FORT McMURRAY, AB - The Penticton Vees now know how it feels to be on the other end of a hot start. After the Vees outscored their opponents 8-0 in the first period in two games, it was the Portage Terriers scoring twice in first 20-minutes, en route to a 3-2 win over Penticton in Western Canada Cup action on Tuesday.
The top line for Portage did all the damage in the first as Zach Waldvogel and Brad Bowles scored, as the RBC Cup hosts jumped out to a 2-0 lead after twenty-minutes.
The Vees had a slow start, as the Terrier brought a lot of pressure and even had a penalty-shot near the midway mark of the open frame. Carson Perreaux was taken down by Miles Gendron, who had to leave the game after getting Perreaux’s skate across the mouth; Gendron later returned in the second after getting stitched up.
Hunter Miska stopped the penalty-shot but Waldvogel put the Terriers ahead less than a minute and a half later. Brad Bowles threw the puck from the corner across to Waldvogel at the back-post for the tap-in at 9:31; the Vees found themselves trailing for the first time in the tournament.
Brad Bowles then turned goal-scorer, doubling the Terriers lead late in the frame. Bowles finished off a three-on-two rush with Waldvogel and brother Shawn Bowles at 15:41.
The Vees found their footing in the second period, as they turned the tables and were rewarded early while down a skater. Short-handed, Matt Serratore intercepted a pass at his own blue-line, raced down the right-wing and beat Zac Robidoux on the glove-side at 3:08; his second of the tournament.
The Vees pressed for the equalizer but couldn’t get back on even terms in the middle frame. One of their best chances was a scramble on the doorstep but the whistle blew before Mitch Newsome could tuck in a loose puck.
Portage came close as well, as Shawn Bowles tipped a shot off the post, off Miska and then it trickled on the goal-line before Gabe Bast cleared it from harm’s way.
It was a tight-checking third period before Dane Schioler restored the Terriers two-goal lead seven and a half minutes in. On another odd-man rush, Schioler took the pass in the right-circle and put the shot upstairs over Miska who swung across and threw up the pads; Schioler making it 3-1 at 12:26.
The two-goal deficit was gone in a blink of an eye, as Cam Amantea was credited with his first of the Western Canada Cup just 12-seconds later. A Portage defenseman had his clearing attempt from behind the net, go off a stick then off Amantea and past Robidoux at 12:34.
Penticton tried to press late for the tying goal but couldn’t manufacture anything in the third. Their best chance came off a point-shot by Bast but the wrist-shot struck the pipe behind Robidoux on the blocker-side.
Final Score: 3-2 Portage
Shots: 37-27 Portage
Power-Plays: Vees 0-2 Portage 0-3
The Vees and Terriers now have identical 2-1 records after this afternoon’s contest but the Vees still hold onto first place with more goals scored. The Vees can clinch a spot in the WCC Championship game on Saturday if they pick up a win against Melfort on Wednesday night.
The CJHL on Tuesday announced the final five finalists for their Top Goaltender award and Miska cracked the list. Miska posted 34 wins in 46 starts in the regular season and sported a 1.88 goals-against average, while owning a sparkling .931 save-percentage; he had five shutouts too. The Top Goaltender award will be handed out next week, as part several CJHL national awards that will be announced starting Monday, May 4.