Portage Terriers are officially No. 1 in the MJHL.
The Terriers capped their historic season Tuesday night in Steinbach, winning the Turnbull Trophy with a nail-biting 4-3 win over Steinbach Pistons. Terriers’ ran the table in the playoffs going 12-0, winning the Turnbull Trophy in four straight.
“It’s always a good thing to be the last team standing at the end,” Terriers’ Head Coach Blake Spiller told CFRY-Radio. “I’m really proud of my team. We have a great group of guys on this team. To go undefeated in the playoffs is great. I’m really happy for the guys on our team.
“The last few minutes were a bit nerve wracking for everyone involved. But we did what we had to do to win; just like all season. Good for our guys.”
Terriers’ netminder Justin Laforest was thrilled with the championship. Not to mention, going 12-0 in the playoffs.
“This is amazing,” said Laforest. “No greater feeling in the world than right now. Our team is just fantastic. We came out strong in the game, but we knew Steinbach was going to battle. But, we weren’t going to lose this one.”
Terriers’ forward Dane Schioler was named the playoff MVP. The Winnipeg native was thrilled as he carried the Turnbull Trophy around the ice with his teammates.
“This is very special,” said Schioler, 18. “I owe this to my teammates. We were a bit nervous (coming into the game)…but we knew what we had to do. It was a tough game.”
The Terriers, who are hosting the RBC Cup next month, have now won six MJHL championships in 11 seasons: 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Playing in front of 1,200 thrilled fans at the TG Smith Centre, Terriers held period leads of 2-0 and 3-1. Pistons rallied in the third, pulling to within one goal – 4-3 – but the Terriers successfully snuffed the comeback.
Terriers received goals from the Bowles brothers, Brad and Shawn, Tyler Jeanson and Carson Perreaux. Pistons received goals from Denis Bosc, Tyler Penner and Dustin Loeppky.
“Our team came out hard,” said Shawn Bowles. “We all wanted to end it tonight. We just stuck together. We all know our roles and we come out every night and battle hard. It’s awesome to win this championship. A real highlight in my career.”
Terriers’ captain Tanner Jago summed up the championship: “This championship is unbelievable. We knew it was going to be a grind in the playoffs, but hats off to the fellas. This rink is really tough to play in. Credit to the Pistons.”
EXTRA POINTS: Terriers now advance to the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup (April 25 to May 3.) Terriers will open the round-robin tournament April 25 against host Fort McMurray Oil Barons…Several hundred Portage fans made the trip to Steinbach…Terriers were forced to overtime only once – against Virden Oil Capitals − in the playoffs.