By: Ty Dilello
The Niverville Nighthawks gave it a spirited fight on Friday night at the CRRC to a roaring house of fans. However, it was not meant to be as they fell to the Winkler Flyers by a narrow 3–2 score to move their record on the year to one win and three losses.
Chris Fines made his fourth consecutive start in goal for the Nighthawks and put up another solid showing, stopping 24 of 27 shots faced.
The Flyers opened the scoring in the first period, but the Nighthawks levelled the game midway through the second frame on the power play when Brendan Kerr tipped a point shot past the Flyers netminder Malachi Klassen.
Winkler then scored late in the second period and added another marker early in the third to push the lead to 3–1.
With the goalie pulled late in the game, Brendan Kerr tallied his second goal of the night on the power play.
“It’s always nice potting a goal in front of the crowd and hearing the electricity bump, but it’s really about just pumping the boys up,” said Brendan Kerr. “Trying to get a spark when we’re down, and you get the greasy ones, and the team finds that life inside them, especially when we have the home crowd behind us.”
Sadly, with only 20 seconds left in the game remaining when Kerr scored, the Nighthawks simply ran out of time.
“It was a highly contested game with pressure all over on the ice,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “I thought we played good but had some self-inflicted mistakes that cost us a couple of goals. But I actually thought we were really strong the first half of the game. Then they really came on strong in the second half. It was back and forth, but at the end of the night we weren’t good enough and gotta go back to work.”
The game was also quite the chippy affair, with lots of penalties on both sides. However, it was the Nighthawks that converted twice on the power play while the Flyers could not muster anything with the man advantage.
“Our guys, I thought, did a good job of staying disciplined,” said Cech. “Our power play is kind of coming on now with a couple of goals tonight. The Flyers really tried hard to get us after losing in their rink the other night, and you got to expect that in this league.”
“I think it’s safe to say everyone’s going to be gunning for us,” added Kerr. “We have the nearby teams that we will play more than the north, and everyone’s going to be upset that an expansion team is running them out. I think that’s what fuels our fire is that we have the chance to do special things, and everyone’s going to be out to get us. This is where we learn and use it to our advantage in the future.”
The Nighthawks have a day off on Saturday and then will head to the city on Sunday night to play the Winnipeg Freeze at Bell MTS IcePlex at 6:00 p.m.
“We’ve got to go back to some video and tighten a few things up,” said Cech. “The Freeze are coming off a tough loss to Steinbach, so they’re going to be real dangerous as they want to get a win just like we do. It’s going to be a fun hockey game.”