Because we're running a little behind, I'm just going to run through the scorers quickly. Wednesday's lone game featured the Carleton Place Canadians against the Melfort Mustangs, so let's get rolling on this.
The first period saw Adam Fauchoux open the scoring for Melfort with his second goal of the tournament off a feed from Regan Wilton for the 1-0 lead at 12:17. It would last through 18 minutes when the Canadians would strike back as Andrew Dodson scored his first goal of the tournament at 18:29 while shorthanded. However, Melfort would take the lead into the intermission when Travis Mayan responded 1:12 later just 19 seconds before the horn.
The Canadians would notch the only goal of the second period as Adam Lloyd found some room past Richard Palmer to even the score at 2-2 with his marker at 6:13.
The third period saw Carleton Place take their first lead of the game at 13:32 when Ryker Killins sniped his first goal of the tournament for the 3-2 lead. However, Melfort would square things up once more when Adam Fauchoux scored his second of the game at the 15:57 mark, and this game would need extra time to sort things out.
It wouldn't take long for this game to find a winner as Cole Hyrsky of the Melfort Mustangs would fire one past Guillaume Therien for the 4-3 overtime victory! Goaltender Richard Palmer made 24 of 27 saves in the victory while Therien would stop 46 of 50 shots sent his way.
This game, unfortunately, meant little to the Soo Thunderbirds as they can't make the playoffs, so they were looking to play spoilers against the Penticton Vees. The Vees needed to win for a chance to win the pool or, at worst, finish second in the pool based on later results.
The two teams felt one another out in the opening frame, but Penticton would grab a lead at the 7:28 mark when Steen Cooper beat Mario Culina. The Vees would carry the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Penticton would double the lead just 1:29 into the second period when Patrick Newell added another tally for the 2-0 lead. The bleeding wouldn't stop for the Thunderbirds, though, as Newell scored his second of the game on the power-play at 6:23 for the 3-0 lead. Sensing that his team may need a boost and to give his backup netminder a little more ice time, head coach Jordan Smith opted to change the goalies as Mario Culina, who had a fantastic tournament despite the losses, gave way to backup Brian Kment for the remaining 29:11 of the game. And it seemd to work as the Thunderbirds scored just a couple of minutes later when Brett Jeffries snapped Hunter Miska's shutout to make it a 3-1 game!
Jeffries would strike again just 1:28 into the third period to make it a 3-2 game as he beats Miska again to make things interesting. However, Penticton would respond 2:37 later on the power-play as Tyson Jost fired one past Kment for the 4-2 lead. With 3:15 remaining, Dakota Conroy closed the book on this game with his goal as Patrick Newell finished the night with two goals and two assists! Hunter Miska made 20 saves on 22 shots. Mario Culina finished the game with 20 saves on 23 shots through 30:49 while Brian Kment stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced in his 29:11 of work.
Lots of scenarios could play out depending on how this game finished. If Portage wins outright, though, they would be the top team in the tournament standings based on the tie-breaker with Penticton, so that was the goal of the Terriers on this night. And if Melfort lost in regulation, these two teams would meet up on Saturday once more with a berth to the finals on the line. Needless to say, this game had serious ramifications on the standings based on the outcome.
The host team decided to get the fans into the game midway through the period as Brad Bowles snapped a puck past Richard Palmer at 12:01, and the Terriers grabbed a 1-0 lead. It looked like these two teams would be content with the back-and-forth action through to the horn, but Portage tripled their lead in 47 seconds. First, Landon Peel scored at 18:43 and then Shawn Bowles notched a goal at 19:30 for the 3-0 first-period lead.
Melfort came out firing on all cylinders in the second period as they threw a ton of shots at Justin LaForest, but nothing was getting through early. They would finally crack the goose egg at the 16:20 mark when Travis Mayan scored on the power-play while Portage's Zack Waldvogel watched from the penalty box after a high-sticking call. The 3-1 score would hold true through 40 minutes.
Melfort would make things interesting when Cole Hyrsky scored at 7:11 of the third period to make it a 3-2 game. There were chances at both ends of the ice in the final frame, but when the final horn sounded the Portage Terriers held on by that 3-2 score to win the game. LaForest made 26 saves on 28 shots for the victory while Palmer stopped 27 of 30 shots in the loss, and these two teams will see one another in the playoff round in two days.
Playoff MatchupsWith the preliminary round complete, the standings have the Portage Terriers sitting atop the standings at 3-1 despite being tied with Penticton. With Portage having beat the Vees in the prelims, they take top spot while Penticton moves to second-place. The Carleton Place Canadians finish in third-place at 2-1-0-1 (W-L-OTW-OTL) and Melfort finished fourth with a 1-2-1-0 record. The Soo Thunderbirds went 0-4 in their games, and will begin to make their way back to Sault Ste. Marie after this week's action.
The early game in Portage on Saturday will see the Penticton Vees as the home team against the Carleton Place Canadians. Penticton handed the Canadians their regulation loss on Tuesday with a 4-3 final, and will be looking to replicate that effort in this game. The late game will see Portage and Melfort rekindle their affair from Thursday night after Portage downed Melfort 3-2. I'll try to post a full report on Saturday after the semifinals are played, and make sure you tune into TSN for the RBC Cup Final on Sunday!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!