Monday saw over 1000 Portage Terriers fans attend the MJHL 8-to-nothing-win game with a skating event afterward in honour of Louis Riel Day.
Media manager Cody Buhler says a win is something they always hope for, and to have the skate after their victory put everyone in a great mood.
"Everybody was just ecstatic," notes Buhler. "The skate with the Terriers was perfect. We had about half the team out on the ice. There were lots of kids out there skating with the Terriers, getting to meet them, signing their hoodies, jerseys and shirts, and all sorts of stuff. The other half of the team was brought into the lobby and they were signing their hockey cards. And so this is the first year that we've had hockey cards since the early 90s."
Buhler says fans were thrilled to see cards back again. He explains kids were lined up midway through the third period because they wanted to be there first and to get the players' signatures. The game was sponsored by Tim Hortons who donated hot chocolate and Timbits. The hockey cards were brought to everyone by Canadian Tire.
He says he hasn't been involved in anything like hockey card promotions before.
"I know a lot of other teams around the MJHL have hockey cards in different forms," continues Buhler. "I know in Virden, they had them all together in one sheet and then you could kind of cut them out yourself. I know some other teams are doing hockey cards this year, too. So, we wanted to be a part of that. It's a great way for our young kids to kind of get to know our players a little bit better. You see them out on the ice, but then here, you actually get to meet them in person. You also get to see what they look like at home. You can have their cards and you can remember them that way. It's a neat little souvenir and we were happy with how they went over."
Skate with the Terriers has been done in the past, and being part of different community groups, the team has volunteered at different skates in and around Portage.
"But it was just something that we wanted to do -- to have one officially for anybody after a game, and it just fit with Louis Riel Day being an afternoon game," adds Buhler. "It was a long weekend, fun, and a more relaxed vibe. It was easier to track how many cards we gave away. We probably gave out almost 200 cards and so it was really nice to see that kind of support and that many people stick around after the game."
Buhler says the folks at Styled by Meraki were there and did face painting.
"A lot of the kids were running around with Ts for Terriers on their faces, and the number of their favourite players," says Buhler. "They had some green hair dye that they were spraying on, as well. And so, that went over really well, and it was just a great atmosphere for an afternoon game. The Terriers are getting ready for, obviously, the playoffs that's going to be here before we know it. We actually have a big game coming up in March with Central Plains Cancer Services and the Portage Firefighters Union. They're going to be having custom jerseys. The Terriers are going to auction them off and the players will be wearing them during the game. Then we'll sell them with the money going to Central Plains Cancer Services."
He explains that the celebration will be done in a great way in anticipation of the playoffs coming to Portage.
"We're also going to be having our awards night after our game on the 15th of March," adds Buhler. "After the game, stick around. We'll hand out all of our team awards on the ice. We did that last year and, in the past, it was always done as a banquet. Last year, they changed it to do the award ceremony right there on the ice. That worked really well. And so we're going to be doing that again this year. We're looking forward to that. And then, of course, the Centennial Cup's going to be here. We're still looking for more volunteers. There's always more room for people to help out. There's everything from helping out with the teams to showing them where to get meals around the community, or if they need have questions about where can they get food in town. It's being a team representative. We also need ushers and security people to work in the bar, and the list just goes on and on. If you want to volunteer and sign up, you can contact Tracy Waldvogel by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. That is all on our website, portageterriers.com."
He says it's a busy time of the year for the team, and the players are doing well, reminding you that the Cup will be here before you know it.