It wasn't at all friendly and there were no baked goods or any nice 'Welcome to Portage' gifts.  It was a down right beating in the first period of the Anavet Cup. The Ice Wolves definitely looked like the team that just came of a Game 7 victory that people are still talking about.  The Wolves stumbled through the opening minutes before getting behind 2-0 to the Terriers.  

This wasn't a strong night for Adam Bartko, one he'll want to forget.  A soft goal to start things out really set the tone for the Ice Wolves and then another weird goal when it seemed like Bartko just lost where the puck went.  That said, he did make some fantastic saves before being yanked in the second period after a puck went in off of his glove.  That would be then end for Bartko early in the second.

Myles Hovdebo got into the game seeing his first action since the final and after a shaky start when he forgot to take his skate guards off, Hovdebo was solid in net for the Ice Wolves.  His energy seemed to spark La Ronge, and a powerplay goal by Marc-Andre Carre seemed to get things rolling.  The Wolves scored three unanswered to even the game at three.  The winner would show up only a couple minutes later as Tyler Moore walked unimpeded around the slot and a mess of bodies in front to roof the Terriers' fourth of the night.

The Terriers would add another to win it 5-3 over La Ronge and take first blood in the series.

Make no mistake, Portage came out pumping in the opening minutes.  They were physical and very quick.  The Wolves were not ready for it and it took a toll on them very quickly.  The main problem for La Ronge are the Terriers forwards cutting into the middle.  While Yorkton would start middle and bust wide, Portage cuts in.  The Wolves looked like they were over-committing to an outside drive and it was creating opportunities for the Terriers.  That said, more back-check pressure from the forwards would relieve a lot of those chances.

I felt both teams were pretty sloppy, though the Ice Wolves were down right dirty in the opening frame.  It was a giveaway bonanza, mainly unforced.  The second and third periods looked quite a bit better in that regard with less giveaways and if the puck was turned over, it was a forced error.  While the Terriers dominated the physical game early, I felt La Ronge made pretty good strides in that department through the remaining time.  The Ice Wolves aren't used to a tough and physical game and I think Game 1 served as a pretty good wake up call.

Three Stars - As selected by Bill Burfoot

1. Tyler Moore - PORT - 1 G, 1 A - Moore showed why he is a leader on the Terriers and why this is his third trip to the Anavet Cup.  He was very solid through the game causing no small measure of grief for the Ice Wolves in the La Ronge end.  After the game was tied at three, he did his best work factoring in on both Terriers goals.

2. Myles Hovdebo - LR - 21/23 or 19/22 Svs - It kind of depends on which website you look at right now as the shot totals are different.  The joys of bringing together two leagues.  Hovdebo rescued the Ice Wolves in the second period playing a very strong game to keep the Wolves in it.  It was his first action since the Regular Season finale, but he looked sharp as per the norm for the Wolves' back-up.

3. Kirk Croswell - PORT - 22/25 or 19/22 Svs - It wasn't quantity, but quality for Croswell.  He robbed Nathan Boyer when the Ice Wolves were pressing in the the second.  That would have been an early tying goal, and he stoned Logan Herauf on the doorstep a couple of times in the third as the Ice Wolves looked for the equalizer.  I imagine Croswell will want a better game from himself though, after allowing those three quick goals in the second period.  If the Wolves can pick up their pressure and raise the shot count, how will he fair?
Game 2 goes tonight at 7:30 local and 6:30 Saskatchewan time.  I'll have the Pre-Game show from the PCU Centre here in Portage at 6:15.  Once again, Bill Burfoot joins me on the broadcast, and who knows maybe I'll be able to say his name at the beginning of the broadcast.  0-for-1 so far, heh.

I'm expecting a much better Ice Wolves team tonight, as the veterans on the team weren't happy with that game, but were confident in their ability to bounce back.  The Ice Wolves only lost back to back games twice this season, and they don't expect to make it three times tonight.  The Terriers will be riding high after last night, so it's up to the Ice Wolves to quiet the crowd like they did in the second period.

{UPDATE} Justin Ducharme is done with his two game suspension from the SJHL Finals.  He should draw back into the lineup, which means either Phil Cliche or Rhyse Dieno will likely come out of that second line.  Robert Monfore is back with the team, but it remains to be seen if he will play tonight.  He's itching to get back on the ice, but may have to wait till the series goes back to La Ronge.

Enjoy the game!


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