Sometimes things line up perfectly. Like a bolt of lighting striking a rod, narrowly avoiding incinerating a building, or a surfer catching a pristine wave.
Such is the case for Lacombe native Ryan Swier, 19, who has excelled in junior-level hockey and now with his team, The Portage la Prairie Terriers, has won the National Junior A Hockey Championship.
From the moment he was traded to the Terriers and started a new season as a forward, the Manitoba-based team had one goal — to play in the RBC Cup championship game on home ice
“It really was exciting,” said Swier of the championship game and winning the biggest trophy in junior hockey. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The Terriers defeated Ontario’s Carleton Place Canadians in a 5-2 showdown in front of a sold out crowd in Portage la Prairie on May 17th.
Although the goal was reached, the big win was still slightly unexpected as the Terriers had been out-played by the Canadians earlier in the tournament.
Again, things lined up perfectly and the Terriers got a rematch in the final game and stomped out the Canadians’ long burning flame.
“Obviously we worked all year for it,” said Swier. “So we were prepared mentally and physically, and with the crowd behind us, we had a lot of adrenaline and played really well.
The Terriers also prevailed in their regular season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, finishing with a 53-3-4 record.
The road to the RBC Cup began with a trip to Fort McMurray for the Western Canada Cup at the end of April. The Terriers lost the first game 3-1 to the host team the Oil Barons. But the Terriers managed to recover in the following games conquering the Melfort Mustangs (6-3), the Penticton Vees (3-2) and the Spruce Grove Saints (4-2).
A final showdown was set against the Vees, but it wasn’t the Terriers’ time to hoist that particular cup, taking a second place finish and still advancing to nationals on home ice.
And with that the Terriers finished off a near-perfect season and are only the third team from Manitoba to win the National Junior A Hockey Championship.
For Swier, hockey is in his blood and it’s the sheer passion and enjoyment from the sport that spurs him forward.
He began playing minor hockey with the Lacombe Rockets at age five. From there he moved on to playing Bantam AAA in Red Deer, midget hockey and in his first junior year, played in Lloydminster.
Now in the post season, Swier said he plans to work, train and spend time with friends and family in Lacombe.
Next season, it’s likely Swier will be lacing his skates up again with the Terriers
“As far as I know,” he said. “There are a lot of changes that could happen though.”
Swier has two years left in junior hockey but he has a few goals that will hopefully propel his career into the pro level. He is aiming for garnering a scholarship to NCAA in the United States.
“The States are more well-known and scouted for higher levels and pro levels,” said Swier. “I definitely have a few options.”