The Portage Terriers shook off an early goal against and then hung on late, in their 5-3 win over the Battlefords North Stars in their Western Canada Cup opener Sunday afternoon.
The first 40 minutes was relatively quiet in comparison to a rollercoaster third period, which saw the two teams combined for five goals.
Mackenzie Dwyer and Chase Brakel each scored twice for the Dogs and Ty Enns ensured them of a win with an empty-net goal in the final seconds. Their power-play was red-hot, as Portage went three-for-five on the man-advantage, including scoring three straight.
Ben Allen scored in the first for the North Stars, but then it was the Terriers scoring the next four. Battlefords made a game of it late, as Connor Logan and Keaton Holinaty scored 73-seconds apart to cut down the gap to one.
It was the North Stars opening the scoring five-minutes into the first period, as Allen scored his first of the tournament, spinning off the boards and firing a shot over the glove of Portage’s Kurtis Chapman.
Portage trailed by a goal going into the first intermission but were a Ty Barnstable cross-bar away from tying it.
In the second, the Terriers found their groove, scoring twice to grab their first lead of the game. First, Brakel tied the game after tipping in Dwyer’s point-shot at 9:26, then it was Dwyer having a shot go off him and in from the top of the crease at 16:08.
Portage kept their foot on the gas in the third and it was their power-play doing more damage early. The Terriers got a lucky break, as a dump in kicked-out off the glass and right to Brakel in the slot and he put the puck into an open net just 2:08 in.
The Terriers power-play added another one to go up 4-1, as Dwyer picked up his second goal of the game and on another fortuitous bounce. Portage had a shot miss off the end boards but the puck caromed back out to the side of the goal, where Dwyer forced it up and over Joel Gryzbowski at 9:22.
The North Stars started clawing back late, as Logan made it a 4-2 game at 13:48 of the third. Logan got his stick on the puck after a scramble in front and forced it past Chapman. Not long after there was more chaos around the Terriers net.
Holinaty made it a 4-3 game just 1:13 later, as his shot just squirted through Chapman’s arm and rolled across the goal-line at 15:01.
Battlefords pulled the goalie for the extra attacker inside the final minute and had two close calls but couldn’t manufacture an equalizer. Enns sealed the win for the Terriers win an empty-net goal with just nine-seconds left on the clock.
The win puts the Terriers into second spot in the Western Canada Cup standings, right behind the Brooks Bandits and a point up on the Penticton Vees. The Terriers are back in action on Monday night against the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. Battlefords finishes the weekend with one point and are off Monday, before facing the Bandits on Tuesday afternoon.
The host Penticton Vees face-off against the high-flying Brooks Bandits Sunday night to close out Day Three at the Western Canada Cup. The Bandits beat the Chiefs 5-2 Saturday afternoon and the Vees are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Battlefords. All Western Canada Cup contests will be streamed live online, or on demand, at HockeyTV.com.