Reserves are running thin for the Portage Terriers as the club deals with a rash of injuries.
But they were still able to find a way to win Sunday night.
James McIsaac scored twice and Kurtis Chapman made 20 saves, as the Terriers held off a pesky rally by the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, hanging on to win 5-3 Sunday evening at the PCU Centre in Portage la Prairie.
“We had nine guys out of the lineup, so it makes it tough on everybody. Some pretty big pieces of our club are out,” says Terriers head coach Blake Spiller. “It was a real good job by our backend to suck it up, grit it out and stick with the game.”
“Obviously with three lines we got tired as the game went on, and hung on,” Spiller continues. “And that's what we needed to do ... it was good to get this one.”
Takato Cox, Ryan Hendrix and Jeremey Leipsic also scored for Portage. Cody Durdle had two goals for the Wolverines, and Landyn Cochrane added one.
McIsaac's two goals were his first since being acquired in a trade that saw former captain Adam Wowryk head to the Winnipeg Blues Friday. Cox, who also came over from Winnipeg in the deal, netted his first with his new team, too.
McIsaac beat Hunter Lorenson at 11:09 of the first period stake the hosts to 1-0 lead. Then just over four minutes later, he struck again. With the Terriers on the power play, Cody Thompson fired a point shot wide of the net that bounced off the end boards and back out towards the front of the goal, with McIsaac quickly pouncing on the puck and firing it into an empty net to make it 2-0.
On a power play opportunity early in the second, the Terriers looked poised to take a 3-0 lead, as Leipsic feathered a cross-crease pass to Cox, who was unmarked staring at a wide open net. Amid many pre-emptive celebrations of fans at the PCU Centre, he fired it wide.
Cox, however, made amends just minutes later, scoring his first goal as Terrier to put the home side ahead 3-0.
But Waywayseecappo would battle back. Just prior to the midway mark of the second, a harmless-looking, knuckling shot by Cochrane found its way past Chapman on the blocker-side to make it 3-1. Then just over three minutes later, Durdle deked around a Terrier, walked in off the point and fired a shot past Chapman on the blocker-side, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Late in the second the Terriers had an opportunity to restore their two-goal lead, as an odd man rush ended with Leipsic down low all alone with the puck. He deked to his backhand and shot, but Lorenson made a steady pad save.
Just past the midway mark of the third, the Terriers broke through with an insurance marker. Kelby Picard put a shot towards the net off the rush, and Hendrix streaked in off the wing to pick up the rebound, batting the puck out of the air past Lorenson.
But the Wolverines would respond. On a power play late in regulation, Durdle scored his second of the game to cut the lead to 4-3 with 1:21 to play, firing a shot through traffic from the point that appeared to deflect off a Terriers' defender before getting past Chapman.
It looked as if the Wolverines were set to complete the comeback and knot the score, but Chapman held his ground on a premium scoring chance for Waywayseecappo in the final minute, flailing his pads while lying on his back as Quinton Cubbon tried to whack the puck in from the slot. Leipsic would add an empty-netter.
Chapman made 20 saves to earn his first win of the season, while Lorenson stopped 35 taking the loss. Portage outshot Waywayseecappo 40-23 while going 1 for 5 on the power play; Waywawyseecappo finished 1 for 2.
The Terriers (14-5-0) are back in action Wednesday, when the host the Dauphin Kings (3-15-2) in the second meeting between the clubs this season. Portage shutout Dauphin 4-0 on Oct. 14 at home.
BUMPS AND BRUISES
Defenceman Layne Toder, who has been out since Oct. 23 due to injury, could return to the lineup as soon as Wednesday ... Defenceman Nick Doyle (lower-body) is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks ... Forward Calvin Bliid (lower-body) is listed as day-to-day .. Forward Ryan Sokoloski (illness) missed Sunday's game and is day-to-day ... Defenceman Riley Thiessen (upper-body) will likely miss the next 2-3 weeks ... Defenceman Jordan Thomson (knee) has been cleared to skate and could return within the next 1-2 weeks.