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This article was published 14/5/2019 (283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s wait-until-next-year time for the Portage Terriers, whose hopes for a 2019 National Junior A Hockey Championship title have been dashed.
Fortunately for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League squad, that’s not a daunting proposition. Portage hosts the 50th edition of the national championship next year at Stride Place.
Portage suffered its third consecutive defeat at the five-team tournament in Brooks, Alta., losing 5-4 to the Oakville Blades on Tuesday afternoon.
The team wraps up the round-robin Wednesday night against the Prince George Spruce Kings but will finish last at the tourney regardless of the outcome.
Portage and Oakville twere winless coming into the game, but the victory guaranteed the Blades a spot in the semifinals along with the Spruce Kings, host Brooks Bandits and the Ottawa Jr. Senators.
Ty Barnstable scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period to pull Portage to within a goal. With goalie Nathan Moore on the bench for an extra attacker, Reece Henry had three whacks at the puck but couldn’t slip it past Blades netminder Will Barber with just 16 seconds left.
Joey Moffatt and Scott Mickoski also scored for the Terriers.
Barnstable, 21, is one of a half-dozen Portage players who played the last game of their junior careers against Prince George.
"It’s a little empty, to be honest," the Regina product said. "It sucks right now, but we’ll put our best effort toward that and top off our last junior year. It would be pretty special for all the guys moving on."
The Blades chased starting goalie Ethan Peterson from the net in the opening period, scoring three times on just five shots. They added another goal before the first frame was up.
Spencer Kersten sparked the Oakville offence with a goal and three assists, while Josh Nixon scored once and added a helper.
Defenceman Owen Murray, 16, a finalist for Canadian junior A rookie of the year, will be a key member of Terriers head coach/GM Blake Spiller’s crew during the 2019-20 season as the team builds toward the nationals.
That second chance coming a year from now takes some of the sting out of this week’s shortcoming — but not entirely.
"You make it all this way to compete hard here and it didn’t work out," Murray said. "You feel for the guys who have been here for many years and are on their way out now. Just not being able to get it done for them really sucks."
Earlier this week, Spiller was named the CJHL’s coach of the year.
Twitter: @WFPJason Bell
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 7:56 AM CDT: Changes headline; minor changes to story