Terriers battle for top spot
The Portage Terriers are fighting for top spot in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, two-thirds of the way through the league’s regular season.
At press time, having played 39 games, the Terriers were tied with the Steinbach Pistons at 58 points, but the Pistons hold the tiebreaker.
“We’ve got some skill, and we’ve got good goaltending, and as long as we’re coming to compete we do well,” said Terriers head coach Blake Spiller.
Surprisingly, for a team hovering at the top of the standings, the Terriers only have two players in the top 20 in league scoring, with the team’s top scorer, defenceman Hayden Lacquette sitting at 19th with 38 points.
Considering the team’s winning ways, Spiller said that goes to show that contributions have been coming from everywhere this year.
“I think we do get balanced contributions from everybody, including our defence. That’s key, as well,” he said. “I think we need balance throughout, but of course, we’d like to score a little bit more and give up a little bit less. But we’re pretty happy so far.”
Defenceman Brandon McCartney said despite a recent lull in play, the team is looking to fortify itself for the end of the season.
“We’re getting better every day and I think for us, we’re looking at the big picture. Obviously, we don’t want to look too far into the future, but we want to make sure we’re focusing on improving all the little things,” the 20-year-old said.
McCartney said solid team play has been the key to the team’s success to this point in the season.
“When we’re successful, everybody’s playing into their role. Nobody’s trying to do stuff or be someone they’re not. Everybody’s buying into our systems and listening to what we’re trying to harp on every game,” he said.
Beyond that, McCartney said the team also finds the most success when it commits to playing without “taking a shift off.”
Centre Matthew Wisener agreed.
“We just need to play a full 60 minutes and we should be fine,” he said.
The 19-year-old said he has high expectations for the team, which include making a run at Canada’s national Junior A championship, the Centennial Cup, which will be held this year in the Terrier’s home arena in Portage la Prairie.
“We have a really good team here. I don’t see why we can’t make a really good run and maybe even go to Centennial and win it,” he said.
The championship will feature Canada’s top teams from the Canadian Junior Hockey League, which is made up of nine leagues across the country. At press time, the Portage Terriers were ranked 10th in the nation.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.