Written by: Blake Friars
PORTAGE LA PRIAIRE,MB- Conor Geekie scored his hattrick goal nine minutes into the third period, as the Oil Capitals skated past the Portage Terriers 5-4 to close out the Pre-Season.
In the first period, the Oil Caps found themselves shorthanded early. Dakota MacIntosh got called for hooking, but it was the road team that drew first blood. Hunter Cloutier scored a shorthanded goal just 90 seconds into the hockey game, to make it 1-0 Virden. Then moments later, the Oil Caps showcased their playmaking with Dylan Halliday, Branden Huminuk, and Conor Geekie connecting on a pretty tic-tac-toe goal. It was Geekie’s second of the Preseason. Shortly after the Terriers got on the board forward, Rhys Raeside beat Oil Caps goaltender Kyle Kozma off the crossbar and into the net. The Oil Caps were given a late powerplay to restore that two-goal lead, and they did just that! Brett Paddock capitalized on a loose puck and slipped it passed the outstretched Terriers goalie to make it 3-1! The Shots after 20 were six apiece.
In the middle frame, it was the Terriers that pushed hard. Cutting the lead in half midway through the second period after a shot from the top of the circle beat Kozma five-hole. Defenceman Trevor Hunt had an excellent chance to grab the two-goal lead back but rang it off the post. Shortly after, the Oil Caps quickly responded. It was Geekie again directing a puck into the net with his shin pad to make it 4-2 Oil Caps. That didn’t last long at all. First, it was Tyler Van Deynze that beat Kozma under the blocker to pull the Terriers within one. Then 40 seconds later, it was defenceman Naaman Hofer that let a puck go through traffic, and the puck found it’s way past Kozma to make it 4-4. Heading into the final frame, the shots were 16-14 in favour of Virden.
In the third period, it remained scoreless until the nine-minute mark of the period. It was Conor Geekie again, ripping his hattrick goal top shelf over the glove side. Moments later, Geekie had a chance for a fourth goal of the night, but he hit iron. There was some rough stuff as the period moved along, but no penalties came from it. The Terriers pushed for the tying goal late, but Kozma stood tall when the team needed him most. The Oil Caps hung on for the 5-4 victory. The Oil Caps outshot the Terriers 24-18.
We knew going into tonight’s game we would see a much different Portage team than last week,” said Assistant Coach Brett Braybrook. “I felt we started strong but took parts of the first and second period off. It is still early, and we will continue to get better each day. We need to tidy up our defensive game and work on playing a full 60 minutes. In saying that, I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game. It was nice ending the preseason on a win going into next week’s home opener. We are going to be a speedy and exciting team to watch this year,” added Braybrook.
With the win, the Oil Caps finish the Preseason a perfect 3-0 and begin the Regular Season at home against these same Terriers October 9th! Puck drop is set for 7:30