Portage Central took back the canoe trophy Monday night with their 5-2 win against Portage Northern in the 15th Portage Rotary Classic at Wings Event Center. The win keeps the Mustangs unbeaten within league play and gives them the canoe for the 12th time in 15 tries.
The Huskies controlled the puck better than the Mustangs in the first period and outshot them 12-7, but neither team found the back of the net. Portage Central reversed the trend in the second period and scored the opening goal with 10:24 remaining. On the powerplay, junior Jaden Sorenson fit it in off Peter Todd’s glove for the lead. 32 seconds later, the Mustangs had a 2-0 advantage via a snipe from junior Justin Hayward.
PC grabbed a 3-0 lead early into the third period with senior Konnor McLeod scoring immediately after Canyon Morse won the faceoff. Portage Northern would finally get on the board soon after with a Mustang turnover leaving Blake Sorge wide open in front of the net for a shorthanded Husky goal with 11:50 remaining.
The score stayed at 3-1 until 1:27 was left. An unassisted powerplay goal by Morse looked like the final dagger for the Mustangs, but the Huskies kept their hopes narrowly alive with a Dylan Ruggles goal 17 seconds later. Portage Central held firm for the final minute and Morse added an empty net goal with four seconds to go to close the contest and claim the canoe.
Morse finished with a four point night on two goals and two assists. Junior goalie Bryan Gracey had 29 saves in the victory with Todd stopping 39 in defeat.
Portage Central improves to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in SWMHSHL play, tied for the top spot with the defending champion Blades of Southwest Michigan. The Mustangs host the Kalamazoo Eagles Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. in the “Hockey Fights Cancer” fundraiser game, which can be heard live via JoeInsider.com.
Portage Northern falls to 2-7 and 1-2 in league play. Next for them is the Jenison tournament on Friday and Saturday.