The Portage Terriers picked up a big win last night in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). They won 4-1 over the Winnipeg Blues at Stride Place to remain in the hunt for home advantage in the playoffs.
Chase Brakel and Jeremy Leipsic each finished the night with three points, Curtis Chapman picked up the win for the Dogs between the pipes.
"I thought it was one of those games where the neutral zone was clogged up, and it was hard to find any momentum offensively," says assistant coach Paul Harland. "Defensively our coverage was pretty good tonight. On the PK we were blocking shots, and that's what you need to do to be successful. Chapman made some big saves when we got into penalty trouble but we finally got some momentum in the third and created some good offensive chances to score a couple of big goals."
Scoring chances were hard to come by in a physical first period. The Terriers threw nine shots toward Blues netminder Jacob Gnidziejko but couldn't find the back of the net. They hit the post once but the puck managed to find its way under the goalie before a rebound could be swatted in. Chapman stopped all 10 shots in the period, one of which was a great blocker save on a breakaway.
Portage struck early in the second period. Chase Brakel was left all alone in the slot on a three-on-two and Jeremy Leipsic found him with a pass. Brakel made no mistake and put it top corner to make it 1-0. It would be the only goal of the period. Winnipeg struggled to get anything going through the entire frame thanks to active sticks and great positioning from the Terriers. The Blues only managed three shots on Chapman, none of which were threatening, while the Terriers added another nine to their total.
Two quick goals got the Terriers out front 3-0 five minutes into the third period. James McIsaac scored both. The first was a top corner shot over Gnidziejko's shoulder, the second was off a broken play. McIsaac was left all alone at the side of the net, he then deked out Gnidziejko and slid the puck home into the empty cage.
"It's always fun to get a couple of goals against your old team. I thought my line played well so overall it was a good game," says McIsaac. "We like to do a lot of three on two drills at practice, so we kind of were prepared for that in this one. Leipsic, Brakel and I have built some chemistry between us, we found some space, and it worked out for us here."
The Blues managed a powerplay goal at the halfway mark of the period, but they couldn't seem to build any momentum off the goal. They desperately pulled their goalie with three minutes to go and Terrier forward Ty Enns netted his 26th of the year into the empty net to seal the win.
Chapman says it can be tough to stay focused in a slow game like last night's. "Those are always tough because you have to make sure you're in it. My team did a good job tonight, especially on the penalty kill. We had a couple bad situations in the third and they did a good job of blocking shots and keeping them to the outside. They made it easy on me."
The Terriers next challenge is the Selkirk Steelers Friday and Saturday night. They're only six points back of the third place Steelers, and with two games in as many nights this weekend, two regulation wins would really close the gap.