Scoring four unanswered first-period goals, the Portage Terriers defeated the Winnipeg Saints 6-1 on Thursday in Portage la Prairie to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Manitoba Junior Hockey League final series.
While the Saints face elimination on Saturday when the series returns to Winnipeg for Game 4 at the Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m., the Terriers are poised to repeat as MJHL champions.
The MJHL champions will then play the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League winner in the ANAVET Cup regional series. In the best-of-seven SJHL final, the Humboldt Broncos and Weyburn Red Wings were tied 1-1 heading into game 3 on Thursday in Weyburn.
Portage led 4-0 after the first period and 6-1 after the second; however the Saints outshot the Terriers 31-25 in the game with Terriers goaltender Adam Iwan named the game’s first star.
"We scored on our chances and seemed to find ways to get to loose pucks. We played real well in the first period. Once again, I thought Iwan was our best player on the ice," Terriers head coach Blake Spiller told CFRY 920 radio.
"On Saturday, they’re going to throw everything at us. That team (the Saints) went through a lot of adversity to get here, they’re not going to quit. Their systems are good, we just found ways to get the puck in the net. They’ve got a lot of character and they’re not going to go out quietly."
The Terriers went up 2-0 before the game was three minutes old. Brendan Harms opened the scoring on the power play at 1:36, followed by Connor Faupel’s even-strength marker at 2:40. Harms scored his second of the night wtih 5:55 left in the first frame for a 3-0 lead and the Saints changed goaltenders, replacing Addision Herosian with Teagan Sacher.
Zack Waldvogel scored Portage’s fourth goal at 18:19 of the first for a 4-0 lead heading into the second frame.
Andrew Wiebe scored back-to-back goals in the second with a shorthanded marker at 12:34 and his second of night at 17:18. The Saints got on the board with a goal by Myles Nykoluk with 24 seconds left in the second period.
The ANAVET Cup winner is the regional representative at the RBC Cup national junior hockey championship on May 5-13 in Humboldt where the Broncos are the host team. However, if the Broncos win the SJHL championship, the MJHL winner will earn the RBC berth regardless of the outcome of the ANAVET Cup series.