The Niverville Nighthawks earned perhaps their biggest win of the season on Wednesday night at home when they knocked off the league-leading Steinbach Pistons by a 6–4 score. With the win, the Nighthawks improve to 9–9–1 on the year, which is good for fourth place in the MJHL’s East Division.
“Steinbach is such a great team and is in first place for a reason as they went to Game 7 of the league finals last year,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “To halt them for one night feels awesome, and the boys are fired up for this win.”
Steinbach opened the scoring midway through the first period, but Ty Kennett replied right away for the Nighthawks.
Steinbach got another goal a few minutes later, but once again the Nighthawks replied with Carson Reed scoring his third of the season.
The Pistons took their third lead of the game, scoring early in the second period, but after that it was all Nighthawks on the offence. Niverville scored three times in the second period with goals from Bryce Warkentine, Josh Paulhus, and Braden Panzer to lead 5–3.
Niverville played strong and shut down Steinbach’s offence in the third period. Both teams scored another goal, and the game ended 6–4 in Niverville’s favour.
“The first two times we played Steinbach, they outshot us badly,” said Cech. “We defended well, but we didn’t have the puck at all. We have had a lot of new faces on our team since then, though, so this game is definitely a measuring stick of where we’re at. We were also on a three-game losing streak coming into this, so to snap that against the top team in the league, we’re pretty happy tonight.”
Chris Fines was excellent in the Nighthawks’ goal, stopping 35 shots on the evening to get his first win at home this season.
“He never falters,” said Cech. “He’s a rock for us back there, and we’re so happy to get him this year on our team.”
One of the nice stories on the night was Landmark’s Bryce Warkentine scoring his first Nighthawks goal of the season. Tonight’s win was sweeter for him because Warkentine had played for Steinbach last season.
“We just played hard, and we’re hard on pucks all night, and just didn’t let up,” said Warkentine. “After not getting invited to Steinbach’s training camp this season and Coach Kelvin taking a chance on me, it sure feels sweet.”
The Nighthawks return to the ice on Friday night at the CRRC (7:30 p.m.) for a game against the Winnipeg Blues.