By Carter Brooks
Photos courtesy of Hockey Canada
The Junior 'A' National Championship - also known as the RBC Cup for the past 23 years - will be making its return to Portage la Prairie. On Tuesday it was announced that Portage would be the host for the National Championship to be held in May of 2020.
Following an exceptionally successful 2015 RBC Cup held at Stride Place in Portage, the Terriers will have their chance to go at it once again at home following the completion of the 2019-20 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season. The first running of the National Junior 'A' Championship occurred in 1970, in which Manitoba donated the Centennial Cup. It will return under a new name for its 50th running in two seasons' time.
Much like the Canadian Hockey League's Memorial Cup - in which the host team automatically draws a free pass to the tournament - the Portage Terriers will have a bye heading into their first game of the five team round robin tournament. The four other teams needing to earn their way in will include the Anavet Cup champ (West), the Doyle Cup champ (Pacific), the Dudley Hewitt Cup champ (Central) and the Fred Page Cup winner (East).
With the championship rounds of the regional tournaments typically completed near the first week of May, the 2020 National Championship is expected to run in the second and third week of May, 2018. The Terriers' Stride Credit Union Arena seats a capacity crowd of 1,975.
Portage la Prairie will be the first city in RBC Cup history to repeat as its province's representative host (2015 & 2020). Portage will also be the first city since Summerside, PEI. to host two RBC Cups (1997 & 2013). Previously operating as the Centennial Cup from 1970-1996, the 2020 RBC Cup will be the third time that Portage hosts the Canadian Junior 'A' National Championship.
The 1973 former Centennial Cup was played in Portage, where the hometown Terriers beat the Pembroke Lumber Kings. Winnipeg has been the only other Manitoban location for the National Championship, as the 1992 Centennial Cup was held in the province's capital.