Things continued to go well for the Niverville Nighthawks, picking up back-to-back wins against the Selkirk Steelers, giving Niverville four straight wins.
Redemption Friday Night
The Nighthawks edged out a win against the Steelers Friday night.
Niverville hoped to rebound after losing to Selkirk in the last outing by a score of 5-2.
Selkirk came out strong in the first period and played some good physical hockey giving Niverville a tough task of keeping pace. After exchanging a few power plays the period ended tied at zero, but you could tell the second frame was going to be exciting considering the pace of play. Shots after 20 minutes of play were 7-5 in favor of Niverville.
Joel Purdom opened the scoring 2:49 into the second frame after he elevated a shot over the shoulder of Niverville goaltender Chris Fines. The Steelers capitalized on some good work in the corner by #18 Peyton Hinkel-Lysak and #25 Ethan Alsip. The Nighthawks fought back and responded on a goal from Desmond Johnson off the rush, tying the game at 1 goal a piece. The Steelers fought back and converted on a 2 on 1 with Cameron Hibbert burying a feed from Brandon Ambrozik, getting Selkirk back on top 2-1. 4 minutes later, the Nighthawks had a 2 on 1 of their own, and Brendan Bottom made good on a pass from Braden Panzer, tying the game at 2 heading into the third. Both teams played a physical 2nd period and looked to make things interesting in the final frame.
The Nighthawks found themselves in some penalty trouble in the 3rd but after some fantastic penalty killing during a 5 on 3 for Selkirk, Niverville gained some momentum in front of an engaged home crowd. Evan Bortis scored on the rush, giving the Nighthawks their first lead of the game making it 3-2. Only 39 seconds later, Brendan Kerr tipped in a point shot from Brett Tatayrn, and just like that the Nighthawks had a 2-goal cushion over the Steelers. Selkirk managed to keep the pressure on and closed the gap to 4-3 late in the period but it wasn’t enough this time as Niverville held on for the win.
Chris Fines played really well down the stretch, making a myriad of great saves, finishing with 36 stops on 39 attempts. For the Steelers, Hunter Tarves made some key saves as well but came up short in the contest. He finished with 18 saves on 22 shots.
Overall, the Steelers played tough, but the turning point of the game came midway through the 3rd period as Selkirk couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. The Nighthawks' special teams played an integral role going 1 for 5 on the man advantage and kept the Steelers at bay 0-5 on the PP.
Saturdays Are For Goals
On Saturday night, the Nighthawks hoped to play a more consistent style of game throughout the entire 60 minutes. Coach Kelvin Cech thought there were areas to improve upon after Friday’s contest.
This time around, the Nighthawks came out firing on all cylinders, dominating in the faceoff circle and controlling the play in the offensive zone. Niverville forward, Josh Paulhus opened the scoring at 3:54 on the powerplay, netting his 11th goal on the year. Chances were traded on both sides but for the most part, the Nighthawks controlled the period and played well in front of Chris Fines as he made a couple of good saves while his team was short-handed. Brendan Bottom gave Niverville a 2-0 lead late in the period after he made good on a pass from Desmond Johnson and beat Selkirk goalie Joshua Kirton. The first period was physical and by all accounts looked like things could get chippy heading into the 2nd.
In the middle frame, special teams were the story as the two clubs combined for 3 pp goals. Lucas Brennon cut the lead to 2-1 on a nice one-timer, as the Steelers took advantage of a Braden Panzer penalty for cross-checking. Niverville stuck with it and returned the favor on the man advantage as Bryce Warkentine scored his first goal of the game with assists going to Evan Bortis and Brett Tataryn. The Steelers managed to cut the lead in half on Lucas Brennon’s second goal of the period, making it 3-2 Niverville. Again it was the potent power play of the Nighthawks that extended the lead with Luke Shaeffer banging one in with 6 minutes to play in the 2nd. After 40 minutes of play, the score was 4-2 in favor of Niverville.
The third period proved to be eventful with the teams combining for 52 minutes in penalties. Scoring-wise, Bryce Warkentine buried his second of the night on an unassisted effort as the Steelers gave up the puck in their own zone. The Niverville powerplay stayed hot as Evan Bortis blasted a shot into the net with Brett Tataryn and Desmond Johnson collecting assists. The goal came just before the midway point of the 3rd period. At times, the Steelers were frustrated by the controlled play of the Nighthawks and there seemed to be a scrum after every whistle. The refs did a good job however but things didn’t seem to go over well both on the Selkirk bench and with the home crowd. The Steelers did manage to fire 15 shots at Chris Fines throughout the 3rd period but he came up big a few times, only allowing a goal by Ethan Brown late in the game, near the 18-minute mark. Bryce Warkentine had himself a night as he completed his hat trick bid with only 20 seconds left on the clock, giving the Nighthawks a 7-3 victory.
After it was all said and done, Niverville finished with 44 shots on net, while the Steelers had 30 attempts. This was the Nighthawk's 4th win in a row and their 12th on the year, putting them in 4th place and 8 points ahead of the 5th placed Winnipeg Blues. Selkirk currently sits in 6th place in the MGEU East Division with 12 points.
Next up for the Nighthawks is a game in Portage Friday night against the 3rd placed Terriers. A good opportunity to see if they can continue to be smart in their own and make good first passes. Important to do so against some good competition and remain in playoff contention as we near the halfway point in the season.