Shaq Merasty (right) of the Portage Terriers battles Humboldt Broncos’ Jonathan Parisien. (FILE PHOTO)
John Lawrence is two wins away from becoming a national champion.
The Newdale native and the Humboldt Broncos went 4-0 during the preliminary round of the RBC Cup — the Canadian Junior A hockey championship tournament that’s being held in Humboldt, Sask. — and will play the Woodstock Slammers in one of today’s semifinals. Lawrence, a 20-year-old right-winger, is focused on making sure the Broncos — who also feature Ryan Marshall from Ste. Rose du Lac — add an RBC Cup to their trophy case that already includes the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League title and the Anavet Cup from this season.
"We just want to keep things going and playing our game and get two more wins here," Lawrence said, via telephone during Friday’s off-day at the RBC Cup.
Lawrence, a former member of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, scored 13 goals and set up 12 more in 37 regular season games for the Broncos. He recorded six goals and eight assists in 15 SJHL playoff games and one goal and one assist in the seven-game Anavet Cup series that the Broncos won 4-3 over the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion Portage Terriers.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound forward chipped in at the RBC Cup with one goal and two assists and would love to cap off his season by winning a national championship, especially since the Broncos are hosting the event. The Broncos played every game at the RBC Cup in front of a sold-out crowd.
"(To be an RBC Cup champion) is something I’ll remember always," he said. "To be at the top level of Junior A hockey would be amazing. … It would be amazing just to celebrate with (the fans) and with the team."
While Lawrence is hoping to reach a personal high this weekend, Minnedosa’s Shaq Merasty left Humboldt with his disappointed teammates on Friday.
Merasty and the Portage Terriers went 1-3 in the preliminary round and missed the playoffs.
This is the second straight year the Terriers — who also feature Dauphin’s Justin Slobozian and Brandon’s Cody Nelson — reached the national event but missed the playoffs.
"We kind of knew what to expect, but it was the same result as last year," Merasty said in a phone interview from the Terriers’ bus. "It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but I thought we battled hard and couldn’t get the results we were looking for."
Merasty, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound forward, led the Terriers with 30 goals in the MJHL regular season, but only found the back of the net twice at the RBC Cup. Both of his goals came in Portage’s 5-3 loss to Humboldt in the final preliminary game.
Merasty wishes he had been able to score earlier in the event and help lift his team to the playoffs, but he won’t dwell on the past. Instead, the 20-year-old, who has committed to playing NCAA Division 3 hockey next season for the Adrian Bulldogs in Adrian, Mich., will have fond memories of playing for the Terriers and reaching the RBC Cup in his final two years.
"We get to take pride in making it to the nationals," he said. "It’s as far as you can go, so we’re not going to hang our heads over it. We’re still pretty proud that we made it this far."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 12, 2012