The Terriers blanked the Stampeders 3-0 in the first game of the series thanks to a 34-save effort from goaltender Ethan Peterson, who picked up his eighth win of the postseason.
Swan Valley, making their first-ever finals appearance, can be forgiven if they had some nerves in Game 1, but they found their offensive punch in Game 2, putting six goals on the board in a 6-5 overtime win.
The win snapped the Terriers 15-game winning streak, and more importantly for Swan Valley, evened the series at one game apiece. The victory didn’t come easy though, as the Terriers battled back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits throughout the night, before eventually taking the lead and ultimately losing it in the back-and-forth affair.
After being blanked in Game 1, the Stampeders regained their scoring touch early in Game 2, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after the first period. The Terriers came back in the middle frame, making it 3-2 midway through the period before the Stampeders regained their two-goal lead with just over eight minutes to go in the second.
Portage, making their fourth finals appearance in the past five seasons, didn’t panic and by the midway point of the third period had fired home three unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead with just over ten minutes to go in the third period.
As they had done all season long, the Stampeders looked to their big guns to get them back in the game, and they did. Bradly Goethals, who was second in the MJHL in goals scored with 34 in the regular season (teammate Josh Tripp had 36), added the equalizer four minutes later, to send the series to an extra frame for the first time in the series.
Just over a minute into overtime, Terriers’ Owen Murray took a hooking penalty, and nine seconds later Goethals put home his second of the game, and ninth of the playoffs, to lift the Stampeders to a 6-5 win. Goethals finished the night with three points (2G, 1A), while Chase Brakel (2G, 2A) and Ty Barnstable (1G, 3A) each registered four-point nights for Portage.
After suffering their first loss in almost two months, the Terriers came out ready to go for Game 3, and dominated much of the first 40 minutes, outshooting the Stampeders 16-5 in the opening period, and 15-6 in the second. Merek Pipes made several big saves to keep the Stampeders in the game, but the Terriers managed to solve him twice in the middle frame on goals from Scott Mickowski and Jay Buchholz to go up 2-0 after forty minutes.
The Stampeders, never a team to stop working, fought back in the third and scored twice in a 3:14 span to tie the game up at two with goals form Alexander Uryga and Dane Hirst eight minutes in. The score stayed that way until Stampeders Lane Kirk took a double-minor for butt-ending midway through the period, and the Terriers made them pay as Mickowski fired home his second of the game, and eventual game-winner with just under five minutes to go to give Portage a 2-1 series lead.
The series now shifts back to Swan Valley for Game 4 on Saturday night. The home teams have won each game of the finals so far, and the Stampeders will be looking for that trend to continue. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM central.