Portage la Prairie, Man.
JAGO SCORES LATE, TERRIERS OPEN RBC CUP WITH WIN
JASON LA ROSE
PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – Tanner Jago’s goal with 7:50 to go broke open a tie game and led the Portage Terriers to a 3-2 win over the Penticton Vees in the opening game Saturday afternoon at the 2015 RBC Cup.
Jago took a pass from Brad Bowles, faked a slap shot and stepped around a sliding Penticton defenceman before rifling a wrist shot under the arm of Vees goaltender Hunter Miska.
The Terriers are the first host team to win the tournament’s first game since the Prince George Spruce Kings in 2007; hosts had lost three straight openers prior to Saturday.
Shawn Bowles and Brett Orr had the other goals for Portage, which got a stand-out, 31-save performance from Zac Robidoux, who made just his fourth start of the postseason. Robidoux was the goaltender of record when the Terriers beat the Vees on April 28 in the preliminary round at the Western Canada Cup.
Patrick Newell replied twice for Penticton, which also lost its opener at its last trip to Canada’s National Junior A Championship, in 2012, and proceeded to win its second national title.
The Vees carried the play in the early minutes, outshooting Portage 6-1 in the first five minutes, and took a 1-0 lead when a wraparound attempt by Tyson Jost ended up on the stick of Newell, who had a wide open net to open the scoring.
Bowles pulled the Terriers even very late in the opening frame, finishing off some pretty puck movement on a Portage power play by hammering a one-timer past Miska with just 0.3 seconds left in the period.
After 31 combined shots in the first period the offences slowed down just a little in the second, with each team directing nine shots at the other’s net minder.
The lone goal came off the stick of Orr, who blindly threw the puck on net from the point, only to see it make its way through traffic and through Miska to give the Terriers their first lead at 2-1 at 10:56.
But the advantage would be short-lived once the puck dropped to start the third; Newell cut into the slot from the left of Robidoux and went across his body with a wrist shot, beating the Portage goaltender over the glove and tying the game at 2-2.
The Vees had their chances throughout the game, including two posts and a crossbar, but three Penticton penalties in the last six minutes killed any serious chance of a comeback.
Portage will look for back-to-back wins in front of what should be another raucous crowd at PCU Centre when they take on the Carleton Place Canadians on Sunday night (7 p.m. CT), while the Vees are back on the ice Sunday afternoon against the debuting Melfort Mustangs (2 p.m. CT).