1973 Portage Terriers Roster:
Front Row: Richard Christie, Knowlson McDermid* (Executive), George Miller (Asstistant Captain), Joe Sponarski* (Executive), John Memryk, Muzz MacPherson* (Coach), Grant Farncombe (Captain), Ron Horner (Executive), Ty Langton.
Middle Row: Webb Burton* (Executive), Glenn Miller, Bob Miller, Dan Bonar, Randy Hextall, Bill Calder, Don Arthur, Scott Hetherington (Assistant Captain), Harry Kincylo* (Executive).
Back Row: Max Trigg* (Trainer), Al Hilton, Randy Penner, Frank Leswick, Bill Robertson, Warren Remple, John Hewitt, Cooney Strong* (Trainer).
Insets: Doug Wood, Dean Magnus.
How good were the Portage Terriers in the 1972-73 campaign?
So good the man who handled the duties behind the bench ended up with his name on the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's coach of the year trophy - not just for one year, but every year, as the award was renamed in acknowledgement of his accomplishments.
Murray "Muzz" MacPherson led his troops to the MJHL championship, the Manitoba/Saskatchewan title (now the ANAVET Cup), the Abbott Cup (Western Canada) and then the Holy Grail of Junior A hockey, the Centennial Cup (now the RBC Cup) in a season which is still talked about with reverence by those who competed in it and those who supported and covered the squad.
"We were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. To be recognized again in 2008 and to be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame is thrilling and has given us another team celebration after all these years," said Grant Farncombe, who was the Terriers' captain during their magical run 35 years ago. "We continue to be great friends after all this time and do our best to stay in touch with one another. We have a regular reunion every five or 10 years. There's a real bond between us. We dedicate this induction to Coach Muzz, who passed away in 1997, and to all the team's executive and support staff who have passed on, as they all made a tremendous contribution to the team's success."
The Terriers won the MJHL championship by winning 8 straight games without their opponents being able to win a single game. They were clearly the class of Manitoba hockey.
Portage defeated the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champion Humboldt Broncos by default in a series which lives in infamy for the Broncos' refusal to continue playing after winning game five by 7 to 4, cutting their series deficit to 3 to 2, because of what they believed were the overly aggressive tactics employed by the Terriers. The Terriers were dressed and ready to play game six, but Humboldt was a no-show!
The Penticton Broncos of the British Columbia Hockey League had beaten Calgary, the Alberta champs, to be the representative of BC/Alberta. Penticton had a fine skating team, and came close to ending the Portage dream as they led the series 3 games to 1 before falling to the Terriers in game seven for the Abbott Cup.
The Terriers then took on the winners from eastern Canada. Representing the Central Junior Hockey League, the Pembroke Lumber Kings had taken the East and were heavy favourites to beat the Terriers who, according to the Pembroke coach, had no goaltending, no penalty killers and a slow defence.
Pembroke came out flying in game 1 and had the Terriers down 4 goals to 1 midway through two periods before the Terriers turned it on, and went on to overcome that deficit and win game one, 7 to 5 in overtime, at the Keystone Centre in Brandon. Portage won game two, 4 to 2, and the series then switched to the venerable Winnipeg Arena, where sell-out crowds came to watch the powerhouse team from Portage. The Terriers won game three, 3 to 1, before Pembroke won game four to extend the series to five. The Terriers won the fifth game 4 to 2, to take the series 4 to 1 and win the Centennial Cup. Today, that trophy resides in the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The 1972-73 Portage Terriers were a complete hockey team. They had tremendously skilled and dedicated players who came to play hard every night and were prepared as a team to do whatever it took to win. In forty-eight regular season games they won thirty-two times and outscored their opposition 280 to 187. In five best-of-seven play-off series, they won nineteen games and one by default against only six losses, outscoring their opponents 137 to 79! As "Muzzer" said, they don't ask "how you won," they ask "did you win?" - and WIN they did! The Terriers are indeed worthy of induction into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
The 1972 -73 Portage Terriers Hockey team is also a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and Tribune Sports Hall of Fame.