Story by River Foster (portageonline.com)
The Portage Terriers keep their win streak rolling into March after dismantling the Winnipeg Blues at Stride Place. The Dogs came away with an 11-2 victory, which now gives them eight consecutive wins.
The scoring began just past the midway mark in the first period. Austin McLean entered the zone with the puck and left it for a trailing Slade Stanick at the faceoff dot. Stanick took a shot on net that was stopped but Ryan Botterill was at the back door to put home his 36th goal of the season.
The Portager wasn’t done there. Just two minutes later, Botterill received a pass as he was cutting down the wing in the offensive zone. He fired a shot on net, and while Blues goalie Brock Moroz got a piece of it, it wasn’t enough to keep the puck out of the net. 2-0 Portage.
Still in the first period, Kian Calder got the puck out of a jam on the wall in Winnipeg’s zone and threw it toward the slot. The puck went off a defender’s skate and ended up right on the tape of Gavin Klaassen’s stick, who made it 3-0.
Brock MacDonald followed his own rebound late in the frame and jammed it in to bring the score to 4-0 after 20 minutes.
Austin McLean opened up the second period with a beautiful backhand goal, as he cut through the slot and put the puck right under the crossbar. Mike Stubbs extended his point streak to five games a few minutes later, tapping in a one-timer in tight. Stubbs has 17 points in his last nine games.
The Blues finally were able to get on the board midway through the second but Austin Peters responded shortly after with a short-handed marker. McLean scored again with just 12 seconds left in the frame and made it 8-2 going into the third.
Former Terrier Thomas Kaufield got on the board for Winnipeg early in the final frame but that was as close as the Blues would come.
Kaden Kohle showed off his stickhandling in tight before making it 9-2 halfway through the period, and in the final five minutes, Botterill got the puck on the doorstep again and completed his third hat-trick of the season. Several Terrier fans sent their headwear flying onto the ice after this one.
“It was pretty cool, actually,” says Botterill. “I’ve never seen any hats on the ice before, so that was cool.”
Brock MacDonald added one more late in the game for Portage to bring the final score to 11-2 for the Portage Terriers. This is the first time since 2012 that the Terriers have hit the 11-goal mark (13-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons).
Botterill says the team is playing at the top of their game and outlines what’s been the biggest factor as of late.
“I think we’ve been hard on the forecheck and playing good in the D-zone. We’ve been working on that a lot.”
After another impressive performance, Botterill now has 38 goals this season, one back of the league leader Lucas Brennan and two away from the prestigious 40-goal milestone.
He says everyone in the locker room wants him to end the season as the league’s top goal scorer and gives his teammates a ton of credit for his success.
“It’s been awesome. It’s not just about me though, our team is also playing really well, and that’s why I’m scoring goals,” Botterill explains. “Our team is coming together as a group, and the boys want to get up there and score 40 but we’re also just playing really good as a team right now.”
Botterill and the Terriers will be looking to increase their winning streak to nine on Sunday when they travel to Winnipeg for their last meeting of the season with the Freeze.