It really wasn't looking like the Eastman Selects would be celebrating any amount of Christmas cheer Sunday at MTS Iceplex.
The Selects, who watched a 3-0 first period lead disappear the night before at the Sun-Gro Centre in Beausejour as the Interlake Lightning rallied for a 4-3 victory, stormed back from a 2-0 third period deficit and defeated the defending Manitoba "AAA" Midget Hockey League champion Winnipeg Wild 3-2.
Will Cruise won it for the Selects as he beat Wild netminder Niklas Anderson in the fifth round of the shootout.
"We were hoping for a Christmas present from the boys and they definitely gave us a great Christmas present," said a very jubilant Eastman head coach Dennis Senebald. "We had some tough luck on Saturday. We were up 3-0 very fast and we kind of sat back. We got a little bit ahead of ourself I think in that game and before we knew it, it was 3-3. I give it to Interlake, they did not quit. Every player on their roster worked. They played really well. They deserved the win."
Cruise and Burke Heide scored in regulation for the Selects who received a 35-save performance from Danton Belluk.
"We've been trying to improve, and I think lately a lot of the things we've been working on in practice, the boys have done well in games," said Senebald. "We're getting our goals against back to where we want it - nice and low. The boys are definitely working hard at practice and we like to see that. We think they're improving on the ice."
Eastman has 12 wins, 13 losses and two overtime losses this season and are two points up on the ninth place Kenora Thistles.
The Selects, who will host the 2017 Telus Cup West Regional Championship in Steinbach from March 30th - April 2nd, will play their first game of 2017 on January 4th in Kenora and then start a four-game homestand.
"If we can get some wins and build off this momentum of a great comeback and get rolling, we think the boys can do a lot of damage in the playoffs - if we can get into the playoffs and then go from there. When the boys skate, we are a very good team."