Terriers down Blues in final preseason test
Terrier forward Aidan Buhler wrestles with Winnipeg's Joel MacGillivray during a third period fight Sunday evening at Stride Place. Buhler's fight, along with a pair of goals, had him an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
The Terriers and Blues are becoming awfully familiar with each other.
The Portage Terriers were victorious in their final preseason test, downing the visiting Winnipeg Blues 3-2 tonight to sweep the home-and-home series that marks the end exhibition play, before embarking on another home-and-home set with the Blues to kick off the Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season. A string of four straight meetings between the two teams.
"Overall we played a pretty solid game, obviously we had a couple let downs there but our team handled all that physical stuff well," said Paul Harland, Terriers' assistant coach. "Back-to-back (games) playing the same team, there's a few different little battles (that develop) and guys get heated up with each other."
The Terriers opened the game's scoring thanks to Jared Roy, who one-timed home a pass from Seth Benson on an odd-man rush, up and over the blocker hand of Winnipeg goalie Jacob Gnidziejko. Aidan Buhler increased the home team's lead late in the first, as he broke in down the right side and snapped a shot low, underneath the blocker of Gnidziejko.
Terrier penalty trouble had the Dogs start the second period on a 5-on-3 disadvantage and it took just 29 seconds for Matt LeBlanc and the Winnipeg powerplay unit to strike and cut the Terrier lead in half.
Buhler added his second of the night late in the period, as he jumped on a loose puck in the slot and slid the puck into the Blues' goal.
"We had a chance to look at some guys that are battling here for spots and they showed well," said Harland. "It's not going to be an easy decision here this week but that's good. When you have those types of decisions, it usually means your club is going to be in pretty good shape."
Garrett Armour cut the Terriers' lead back to one mid way through the third but that's as close as they would get, as Portage kept the Blues at bay when Gnidziejko was pulled for an extra attacker in the final moments of the game.
The goaltending tandem of Brendan Benoit and Zachery Bennett split the duties for the Terriers and combined for 24 saves on 26 shots to collect the win. Gnidziejko handled the entire load for the Blues, turning aside 26 shots in the losing effort.
The two teams won't wait long to meet again, as the Terriers open the year Friday night in Winnipeg before the welcoming the Blues to town Sunday evening for their home opener.
"Obviously those will be fairly intense games after building up a little bit of a rivalry here," adds Harland.
Puck drop Friday night is set for 7 p.m., at the MTS IcePlex while the puck drops on the Terriers' season opener at Stride Place Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m.