I'm going to HBIC Correspondent and friend Jeremie Gauvin handle the semifinal info. He was out there in Portage la Prairie all week as a linesman working the event, and he's did an outstanding job in this writer's view. I'll post the goal-scorers after the wrap-up because they deserve a little recognition, but I'll save my comments for the championship game.
The first semi-final kicked off with the Penticton Vees and the Carleton Place Canadians. In the first period, you could tell that both teams were very nervous and scared to make a mistake. When the first period ended, the game was scoreless. In the second period, the same type of play continued as both teams looked hesitant to take a risk. It wasn't until 6:06 into the second, on a delayed penalty, that the Vees would open the scoring. CPC wasn't going to roll over and give up, though, as they would strike with 2:05 remaining left in the second to tie the game at 1-1. In the third, the pace picked up and you could tell both teams were hungry to get to the gold-medal game on Sunday. When the horn sounded at the end of the third, we remained knotted up at 1-1. Off to overtime we went and both teams had many chances, notably having Penticton non the power-play twice. I was starting to think that we might be in for a long game after the two teams played through one extra frame. The second overtime began and, at the 3:43 into the period, CPC would win the game with a chip shot over the Vees goalie's pad. CPC returns to the Gold Medal game for the second time in back to back years.
Goal-scorers included Penticton's Tyson Jost at 6:06 and and Carleton Place's Stephen Baylis at 2:05 of the second period. The overtime winner was scored by Jordan Larson. Guillaume Therien made 36 of 37 saves in his 83:43 of work in the win while Hunter Miska stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced in the double-overtime loss.
With CPC punching their ticket to Sunday, the Portage Terriers and Melfort Mustangs were looking to do the same. The sold-out PCU center was nervous when Melfort would open the scoring at 3:53 of the 2nd period. That lead was short lived when the Terriers would tie things up at the 7:09 mark. Portage would not look back and kept their foot on the gas, striking again at the 8:19 mark and at the 14:50 mark while being shorthanded. Portage had a commanding 3-1 lead going into the intermission, and in the third period we would see a lot more of the same from the Terriers. It was at the 8:44 mark that the Terriers would strike again on the power-play to take a 4-1 lead. Portage would go ahead 5-1 when they would score again at the 9:22 mark on the power play once again. The final nail in the coffin would take place at the 16:31 mark when the Terriers would put one into the empty net. Portage would go on to win the game by a final score of 6-1 and punch their ticket to the final on Sunday evening against the Carleton Place Canadians.
Melfort's lone goal-scorer would be David Heath at the 3:53 mark of the second period. From there, it was all Terriers. In order, they went Garick Gray (7:09 - 2nd), Taylor Friesen (8:19 - 2nd), Brett Orr (SHG 14:50 - 2nd), Zack Waldvogel (PPG 8:44 - 3rd), Jordyn Boyd (PPG 9:22 - 3rd), and Boyd again (ENG 16:31 - 3rd). Zac Roubidoux made 12 saves on 13 shots in the win while Richard Palmer stopped 24 of 29 shots he faced in the loss.
And then there were two. The Carleton Place Canadians endured a double-overtime game against Penticton, scoring in the fifth period to get to Sunday night. The Portage Terriers fell behind against Melfort, but then applied wave after wave of offensive pressure against the Mustangs to claim their place in the final. Only one team will celebrate. Which would it be?
You know what? Let's go to the video. TSN owns the rights to this video of the game, and this video compilation was uploaded to YouTube. I claim no rights on this, but I feel the players deserve more than some writer's words on this one. To the video!
Brian Munz, former voice of the Moose and Jets, was calling the action, and Craig Button was the color man on the TSN broadcast. They did a great job on the broadcast. Kudos to them.
Despite a rather ugly incident at the end of the game committed by one Carleton Place player, both of these teams should be proud of their efforts. However, as the video showed, the MJHL's Portage Terriers won the RBC Cup by a 5-2 score in the gold-medal game, snapping a 41-year drought for the MJHL with their first RBC Cup victory! They also became the first host team to win the RBC Cup since 2007!
For the people of Portage la Prairie, you guys did an awesome job as hosts. Give yourselves a pat on the back because you showed everyone how important hockey is in your community. To the five teams of the RBC Cup, congratulations on amazing seasons and representing your region proudly in the Junior-A National Championship! And to the host Portage Terriers, to the victors go the spoils, so celebrate proudly for being the best Junior-A team across this great nation!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!