The Battlefords North Stars never had a lead until the final minute, but they still took game one of ANAVET Cup.
Ryan Gil broke a 2-2 deadlock with 51 seconds left in regulation as the SJHL champions defeated the MJHL champion Portage Terrriers 3-2 on Friday in Portage la Prairie.
Dylan Esau and Macgregor Sinclair also scored in the game one win for the North Stars, while Austin Becker and Cody Spagrud each recorded a pair of assists.
The Terriers skated out to an early two-goal lead in the first period. The North Stars cut the lead in half in the middle frame, and then scored twice in the final stanza to strike first in the best-of-seven series.
The North Stars failed to register double digits in shots in any of the three periods as they were outshot 31-18. The Terriers held the North Stars to just four shots on goal in the opening period, while the Battlefords mustered only five shots in the middle frame.
Jared Roy scored both goals for the Terriers in the series opener. Nathan Moore stopped 15 shots in goal for Portage.
This is the first ever meeting between the two teams at the regional final in the 43-year history of the ANAVET Cup. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday at Stride Place before the series shifts to North Battleford for the next three games of the series.
The winner will advance to the national RBC Cup which runs from May 11-19 in Brooks, Alberta. The Terriers won the RBC Cup in their last tournament appearance as hosts in 2015.