Local trio gunning for crowns

It’s two titles down and one more to go for Fort Frances native Kyle Turgeon as he and the rest of the Portage Terriers are headed to the Royal Bank Cup in Camrose, Alta. for a chance to be the top Junior ‘A’ team in all of Canada.
Turgeon, an assistant captain for the MJHL champion Terriers this past season, put the dagger into the hearts of the SJHL champion La Ronge Ice Wolves with an empty-net goal in the seventh game of the Anavet Cup final on Sunday night—giving Portage a 4-0 victory and their first trip to the Royal Bank Cup since 2005.
Awaiting the Terriers will be the host Camrose Kodiaks and the two-time defending champion Vernon Vipers (British Columbia), along with the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Wellington Dukes (Ontario).
The Terriers, who open up tournament play Sunday afternoon against the Lumber Kings, will be looking for their first national crown since 1973, when they captured the then Centennial Cup over those same Lumber Kings.
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The aforementioned Wellington Dukes took home the Dudley Hewitt Cup on Saturday afternoon in Huntsville, Ont., where they defeated the host Otters 5-3 in the final.
The SIJHL champion Wisconsin Wilderness ended up finishing the week at the bottom of the four-team field with an 0-2-1 record, but not before falling to the NOJHL champion Soo (Mich.) Eagles by a score of 2-1 in a quadruple overtime thriller last Thursday afternoon that determined which team would head into the semi-finals.
But even that game paled in comparison to what happened on Good Friday as the Eagles were in quadruple overtime once again in the semi-finals—only to drop a 3-2 decision to the eventual champion Dukes.
The biggest story of that game, though, came between the pipes as 16-year-old Eagles’ goalie Jake Paterson made an eye-popping 87 saves in the loss, to go along with the 42 he had made in the quadruple OT victory over the Wilderness.
With the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit expected to have the Mississauga native on their roster at the start of next season, it’s safe to say Paterson will be a name to watch in the coming months as he’ll be eligible for the 2012 NHL draft.
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Moving back to the Fort Frances area, two local players remain in the mix for the NAHL’s Robertson Cup.
Devlin native Jordan Davis and the rest of his Topeka Roadrunners are hosting the six-day long tournament, which gets underway next Tuesday (May 3).
The Roadrunners will be looking to gain a measure of revenge on the Amarillo Bulls, who captured the South Division crown in a 3-1 win in Game 5 of their best-of-five series on Monday evening.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs also will take on both South Division teams in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Fort Frances goalie Ryan Faragher will lead his Bismarck Bobcats into a best-of-three play-in series with the Michigan Warriors to determine the final spot in the Robertson Cup.
A start date for that series has yet to be determined.
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One of the things I like to do here at the office (once I’ve completed my articles for the Daily Bulletin or the Times, of course) is to check out the sports sections of both the Thunder Bay and Winnipeg papers, mainly because they cover sports that hardly get mentioned in my hometown paper back in Sault Ste. Marie (I mean, a Scottish Premier League soccer story? If that ever ran in the Sault Star, I would probably faint in shock).
The biggest story since I got here, however, has to be the continuing saga of whether or not the Phoenix Coyotes will move back to their original home in Winnipeg, which now is slowly inching towards the theatre of the absurd.
I’m not sure how many times the story has changed from “Yes, the team’s moving” to “Oh wait, nope, now they have a buyer and the Coyotes are staying put,” and vice-versa (and even if I tried to do so, I think my head would explode).
I think it’s safe to say most Canadian hockey fans, and undoubtably those in Manitoba, would like to see the Jets come back to their original home, as do I.
Mind you, I also want the Montreal Expos to start playing again in the “Big O,” the Ottawa Renegades to score rogues once more, and the dulcet tones of Brass Bonanza to blast through the Hartford Civic Center as the Hartford Whalers make a triumphant return against the Quebec Nordiques, but I don’t think those will happen anytime soon.
But while many hockey fans would be ecstatic over a return of the Jets, those diehards in Phoenix—even though it may not sometimes look that way given some of their crowds—would be heartbroken if their team was gone.
Let’s face it, the relocation or folding of a team is never a good thing, which is something local fans here have felt with the Borderland Thunder and then the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres.
Even in North Bay, where I went to school for three years, a huge hole remains over the loss of their Centennials, who moved to Saginaw and became the Spirit in the summer of 2002.
Either way, whether the Coyotes move or not, fans are going to be heartbroken on either side, and that is not going to be a easy pill to swallow for the cities of Winnipeg and Phoenix.

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