Saints snag series lead in Portage
Madison Ballantyne scored the game-winning goal against the River East Kodiaks in Game 1 of their best-of-three playoff series Monday in Portage la Prairie. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)
It’s been a while since the girls enjoyed a win in a series opener.
A pair of power play goals led the Portage Collegiate Institute Saints to a 2-1 victory over River East to open the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League CTV Division playoffs and the Saints now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
"It wasn’t our most clean game ever,” says head coach, Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie. “We were chasing too much. We asked the girls where the team that took St. Mary’s to a shootout was in between the second and third periods and we played desperately to start the third. We’re going to need to bring a better effort from here on out.”
The Saints fell behind in the second period when the Kodiaks scored six minutes into the frame and things were looking much like the regular season as River East won both meetings earlier this year. PCI managed to tie things up late in the period when Paige Shwaluk netted her first of the postseason. Maddie Shwaluk and Rhiannon Ice picked up assists on the power play marker.
The girls looked fired up to start the final period and it paid off with the eventual game-winner. Madison Ballantyne played heroine as she found the back of the net after Kiera Shwaluk threw it to the front of the net from the point. River East pushed back to try and tie things up but the stellar play of Saints goaltender Morgan Klassen kept the home team ahead. The girls held off the late Kodiak attack with the extra attacker and celebrated their first Game 1 win at home in more than three years.
“They had a bit of a psychological advantage going in because we couldn’t get by them in the regular season,” says Clark-Gillespie. “We can last with and have beaten some of the top teams in the league. If the girls can find a way to channel the way they played against the Flames last week they're very tough to handle.”
The girls can wrap things up in Game 2 Wednesday in Winnipeg when the Saints visit the Kodiaks at Gateway Arena.