The Niverville Nighthawks and Neepawa Titans split their weekend home and home series in dramatic fashion.
Friday night the Nighthawks were in Neepawa to take on a hungry Titan squad sitting 5 points out of a playoff spot after winning 3 of their last 5 contests.
Ty Kennet scored the only goal in the first 20 minutes as both teams tried to keep pace with one another in what was a physical opening frame. Niverville headed into the 2nd with a 1-0 lead.
The second period was much the same with both teams trading chances until Titan forward Briley Wood capitalized on the PP after a Ben Whitford interference call. The goal came at the 12:23 mark and was Wood’s 10th goal of the year. Just over a minute later Carter Spirig buried his 11th goal with assists going to Isaac Rentmeester and Carson Reed. The middle frame came to a close with the Nighthawks leading 2-1.
Early on in the 3rd period, the Nighthawks found themselves in some penalty trouble with Bryce Warkentine taking a 5-minute major for boarding, along with a 10-minute game misconduct. The ensuing power play gave the Titans the advantage and they made the most of it. Hayden Stocks scored his 11th goal, while Dean Noonan found the back of the net for the first time this year and vaulted Neepawa into the lead at 3-2.
The Nighthawks battled back and with 7:15 left in regulation, Ben Whitford came through and tied things up at 3. That’s where the score stayed for the remainder of the period so it was off to overtime.
In the extra frame, Niverville created the only real scoring chances. After a turnover by the Titans in the offensive zone, Evan Bortis managed to bring the puck up ice and found Josh Paulhus, who made no mistake on the OT winner.
Dane Couture gets the win in his first start with the Nighthawks, making 24 saves in the process. Gavin Renwick stopped 24 of 28 for the Titans.
Both teams were back at it Saturday night, this time in Niverville.
The Titans kept true to their 2nd effort brand of hockey and kept things interesting throughout the contest.
Neepawa scored 3 special teams goals in the first period alone. Cameron Trimble and Josh Romanyk capitalized on the man advantage for the Titans while Briley Wood scored short-handed on an unassisted effort.
Niverville had success on the power play as well as Brenden Bottem and Josh Paulhus found the back of the net during the 1st. Paulhus extended his point-scoring streak to 13 games on the goal. Brett Tataryn scored late in the period, tying the game at 3 heading into the 2nd.
Carter McLeod banged in a rebound early into the middle frame and gave the Titans a 4-3 lead. It ended up being the 3rd PP goal for Neepawa on the evening, giving them the lead until Hayden Wheddon took a Braden Panzer pass and put the puck in, tying the game up at 4 after 2 periods of play.
The 3rd frame saw the Titans come out hard and control play, using their speed to keep the Nighthawks at bay. Niverville pressed and after some good forechecking by Issac Rentemeester, things paid off as he scored his 7th of the season on a turnover at the side of the net.
It looked like things had turned for Niverville while they created a number of good scoring chances. Mason Lobreau played really well for the Titans in net and made some key saves, keeping his team in the mix. Chris Fines did the same on his end, making several highlight reel stops.
Nearing the end of regulation, Neepawa hemmed the Nighthawks in and had numerous close calls until Cody Gudnason finally found a way to get a puck past the Niverville goaltender. Regulation came to a close in a 5-5 tie.
The Titans took a few penalties in the extra frame but Lobreau held the fort and was able to help his team make it to a shootout. It took 12 shooters before Dean Noonan broke the deadlock with a slap shot, and gave the Titans a 6-5 shootout victory.
The win gets Neepawa within 2 points of a playoff spot in the MGEU Western Division. Niverville sits in 4th place in the East, 9 points ahead of the Winnipeg Blues in 5th.
The Nighthawk's next match-up is in Winkler on Friday night against the Flyers.