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Coach Spiller, Anavet Cup Champ Terriers Prepare for National Championship

By Carter Brooks

Images courtesy of Hockey Canada

The Portage Terriers are set to begin the 2019 Junior A National Championship in Brooks, AB. this coming Saturday afternoon. 

Coach Spiller, Anavet Cup Champ Terriers Prepare for National Championship

Head Coach/General Manager Blake Spiller and the boys from Portage la Prairie are headed back to the former RBC Cup for the fourth time since 2005. After finishing the 2018-19 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season atop the league with 95 points (46-11-3), the Terriers took the MJHL championship in overtime of game seven at home against the Swan Valley Stampeders on April 22nd.

Portage then moved on to the 2019 Anavet Cup, facing off against the Battlefords North Stars in a five-game spectacle that saw the MJHL champ drop the first contest at home, before responding back with four-straight victories. Of those four-straight wins, the final three came on the road in Saskatchewan, granting the Terriers a spot in the national championship.

Portage will face off against the winners of the four other Junior A leagues across the country, Oakville Blades, Ottawa Jr. Senators and the Prince George Spruce Kings, while also going up against host Brooks Bandits. The Terriers will go up against each of the four teams in the preliminary round from Saturday to Wednesday, before hoping to qualify for one of two semifinal games on Saturday, May 18th. The championship game will go Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM central.

2019 njac road to bracket

Spiller began serving the Terriers as Head Coach following Portage’s loss in the 2005 RBC Cup. He helped the Terriers to 14-straight MJHL playoff appearances, including eight league victories and now three appearances in the national championship. Spiller is by far the winningest coach in team history.

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Although appearing in the RBC Cup (formerly the Centennial Cup) upon numerous occasions, the Terriers have only taken first place in Canada twice, 1973 and 2015 – under Spiller. Portage lost the Anavet Cup in 2011, before winning the RBC Cup, and then despite losing the Anavet Cup in 2015, won the RBC Cup. The Terriers are heading into the 2019 running as Anavet Cup champs.

Portage la Prairie will host the 2020 Junior A National Championship, participating as the fifth team, alongside the Anavet Cup winner.

Portage Terriers Junior A National Championship Schedule

Saturday, May 11 – Ottawa @ Portage – 3:00 PM

Sunday, May 12 – Brooks @ Portage – 8:00 PM

Tuesday, May 14 – Portage @ Oakville – 3:00 PM

Wednesday, May 15 – Portage @ Prince George – 8:00 PM

* All games to be played at Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks, AB.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com.

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