Story Courtesy Portageonline.com
The Portage Terriers are one step closer to the 2022-23 campaign after tonight’s preseason opener. The Dogs were defeated 5-3 by the Virden Oil Capitals in their return to Stride Place.
Despite the loss, Portage put the pressure on early. Just 48 seconds into the contest, Brady Gregoire corralled the puck in the corner of the offensive zone and made a centering pass for Ty Genik, who chipped it past the goaltender. 1-0 Terriers.
A little over a quarter through the first, Virden struck back. Dean Gorchynski ripped a shot on Ty Hogue, which was stopped, but the rebound went to Rhylan Baxter. The puck took an odd bounce after Baxter’s shot, going over Hogue and into the back of the net, tying the game 1-1.
Less than a minute later, the Terriers entered the zone fast and had the Oil Capitals under duress. With the puck loose in front of the net, Brenden Holba’s stick was the one to find it first, and he gave Portage the lead back.
Still in the first half of the frame, Grayson Chell found Jeremy Warkentine in the slot. Warkentine was all alone and waited an extra second as the Terriers’ goaltender sprawled out and then went top shelf with his backhand to make it 2-2.
With five minutes to go in the first, as the Oil Capitals had the man-advantage, the puck moved quickly, and after the extra pass was made, Campbell Epp had a wide open cage and tapped the puck in. This gave Virden the 3-2 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Oil Capitals carried the momentum into the second period as Nolan Wallace fired a shot glove side from the top of the circle, which built the lead up to 4-2. Epp added another marker in the second just after a penalty expired, and Virden entered the final frame with a three-goal lead.
Early in the third, Holba entered the zone along the boards with speed. He made a centering pass as he approached the corner, and Genik was there to tap it home, trimming the lead to two.
Jaxon Loewen made a few point-blank saves in the final period to keep the Terriers alive, however, the score remained 5-3 as the final horn rang.
Forward Brenden Holba says even though the score wasn’t in their favour, he thought the team played well.
“Obviously, we wanted to win but I didn’t think we played too bad. This is for the young guys to feel out the game,” Holba explains. “I think we have some things to improve on but everyone did the best they could.”
Holba adds he’s very happy to be back on the ice competing once again.
“It feels good. Being off for the summer is great and all, but you’re always happy when you can come back and play.”
The Terriers will be back on the ice tomorrow as they hit the road to Neepawa for a battle with the Titans at 7 p.m. That will mark the second of four preseason games for the Dogs, with the regular season kicking off on September 16.