History was made on Wednesday night when the Portage Terriers beat the Winnipeg Blues 8-3 at Stride Place. The win was the 671st regular season victory of Terrier head coach and GM Blake Spiller’s career, breaking the record previously held by Doug Stokes.
“It comes after the 1000 game mark, which was celebrated in December. This one is more special. I talked to Paul before the game and we had a bit of butterflies in the stomach,” says Spiller. “We wanted to get it out of the way. I coached against Doug Stokes. It’s a good honour, and as a staff we are happy with it. It’s good for our organization as well.”
The Terriers played well in what was a remarkably close game despite the final lopsided score. Decker Mujcin had a pair of goals in the first period including one shorthanded. The Blues were outshot 42-20 on the night, but their goalie River Leslie-Toogood kept them in it. Their power play was key for them scoring all three of their goals. It was 2-1 Portage after 1.
The second period was similar to the first, in that Portage played well but couldn’t pull away. Terrier forward Nathan Lenoski scored on a one-timer from the slot but Rhylan Baxter pulled the Blues back to within one on a power play goal over the shoulder of Catellier. 3-2 Portage after 2.
The Terriers started the third period on the penalty kill and Tavon McCorrister tied the game with a shot off the post and in. Midway through the frame the floodgates finally opened. Gabrielle Laflamme scored on the power play, Rhett Perrin banked a shot off a Blues defender and Jesiah Bennett put the puck into the empty net.
Most fans thought the game was over once the empty net goal was scored, but the Terriers had other plans. With 24 seconds left to play Grant Dardis made a beautiful end to end rush and scored his 8th of the season. Off the faceoff Matthew Biros did the same thing and scored with 4 seconds left in the game to make it 8-3.
The Terriers had their three new additions in the lineup from the trade deadline, Rhett Perrin, Aidan Brook, and Jesiah Bennett.
“They’ve only practiced a couple of times. All those guys bring a physical presence and skate well,” says Spiller. “Hopefully we are a better team today than we were before the deadline.”
The Terriers now get ready for a tough test against the Steinbach Pistons on Friday night at Stride Place. Before the game there will be a ceremony recognizing Spiller’s coaching record. Puck drop is at 7:30pm.