Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks dropped their second straight game to Portage, falling behind two games to zero in their first round best-of-seven series after losing 5–2 on Saturday night at the CRRC.
The building was as packed and as loud as it has ever been, and it made for one of a heck of an environment for both teams to play in. How could you expect anything less for the Nighthawks’ first home playoff game in franchise history?
Niverville matched Portage stride for stride in the first period, keeping the score locked at 0–0 after 20 minutes.
And then Ty Kennett got the Nighthawks on the board early in the second period on the power play.
Play opened up midway through the second period as Portage was able to capitalize on some defensive breakdowns from Niverville. The Terriers scored twice in under a minute before Carter Spirig was able to get one back to tie the game at 2–2.
A late penalty in the second period would burn the Nighthawks as Portage was able to score on the ensuing power play to take a 3–2 lead heading into the third period.
The Nighthawks had some chances in the third period, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. Portage scored twice in the later stages of the period to put the game out of reach.
Chris Fines stopped 24 shots in goal for the Nighthawks.
“Little mistakes can really hurt you against a team like Portage. The game got away from us a bit, but we have to find a way to rally and get back to work,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “We were up in the shot total the whole game and were carrying the play for a good part of it. We know there are no moral victories in the playoffs, and we know that we’re in a hole now, down 2–0 in the series, but we’ve been down before, and we know we just need to go out and win one game in Portage on Tuesday.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the game had to be the incredible atmosphere shown by Niverville at the CRRC.
“It was awesome seeing everyone waving their towels and the community spirit,” said Cech. “It was an amazing atmosphere. I just wish we could have given them a little bit more to cheer for, but we will be back here for game four, and we know it will be electric then as well.”
The Nighthawks are back in action for game three in Portage on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m.). Niverville will then return home for Thursday night’s game four, also at 7:30 p.m.
“We just have to look at the next game. It’s that simple. Win one game, and that’s our process these playoffs. And we’ll see where it takes us.”