Story by River Foster (Portageonline.com)
The Portage Terriers faced some adversity late but were able to fend off the Winnipeg Freeze for the second straight night. The Terriers came away with a 6-5 victory and extended their win streak to four games.
Another streak was extended in the first period as Daniel Siso fed a cutting Ryan Botterill, who ripped a shot low on the blocker side to open the scoring. Botterill has a goal in three straight games and has ten goals in his last ten games.
The Freeze responded late in the period as Nathan Lenoski was able to get the puck out of a jam on the sideboards and gave Eric Mork some open space. Mork used this to his advantage and fired the puck top shelf. This would tie the game at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Winnipeg took their first lead of the game just over a minute into the second when Elliot Perreault brought the puck into the zone in a 2-on-1. He cut toward the slot, got around the defender, and simultaneously brought Terriers’ goalie Jayden Catellier down to the ice. Perreault stretched out his stick and slid the puck into the back of the net.
Midway through the frame, Matt McLeod took a shot from the point and hit a body in front. Noah Wagner fanned on the rebound attempt but the puck laid right in front of the wide-open cage for Gavin Klaassen to tap in, tying the game 2-2.
Klaassen wasn’t done there. Less than five minutes later, the Ypsilanti, Michigan native passed the puck to Austin Peters at the side of the net, took two strides toward the net, got the puck right back and fired it past Michael O’Sullivan.
Portage didn’t hold this lead for long as former Terrier Naaman Hofer kept the puck in the offensive zone on the power-play and immediately took a shot on net that found its way in.
The second period had one more goal left in it as Botterill tried to make the pass across to Hayden Lacquette on the rush but the puck was knocked away by a defender. However, the puck went right back to Botterill, and he tried once more, this time successfully making the pass to Lacquette, who tapped in the one-timer. Portage held the 4-3 lead into the final frame.
Matt McLeod scored his seventh and eighth goal of the season in the third to build the Terrier lead up to 6-3. The first was a shot from the point, and the second was a wrap-around on the power-play.
The game seemed to be all but over until Elliot Perreault created a neutral zone turnover and sprung himself on the breakaway. The Winnipegger picked up his second goal of the night and gave the Freeze some life with less than two minutes to go.
With just 52 seconds left to play, Winnipeg was putting on the pressure, and Aiden Dufault received the puck at the top of the circle. He fired the puck high and made it a one-goal game.
While the Freeze had a few chances, the Dogs were able to play some solid defence and come away with the 6-5 victory.
After only having one goal all season leading up to this game, forward Gavin Klaassen was excited to get a couple of pucks across the red line.
“It felt so good to finally get one. My linemates set me up, and I just had to put those home,” says Klaassen. “I’m thankful for my teammates. It was a good game.”
This was the second game in a row where the Terriers only had three lines worth of forwards. Klaassen outlines how they got through being short a few guys.
“It was a little funny because one of our forwards was a D-man normally, Hayden Lacquette,” Klaassen continues. “You just have to play hockey at the end of the day. Whatever happens, happens. You just have to get on the ice and play.”
The Terriers will have just two days off before hitting the road to Selkirk on Tuesday for a battle with the Steelers.