For nearly two periods, it looked like Santa was going to bring the Portage College Voyageurs an early Christmas present – their first win of the season. The home squad was playing an inspired game against the Augustana Vikings and giving the visitors all they could handle.
Then Santa arrived and dropped a lump of coal in Portage's stocking. With less than a minute left in the second and leading 3-2, the Voyageurs iced the puck and a few seconds later, the puck was in the back of their net.
"That really hurt," said Voyageur Head Coach Nate Bedford. "Going into the dressing room at 3-3 as opposed to 3-2 makes a big difference. The guys had the attitude of 'here we go again' instead of having some confidence heading into the third."
Unfortunately for the Voyageurs, it snowballed from there. A double minor for high sticking cost the team dearly as the Vikings scored twice on the subsequent powerplay. Augustana added an empty netter with a little over a minute left to seal the deal.
"Our penalty killing definitely needs to improve," said Bedford. "Augustana is a skilled offensive team. If you give them too many opportunities in your zone, they're going to score."
Vikings' player of the game Tavis Roch delivered several thunderous bodychecks and added an assist while former Voyageur Ryan Groom notched three assists against his old team. For the Voyageurs, Shane Sherban scored twice and was named his squad's player of the game.
Heading into the Christmas break, Bedford is hoping his players will think about playing smarter hockey when they return to action in January.
"We worked our tail off tonight," he said. "We just need to make better plays and not lose our cool. If we do that, we have a fighting chance of getting back into the playoff race."