Terriers thump Kings following quiet deadline day
Portage Terriers Lane Taylor and Joey Moffatt celebrate following Moffatt's third period goal Friday night against the Kings. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
With two-thirds of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season in the books, the three-time reigning champion Portage Terriers sit one point out of second place and are in good position to have home-ice-advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
The Terriers embarked on their post-deadline portion of the regular season Friday night and came away with a 5-1 victory over the Dauphin Kings on home ice at Stride Place. The win is the Dogs' fifth in their last six games, with a 6-5 loss to Virden as the only blemish in 2018.
"We're just trying to get some consistency. I think we're playing well at times but I think we don't quite have that bite we need all the time," said Blake Spiller, head coach/GM of the Portage Terriers. "It's a long year and you can harp on them all you want but it just seems at times we don't quite have it."
Dauphin's Jaymes Knee struck just 72 seconds after puck drop, blasting a one-timer past Portage netminder Lasse Petersen off of an offensive zone faceoff, but the lead was short-lived. Rookie standout Joey Moffatt answered soon after for the Terriers, tipping home his first of two on the night just minutes later.
Ty Enns struck late in the period to increase his scoring streak to four straight and Duncan Pierce scored with just seven seconds left in the first to put the Terriers ahead two.
"We seem to be able to score but we just have to make sure we're a little bit better without the puck," Spiller adds.
Turner Ripplinger scored 33 seconds into the second stanza to put the Terriers up 4-1 before Moffatt rounded out the scoring, tipping home a Lane Taylor point shot in the latter-half of the third.
Lasse Petersen wasn't tested very often in the victory, turning away 11 of 12 King shots directed his way while Dauphin's Brennan Kitchen was far busier, making 33 saves in the losing effort.
Quiet deadline day reflects tight standings
The league's trade deadline has come and gone - a rather quiet one at that - and the group of players tasked with defending the Turnbull Cup for the third straight year is all but established.
The Terriers parted ways with veteran forward Turner Santin and rookie goaltender Brendan Benoit as part of a trio of deadline deals made by Blake Spiller and company.
The Terriers shipped Santin to the Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) for future considerations before acquiring Portage-local Tanner Garnham from the Swan Valley Stampeders, also for future considerations.
The team than sent Benoit to the Neepawa Natives for the MJHL list rights of former Central Plains Capital netminder Miles Minor.
"I was in lots of talks and was close on a few - four or five deals," Spiller said. "But in the end the team that was talking about dealing a player didn't deal him and you need to have a dance partner to get it done."
Reluctancy seemed to be theme of Deadline Day 2018, as the tight playoff race prevented anyone from making any major moves. Just eight points separate the second place Oil Caps from the sixth place Steelers.
"Even if you look across Canada, I didn't think there was a whole bunch that got done," adds Spiller. "A few teams got guys back from the Western (Hockey League) and those were pretty much the only significant deals done in the league."
The Terriers are back in action tonight on the road in Swan, puck drop set for 7:30 p.m.