Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks find themselves on the brink of elimination after losing 3–1 to the Portage Terriers on Thursday night at the CRRC. With the loss, the Nighthawks now fall behind three games to one in their best-of-seven series with Portage.
For the fourth straight game, the Nighthawks opened the game’s scoring just a few minutes in with Josh Paulhus sniping one home in the top shelf of the net.
However, again for the fourth straight game, Portage replied in quick fashion with a pair of goals shortly after Paulhus’s tally.
Portage extended their lead to 3–1 in the dying seconds of the first period.
The Nighthawks went on to fight in the second and third period but could not solve Portage’s netminder Jayden Catellier, who made some terrific stops in close for the Terriers.
When the horn sounded, Portage took home a 3–1 win, as well as a 3–1 lead in the series.
Chris Fines stopped 30 shots in the Nighthawks’s goal on the evening.
“We know that if we give them opportunities, especially their top line, that they will capitalize on them,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “So we have to limit our mistakes against them. That’s kind of what’s plaguing us right now. It’s not like there’s one weakness in our game that they’re exploiting. It’s that we make a mistake here and there, and it hurts us.”
Portage’s Jayden Catellier made his first appearance in the series at a crucial time, as their other goalie, Bailey Monteith, had started the first three games in net. He was the game’s first star as he stole the contest away from Niverville.
“Catellier came in and was solid for Portage in net, making a ton of saves,” said Cech. “But we got to start generating more chances on him and getting in front of the net in a darn hurry to make life tougher on him.”
Even though the series is now solidly tilted in Portage’s favour, the series feels far from over, as the Nighthawks have been in each and every single game to date and have pushed the Terriers more than the outsider might realize.
It’s a quick turnaround as the Nighthawks are back in action tonight game five on the road. It’s a must-win game to keep Niverville’s season alive. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
“Our mentality is that we really want to play another game in Niverville,” said Cech. “We want playoff hockey to keep going, and that’s the message that we have to turn the page really quick and win a game in Portage again on Friday night.”