Giving up three first-period goals proved costly for the Portage Terriers as they fell 5-3 to the Steinbach Pistons Thursday night. The game was the home opener for the Pistons in their temporary arena in La Broquerie, MB.
The Pistons gave their fans something to cheer about early in the first period. Wyatt Mattfield danced around a Terrier defender and beat Jayden Catellier on a partial breakaway. The Pistons kept the foot on the gas and scored late in the period on the power play and then, with less than a minute to go, Jack Cook’s point shot found it’s way through traffic to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes. Steinbach also outshot Portage in the first 22-5.
Head coach and general manager Blake Spiller said they came out with some jump but it disappeared quickly.
"Actually, the first four minutes of the of the game we were fine but then they just seemed to take over. We weren't winning any battles and we weren't strong anywhere. Our back end was having a hard time getting pucks moving."
In the second period, the Terriers looked like a completely different team. They used their speed and quickness to draw penalties, and ultimately scored their first power-play goal of the season. Cam Bullinger snapped home a wrist shot midway through the frame. Newcomers Nolan Nenow and Gabriel Laflamme picked up the assists. Despite a late 5 on 3 power play the Terriers couldn’t score again. Spiller felt the team started to skate a little better in the middle period.
"This is a tough rink to play in, it's a tiny one, so it was a matter of learning after the first period that you can use your speed and make plays, you just have to do it a little bit quicker."
Former Terrier Brandon Funk extended the Steinbach lead early in the third, tipping a point shot on the power play. Portage didn’t give up. Brett Magarrell started the night as a forward but was moved to defence midway through the second. He scored his first of the season and broke Cole Plowman’s water bottle in the process. Portage then drew within one moments later when Owen Witt danced around multiple defenders and snapped a shot upstairs to make it 4-3. That’s as close as the Terriers would get. James Fuchs added an insurance marker for the Pistons moments later bouncing a shot over Catellier. Portage pulled their goalie in the dying seconds but couldn’t tie the game.
The Terriers finished the night 1/6 on the power play and were outshot 38-37. It’s a quick turnaround for the dogs who will now host Dauphin on tonight at 7:30 pm. They'll finish up a three-game in four night stretch when they host the Winnipeg Freeze Sunday night.