It was another tightly contested game between long-standing rivals but a goal with under two minutes to go in regulation boosted Portage over the Steinbach Pistons 3-2 on Friday night.
Earlier in the day, Head Coach Paul Dyck was informed that it was to be his 600th game behind the bench. "I was told earlier this morning and I'm sure those stats are courtesy of my brother," the 2X championship bench boss said with a smile. "It means I've been around for a while. Pretty much 10 years and it's been special. It's been a great run. I've enjoyed the time and it's flown by. In many ways, I feel like a young coach but when you look at the number, it means maybe I've become long in the tooth."
In the opening period, both teams kind of went through the motions. For Steinbach, it was the line of Davin Griffin, Hunter Degelman and Brett Kaiser that was the most noticeable with a hard forecheck, good puck control, and strung together a couple of chances.
Defensively, neither side was giving up much. Defenders were moving pucks quickly out of the zone but both offenses struggled to get anything working inside their opponent's zone.
The best chance of the period came from the Terriers as a cross-crease pass hit the intended target but Dominik Wasik read the play perfectly, made a strong push across to the post, and made a pad save.
Shots in the period were 7-4 Steinbach and the period came to a close 0-0.
Things started to pick up in the second and both teams started to find their way.
Just past the midway point of the frame, Warren Clark took a pass at the point, made a quick move around the Portage checker, walked in, and scored his 5th of the season to make it 1-0 Steinbach. Davis Fry and Dawson Milliken were given the assists on the opening goal.
Seconds after scoring the goal, Steinbach took a penalty and gave the Terrier the chance to equalize, which they didn't waste, knotting up the game 1-1.
Late in the second, Kirk Mullen took a beautiful cross-crease pass from Griffin to tap home his 5th of the season restoring Steinbach's lead. Travis Hensrud picked up the other assist which extended his point streak to 12 games.
Steinbach took a 2-1 lead into the third.
Once again, it was a Terrier power play that got them back to even as they potted their second-man advantage marker to tie the game 2-2.
Both teams had their chances throughout the third period but neither could break the deadlock.
That was until with under two go to as the Terriers managed to break free from coverage and score to give them the lead 3-2.
Steinbach pulled their goalie in search of a goal but their best chance rang off the crossbar and stayed out.
The horn sounded and for the second meeting in a row, the Terriers came out on top, this time by a 3-2 margin.
Wasik was saddled with the loss, making 19 saves on the night.
The penalty kill took a hit surrendering 2 goals on 5 chances to work. The power play also struggled going 0-4.
Steinbach will host the Winnipeg Freeze Sunday afternoon. The puck drop is set for 2:30 pm.