If only the start had been as good as the finish…
The Portage College Voyageurs were left to wonder what might have been Saturday night after they lost their home opener 4-3 to the visiting Concordia Thunder. Thumped 11-2 the previous night in Edmonton, the Voyageurs rebounded nicely, playing an up-tempo, hard-hitting and entertaining game in front of their enthusiastic home crowd. If only the first period had been better….
"We were really timid at the beginning of the game," said Portage Head Coach Nate Bedford. "It's almost as if we were expecting the worst."
Despite the tough start, the game was scoreless after the first, thanks to Voyageur goalie Brad Dobson and some effective penalty killing. From there, the Voyageurs picked up their play, twice tying the game after the Thunder took the lead.
"We got better as the game went on," said Bedford. "If we'd started the way we finished, it would've been a better result."
Karstin McDonald tied the game at two early in the third and it looked like the two teams might be headed for overtime. The Thunder picked it up a notch from there, however, and struck for a pair of goals within minutes of each other to seal the win. Brayden Dale found the back to the net with less than minute remaining to make things interesting but the Voyageurs were unable to find the equalizer.
Bedford was impressed by how hard the opposition worked, particularly after the Voyageurs tied the game.
"That's the hardest I've ever seen them work in the seven years that I've been in the league," he said.
For the Thunder, Matt Benko led the way with two goals and was chosen as player of the game while Tyler Benko chipped in a goal and two assists. For the Voyageurs, Mark Ziobro was a shot-blocking machine, buzzing around the ice all night, and was chosen player of the game for his squad.
Despite the loss, Bedford found plenty to like in his squad's performance.
"It was a disappointing result but it was an encouraging game," he said. "It's something we can build on."