The Portage Terriers ended the preliminary round of the Centennial Cup with a bang. The Dogs handed the Collingwood Blues their first loss of the tournament tonight, coming away with a 4-3 victory.
Portage's offence went to work early. Just over a minute into the game, on the power-play, Austin Peters carried the puck from end-to-end along the boards. As he reached the corner, he made a shot pass to his side for Ryan Botterill, who made no mistake.
Three minutes later, Brock MacDonald drove to the net through the middle of the ice. He made a pass to his wing from Bryden Kiesman once they entered the offensive zone. Kiesman gave it right back, and MacDonald was able to put it home. 2-0 Portage.
Collingwood did respond quickly. Terrier goalie Bailey Monteith left his net to play the puck but it ended up on the stick of the opponent. Monteith did what he could to regroup but Spencer Young received the pass in front and converted on the opportunity.
Still in the first, Kian Calder made a slap pass to the doorstep on the power-play. The puck went right to Austin McLean, and he redirected it into the back of the net. This made it 3-1 Terriers, and they held that lead into the first intermission.
The Blues scored two quick ones in the second. Carter Diceman beat Monteith on a breakaway, and then, he tipped a shot from the point a little over a minute later.
In the back half of the second period and the first half of the third, the Terriers ended up making eight different trips to the penalty box, including a double-minor. Miraculously, that didn't come back to bite them, thanks to some excellent penalty-killing and a plethora of big saves from Monteith.
The Terriers knew a win in regulation would lock them in as the second seed in their group ahead of the Blues. So, with the game tied 3-3 and 90 seconds left to play, head coach Blake Spiller pulled the goalie. While some fans questioned the decision, they quickly learned that Spiller is a mastermind for a reason.
The second goal of the game from Botterill sealed the deal and sent the Terrier fans home ecstatic. Kian Calder says pulling the goalie was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"I don't think it was planned at all. The guys that were out there realized the situation. Obviously, Blake Spiller does things for a reason. We just wanted to get the job done tonight, and that's what happened."
Calder reflects on the efforts of the penalty killers.
"It definitely wasn't our most disciplined game tonight. We need to tidy things up there but our penalty-kill really showed up tonight. Guys were buying in and blocking shots. Our biggest killer out there is Bailey Monteith. He played an unbelievable game. When a guy is playing like that, you're pretty confident in front of him."
The team captain says a big part of the win was the energy of the Terriers fans.
"They're incredible. We sure felt their support all night. It's awesome playing in front of a crowd like that. Hopefully, they keep coming out in numbers because it's a lot of fun to play for them."
The Centennial Cup will take a one-day hiatus on Thursday before the quarterfinal begins on Friday. The Terriers will face off with the Yarmouth Mariners at 7:30 on Friday, with a spot in the semi-finals on the line.