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Draw Blues in first round of MJHL postseason

Portage beats up on Wayway

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Portage's Tanner Garnham drops the mitts with Morgan Poirier in the third period of Saturday's 5-2 victory over Waywayseecappo. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Portage's Tanner Garnham drops the mitts with Morgan Poirier in the third period of Saturday's 5-2 victory over Waywayseecappo. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

It's another regular season in the books.

The Terriers cruised past the visiting Waywayseecappo Wolverines 5-2 tonight at Stride Place to cap off the 2017/18 Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season and now set their sights on the Winnipeg Blues, Portage's first round opponent in the playoffs.

"It's going to be a tough test. They're a good club and got better as the year went on," says assistant coach Paul Harland, following the Terriers' 38th victory of the year. "They got some guys back from injury and then they added back a couple guys from the Western (Hockey) League (WHL) at the deadline so their team is good and could have finished higher than sixth if they had that full team there the whole year."

The Dogs were the better of the two clubs throughout the six meetings this year, compiling a 4-1-1 record, however the Blues did down the Terriers 6-4 on Valentines Day in the only post-Christmas meeting between the two teams.

"We'll just have to have a good week of practice here and make sure we're ready to go Friday," adds Harland, alluding to the all-but-finalized first round scheduled start.

Ty Barnstable, Troy Williams, Mackenzie Dwyer, Jared Roy and James McIsaac all found the back of the net in the Terriers victory over the Wolverines, and could have had many more if it weren't for the strong play of Waywayseecappo netminder Isaac Labelle. The 20-year-old turned aside 46 Terrier shots in the losing effort.

"I thought we played pretty good hear tonight, shots on goal are indicative of the game," said Harland. "We finally got some pucks to go in in the second period and we had lots of good looks in the third, unfortunately we weren't real discipline at times here tonight which we'll have to work on for sure moving into playoffs."

The Terriers and Blues open their best-of-seven quarter final series Friday at Stride Place. Both of Portage's goaltenders saw their fair share of pucks this season and split playing time nearly down the middle. Brock Aiken had the crease at the start of the year, where he more than answered the bell, before falling victim to the injury bug. 

Lasse Petersen joined the Terriers from the WHL just prior to Aiken's trip to the infirmary, and took the reigns in his absence. The two netminders split duty from there, where both exhibited flashes of brilliance while also turning in moments of mediocracy.

Although there hasn't been a clear No. 1 goalie since Petersen joined the club, if statistics are any indication, the crease will be his until he gives the coaching staff a reason to think otherwise. The 20-year-old native of Denmark posted an 18-6-0-2 record during the season to go along with a 2.29 GAA and .918 save percentage and recently turned in a miraculous performance despite suffering a 2-0 loss to the league leading Pistons. In comparison, Aiken posted a 13-7-0-0 record with a 3.13 GAA and .886 save percentage, however the Thunder Bay, Ont., product has won his last three starts.

"Obviously goaltending is a big factor in the playoffs. Great goaltending can usually go a long way so we are looking for that from both of these guys and hopefully they'll carry us through," adds Harland.

The Terriers enter the postseason with some momentum on their side, as the team has gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games played.

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