The Portage Terriers are a Junior A Hockey team based out of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba that play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Terriers were founded in 1942 and currently play out of Stride Place in Portage la Prairie.
The Portage Terriers have an impressive winning history. The Terriers have been MJHL Turnbull Cup Champions ten times; six times out of the last eight years. The Terriers have also been Manitoba-Saskatchewan Anavet Cup Champions in 1973, 2005, and 2011. They were finalists in the 2015 Western Canada Cup and won the Royal Bank Cup at home in 2015. Along with team success, individual Portage Terriers have excelled as well. Some notable alumni include: Bryan Hextall, Black Jack Stewart, Junior Lessard, JP Vigier, Rick Blight, Jason Kasdorf, Dean Stewart and Nick Henry.
The Portage Terriers are committed to helping their young players develop their hockey skills in order to reach not only their hockey goals but their education as well. To view the full list of scholarships awarded to Terriers please see the commitments page. The Terriers take pride in providing a leading level of play for all involved and we hope that you consider us when looking for an elite Junior A Hockey club.
Greatness: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
A History of the Portage Terriers
By Jeff Dyck
The Portage Terriers are one of the oldest and most decorated teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The club was admitted to the league in 1932 and the early seasons saw the team led by future Hockey Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall. Despite winning records in eight of their first nine seasons, the team didn’t hit championship gold until their 10th season in the MJHL. The 1941-42 Terriers dominated the MJHL, finishing with a 15-3 record while averaging more than eight goals a game. They would sweep St. James and St.Boniface to win their first Turnbull Cup. The team followed that up by sweeping Fort William and Edmonton to claim the Abbott Cup as Western Canadian champions. That led to a meeting with the Eastern Canada champs, the Oshawa Generals for the Memorial Cup. The high-powered prairie boys would not be denied, beating the General three games to one to claim the top prize in Canadian junior hockey. The team would go on to be inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall Of Fame. World War II would take it’s toll on the club and with dwindling numbers of available players, the team closed it’s doors in 1947.
Twenty years later, the team made a triumphant return to the junior hockey ranks. The Portage Terriers played a year in the Central Manitoba Junior Hockey League before that league was merged with the MJHL in 1968. After some early struggles, the team turned around with the arrival of coach Murray “Muzz” MacPherson. The fiery bench boss came to the team in 1972 and led the Terriers to a first place finish. They followed in the footsteps of the ’42 team, sweeping Kenora and St. James to win their second Turnbull Cup. The ANAVET Cup series that followed is still discussed today.
The rough-house tactics of the Terriers were too much to handle for the Humboldt Broncos and after going down 3-2 in the series, the Saskatchewan champions refused to continue, giving the title to the Terriers. They kept rolling, beating Penticton for the Abbott Cup and knocking off Pembroke to win the Centennial Cup as national Junior A champions.
The rest of the 70’s and the 80’s featured a lack of playoff success but plenty of record-setting performances. Local product Shane Moffatt tore up the scoresheet in the early 80’s, setting the team record for goals in a season (60) and points in a season (130) in 1981-1982. The late 80’s saw the run of Brad McGinnis, the most prolific scorer in Terrier history. The Saskatoon native spent four seasons in Portage, putting up 405 points along the way, including a record 132-point season in 1987-1988. McGinnis would be part of the team’s return to championship glory in 1990. The team went 43-9 during the regular season and followed that up by beating Winkler, Dauphin and Kildonan to claim the Turnbull Cup. The 90’s brought another decade of playoff struggles, including an eight-year run of first-round exits.
In the early 2000’s, the team looked to be gaining ground and it all came together in 2005. The team not only claimed the Turnbull Cup but won their first ANAVET Cup in 32 years, beating the Yorkton Terriers in a thrilling six game series.
Recent history has been memorable for Terrier fans. Blake Spiller took over as head coach in 2006 and has been re-writing the record books ever since. No Terrier coach has won as many regular season games, playoff games or championships as Spiller. The local product led the team to Turnbull Cup victories in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019. They also took home the ANAVET Cup in 2011 and in 2019. Portage also won the 2015 Royal Bank Cup as the host team. Just like the teams of the past, history beckons the Portage Terriers.
Coach Blake Spiller was named the Canadian Junior Hockey League Coach of the Year in 2019.