The Portage community showed just how much they love the sport of hockey during the 2023 Centennial Cup.
Stride Place had a vibrant atmosphere for eleven consecutive days during the tournament. The chair of game day operations, Dave Koroscil, was extremely happy with how smoothly everything went.
"We had a lot of positive responses from the various teams that attended and the fans that followed them. From our perspective, I think it went over without any major glitches," Koroscil continues. "It was a little different than the last one we hosted (2015). This one was a bit longer, with twice as many teams and twice as many games. We're very satisfied with the way it turned out."
Koroscil notes there was a lot of preparation involved to make the event go as well as it did. He says a lot of the volunteers, who also helped out at the last Centennial Cup, found this edition to have fewer hiccups.
"There were some longer days for the host committee because when we had it in 2015, there were no morning games. There were quite a few days where you had to be at the rink fairly early and stay until the conclusion of the evening games," Koroscil explains. "That created some challenges for us, but otherwise, the layout was fairly similar, so it was just a matter of making sure we had enough volunteers. When you host so close together, it made it a little easier to be organized and know what to expect."
Stride Place was jampacked for every Terrier game but Koroscil was also pleased with the fan energy at every game in the tournament.
"Terrier games weren't sellouts but they were all packed buildings. That really gets both teams going. It creates extra energy," says Koroscil. "The one game that sticks out to me was early on. We brought kids from schools into the morning games and it was one of the loudest I've ever heard in that arena just because of 300 school students. They had each picked their team and were cheering them on as the game went on. What would normally be a quiet 11:30 game, the kids made it a great atmosphere for everyone."
He adds the event was a great opportunity to see how the MJHL stacks up against the other leagues across the country. The Terriers proved that the league can definitely compete with the best, finishing in the top four.
"The Terriers had a really good record throughout the event. They only lost to Battlefords. They lost to them in the round-robin and then lost to them again in the semi-finals. We're very proud of what they accomplished this last year. Now it's time to start concentrating on next year."
While the volunteers and host committee put a lot of work into the event, Koroscil says they can't take all the credit.
"It was the host committee and people consider the Portage Terriers the host of the event but it really was the community of Portage la Prairie that hosted this. We had a lot of positive comments about the hotels, the restaurants, and the people in town, how accommodating and friendly they were."