Comeback dogs Steelers

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:44 AM ET

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE -- The Selkirk Steelers looked like they were about to buck the trend.

The Portage Terriers would have none of it.

The Steelers leaped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, only to watch the Terriers rattle off four goals in a row over the next 42 minutes to earn a 4-3 win in Game 3 of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League final.

"It's absolutely huge," said Terriers defenceman Drew Ellement, who had two goals and an assist. "Game 3 is always the most important game of a series."

Carson Rowat potted the game-winner with 4:37 remaining in the third and with nine seconds to go in a Selkirk penalty.

The Terriers now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, in which the home team has won every game. The scene shifts to the Selkirk Recreation Complex tomorrow night for Game 4, with the puck set to drop at 7:30.

For a few minutes last night, it looked like the Steelers were well on their way to the series' first road win.

Josh Schappert opened the scoring on the power play midway through the first, and high-scoring Russ Payne pumped in two more over the next six minutes to give the visitors a 3-0 cushion.

That quieted most of the sellout crowd of 1,133 at the jam-packed Centennial Arena, the exception being the several dozen Steelers boosters who made the trip.

The floundering Terriers, however, found a life-jacket in the form of an Ellement power-play tally with seven seconds to go in the opening frame.

The hosts kept that momentum going in the second when Tyler Moore and Ellement scored goals 36 seconds apart to make it a 3-3 affair.

Steelers coach Keith Cassidy said that five-minute span was the difference, when a couple of his veteran players forgot the simple concept of picking up the high man on back-to-back shifts.

In this case, that man was Ellement.

"A guy like Drew Ellement, I mean, jeez," a frustrated Cassidy said afterwards. "I don't care if he jumps up in the play, as long as we got a guy like we had most of the night, a guy there covering him.

"But if he's not there, it's going to end up in your net. That's just the way it is."

Ellement leads the Terriers with a whopping 15 goals in 11 post-season games. He has scored at least once in all 11 of Portage's playoff matches. Not too shabby for a blue-liner.

"I pick my spots," the 20-year-old Winnipegger said with a grin. "I've got some speed. I'm generally going to jump up. It's what I'm here for, to be offensive."

The Steelers aren't going to wallow in the fact they blew a glorious chance to steal a road win that they'll have to get at some point.

"To almost get one here at their home, a game that but for five minutes should have been ours, you gotta take a positive out of that and know you can play here," Cassidy said.

Alan Armour made 38 stops for Sekirk, while Bryan Mountain turned aside 25 pucks for Portage.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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