Portage la Prairie, Man.
TERRIERS GET POINTS FROM 12, HAMMER THUNDERBIRDS AT RBC CUP
JASON LA ROSE
PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – Brad Bowles scored a hat trick and added an assist to lead a balanced offence, helping the Portage Terriers to a 7-2 win over the Soo Thunderbirds on Tuesday night at the 2015 RBC Cup.
The win clinches a semifinal spot for the host Terriers and ends the RBC Cup dreams of the Thunderbirds, who dropped to 0-3 and have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Portage is the 12th consecutive host team to advance to the semifinals; the last time a host didn’t get out of the preliminary round was the Charlottetown Abbies in 2003.
Grant Valiquette, Tanner Jago, Carson Perreaux and Jordyn Boyd had the other goals for the Terriers, who bounced back from just their second shutout loss of the season, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Carleton Place Canadians on Sunday night.
Bowles made sure that wouldn’t happen again early on Tuesday, redirecting a feed from twin broth Shawn between the legs of Soo goaltender Mario Culina just 7:47 into the first period.
Valiquette doubled the lead at 15:16, turning a Thunderbirds defenceman inside out before roofing a wrist shot over Culina’s glove, helping Portage take a 2-0 lead to the first intermission.
The Terriers’ power play struck only 47 seconds into the second period when Jago hammered home a one-timer from the point on a two-man advantage, but his captain counterpart, Anthony Miller, banked in a shot from behind the net less than two minutes later to get Soo on the board.
Bowles got a lucky bounce of his own at 6:25 when his centering feed to Zack Waldvogel hit a Thunderbirds stick and beat Culina, and Carson Perreaux stormed the Soo net to jam in the 5-1 goal at 18:11.
Eric Hillock knocked a rebound past Portage goaltender Zac Robidoux just 15 seconds after Perreaux’s goal to cut the Terriers’ lead to 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Boyd restored the four-goal advantage on a Portage power play after just 64 seconds of the third period, beating Culina on a one-timer from the face-off dot, and Bowles capped his hat trick by going upstairs on a shorthanded breakaway.
That would be all for Culina, who was replaced by Brian Kment for the last eight minutes.
Portage doubled up Soo in shots on goal, finishing with a 34-17 advantage.
The Terriers will finish their preliminary round schedule on Thursday night when they take on the Melfort Mustangs (7 p.m. CT), while the Thunderbirds will play for pride in their final game, facing the Penticton Vees in the Thursday matinee (2 p.m. CT).