The Portage Terriers suffered their first loss of the Centennial Cup on Monday night, dropping a close 3-2 decision to the Battlefords North Stars (SJHL).
It was the first meeting between the two teams since the Terriers beat them in the most recent ANAVET Cup in 2019 and the first time the two leagues had met up period as that didn't happen at last years event.
Some early penalties allowed the Stars to put some pressure on early in the game but Battlefords couldn’t capitalize on the two chances. The North Stars though would eventually find the score sheet late in the period with Steven Kesslering beating Bailey Monteith on a rebound.
Portage looked like they were shot out of a cannon to start the second period. Matt Wisener tipped home a Ryan Botterill pass on a 2 on 1 to tie the game, but that was followed by more penalties. Battlefords would score on two straight power plays when Bradley Blake and Jake Southgate both scored goals through traffic to make it 3-1 North Stars after 40 minutes.
Momentum built for the Terriers in the third frame and eventually Tayem Gislason broke through. He cleaned up a rebound in front to draw the Terriers to within a goal, but that would be as close as they get.
It would be too little too late as Josh Kotai shut the door the rest of the way for Battlefords. Both goalies played well with each team generating 37 shots.
North Stars head coach Brayden Klimosko commented on his club beating the host team.
“You can feel the rivalry for sure, with Manitoba vs Saskatchewan. Our guys fed off it tonight, great energy in the building. Both teams wanted this win and both teams needed this, and you could feel it. Neither side wants to lose, and we were able to gut one out.”
With a 2-1 record in the preliminary round, The Terriers will wrap up their round robin on Wednesday night against the OJHL’s Collingwood Blues. Steinbach will play Battleford's tonight and should the Pistons win outright, the Terriers would need at least a point in that game to clinch a playoff spot. If the Pistons win in overtime or lose the game, the Terriers would clinch a spot at that point.