When one team falls, the other prevails, and while the Terriers are reminiscing on what could've been, the Virden Oil Capitals are relishing in their moment of glory.
The Virden Oil Capitals and Steinbach Pistons are facing off in the MJHL Finals. The winner of the best-of-seven series will capture the Turnbull Cup and punch their ticket to Portage for the Centennial Cup tournament on May 11.
The Oil Capitals took down the Portage Terriers in Game 7 of the semi-finals on Wednesday night at Stride Place. Virden's assistant captain Bray Rookes was pumped up after the double-overtime victory.
"This team had been at the bottom of the league. At Christmas, we had some pretty low lows but now we're at the highest of the highs," says Rookes. "We can be resilient. Down a goal, we score and come back. Down another goal, score, come back. Double-overtime on the road in Game 7, we can score."
Rookes says the game plan against the Terriers was just to keep things simple. They knew how skilled Portage was but did their best to keep the Terriers' shots away from the middle of the ice.
The Dogs were the best team in the MJHL at the end of the regular season and had 19 more points than Virden in the standings. Rookes outlines how they kept that out of their mind.
"We hadn't beat them all year in the regular season, and they were at the top but we've had this underdog mentality all along. We play better when we have our backs against the wall," Rookes explains. "That was proven when we came back after being down 3-2 (in the series) and came back for Game 7. We're pretty resilient."
The defenceman adds they were confident in their ability to score against Portage as the Terriers often switched goalies in the series. This was Rookes first Game 7 experience, and he notes it was one of the craziest atmospheres he's ever played in.
He gives credit to their fans for cheering as hard as they did in enemy territory.
"We had our fan bus out here again. It was great support. They brought their bells and noise makers. We could hear them all game, which was really nice."
On December 6th, the Oil Capitals had a record of 11-15-1. Rookes describes what his reaction would've been at that time if he was told he'd be in the MJHL Finals.
"I would've said you're joking but I kind of knew it all along. This team was good but we were finding ways to lose. That was frustrating. We turned that around with our break at Christmas and never looked back."
With their sights now set on the Steinbach Pistons, Rookes describes what they'll have to do in this series to ensure they're the ones raising the Turnbull Cup.
"They're a big team and are fast. They play in a small barn, too, so we have to get used to that. We played them last year in the playoffs, so we know what they can bring, and we have to match that."
The series begins tonight in Steinbach, with puck drop set for 7:30.