We kept it simple,” said the native of Elkhorn. “We knew they were fast. We wanted to chip pucks and keep them in their zone. I really can’t believe the feeling right now. Definitely going to celebrate.”
Carleton Place, who lost the RBC Cup final last season to Yorkton Terriers, were left shaking their heads in frustration due to the outstanding play of goaltender Zac Robidoux, who was named player of the game.
“This is just an unbelievable feeling,” said Robidoux. “When I was told I was playing I couldn’t sleep. This is the best feeling in the world. Fans are loving it, I’m loving it, everybody is loving it. We were able to hold them off early. We overcame their systems and executed perfectly.”
EXTRA POINTS: This was the fourth RBC Cup appearance (2005, 2011, 2012) for the Terriers, who finished the previous three in fifth spot…Terriers’ overall record this season was an incredible 74-6-4.