The Portage Terriers are now just five points back of their conference’s final playoff spot. The Terriers defeated the Selkirk Steelers 6-4 tonight on home ice in their final bout with the club this season.
Portage opened the scoring five minutes into the game as Daniel Siso brought the puck into the corner and threw it toward the net. The puck hit a body in front and fell in the crease for Austin McLean to tap in.
Near the end of the frame, the Terriers found themselves on the power-play. Hayden Lacquette fired a shot from the point, and while it was stopped, Brenden Holba put home the rebound and gave the Dogs a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Terriers opened the scoring in the second, as well, when Slade Stanick beat out an icing call, and skated the puck around the boards, up to the high slot. Stanick made a quick pass down low to Mason Smith, who was denied by the pad of Cole Plowman, however, Nate Hinds ripped the long rebound into the open cage and extended the lead to 3-0.
Selkirk began to battle back near the midway point in the contest as Matthew Gerke put home a short-handed marker, beating Chris Fines high on the glove side. Later in the second, the Steelers capitalized on special teams again, but this time they had the man advantage. Connor Tyhy’s shot was tipped by Lucas Brennan and found the back of the net to close the gap to just one.
Former Terrier Sheldon Howard tied the game up in the first two minutes of the third, and the Steelers looked to snatch the momentum away completely, however, Portage showed their resilience.
A minute later, Brandon Funk made a nice move to get around a defender before throwing the puck toward the net for Austin Peters, who was on the doorstep and made no mistake about it. 4-3 Terriers.
Still early in the final period, with Portage on the power-play, Lacquette skated into the slot and faked a shot before dishing a pass across to McLean. He made no mistake and added to the lead, but he wasn’t done there.
After Cameron Hibbert made it a one-goal game once again in the middle of the period, Matt Wisener brought the puck into the offensive zone but stopped up in tight. He waited for his trailing linemates and dished it over to McLean, who chipped in his third of the night to complete the hat-trick and help the Terriers pick up the 6-4 victory.
McLean describes what was working for him in this one.
“I felt pretty good out there today, and my line was doing pretty well,” says McLean. “We were moving the puck nicely and they were able to find me for some easy tap-ins.”
He says the key to the win was their week leading up to this game.
“We were practicing really hard this week, it was probably one of our best weeks of practice,” McLean explains. “We know we have to win these games if we’re trying to make it into the playoffs. So, we came with our best game, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
The Dogs will have a fairly quick turnaround as they return to Stride Place on Wednesday for a meeting with the Winnipeg Freeze.