It had the makings of an epic battle. The two top teams all year in the regular season, Portage and Carman. In the end, the Portage Collegiate Trojans were the last team standing. Last night, in front of a full house in Carman, the Trojans became the first Portage high school students to lift the the Zone 4 Hockey Championship trophy since the Arthur Meighen Squires did it in the year 2000. None of this years players were even alive at that point.
Trojans celebrate the win
JJ Oke scored the go-ahead goal on the power play with 5:46 left as Portage Collegiate edged the Carman Cougars 3-2 and swept the best of three final in two straight.
"They turned the puck over in the neutral zone and just a soft pass right in front of me happened to land on my tape and a hard shot on the ice went five-hole," said Oke when asked to describe his championship winning goal.
Carson Dubois, who was named the Playoff MVP, scored twice in the second period for the Trojans.
"Those guys over there, they gave us a run for our money," said Dubois who had eight goals and five assists in six games and was named the Playoff MVP. "They played hard night in and night out. There's not one thing about this team. It's every single guy, top to bottom. It helps us altogether."
Slade Sotheran and Anthony Lehmann staked the hometown Cougars to a 2-0 lead as they scored 16 seconds apart midway through the first period.
PCI netminder Rowan Cherkas made 35 saves.
"He's unreal and we can't thank him enough," said veteran Brandon Ferg on Cherkas' 60-save performance in the series. "He made some saves I couldn't even imagine trying to make."
Portage Collegiate is the second team in four years to end a lengthy championship drought. The Millers Aces won the Zone 4 title for the first time in 32 years in 2018.
Veteran Grade 12 Carson Dubois was the playoff MVP
Ashton Hlady gets in close
the banner that will hang at PCI for eternity
traditional handshake between the two rivals reminding everyone that in the end, it's about sportsmanship
coach Dave Van Deynze and son Alex celebrate the moment
when family goes head to head, someone has to win
a small size difference for Maddox Shindle and his biggest fan