Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
For the second game in a row, the Nighthawks lost a heartbreaker in the dying minutes as they fell 5–4 to the Portage Terriers on Sunday afternoon at the CRRC. With the loss, the Nighthawks stay in fourth place in the MJHL’s East Division with a 21–20–4 record, four points ahead of the fifth-place Selkirk Steelers.
Portage got off to a quick start with two goals early in the first period before Brendan Bottem got one back for Niverville. By the midway point in the second period, the Nighthawks found themselves down 4–1.
That’s when the home side woke up and made another spectacular comeback. Braden Panzer scored twice for the Nighthawks, and Evan Bortis potted one home as well to tie the game at 4–4 with only a few minutes remaining in the game.
Sadly, for the second straight night there would be no happy ending for the Nighthawks. Portage scored the backbreaker goal with 1:26 remaining in the game to win 5–4.
Chris Fines stopped 33 shots in goal for the Nighthawks.
“Take out our sloppy first period and we were able to climb back into the game and score some goals,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “But once again, we lost a game in the final minutes where it could have been a win once again. I haven’t seen one of those games ever, let alone two in the same weekend, so you shake your head a little bit. The guys are frustrated and annoyed, and that’s the tough part in all of this.”
Cech noted that the team has made some mistakes that have cost them, but he firmly believes they really aren’t playing all that poorly despite the recent results.
“It’s all of us together,” he said. “Since the start of the season, we’re all on the same side and working as one. We have excellent leadership in that room. And not just the older guys that wear letters. Braden Panzer was phenomenal today and is a heart and soul guy, so we have lots of players that lead in their own way. We’re going to get out of this slump together.”
The Nighthawks continue their home stand next weekend with a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the OCN Blizzard and Swan Valley Stampeders.
“We need to execute in games the stuff we work on in practice. I’m happy that our special teams have improved, and that’s something we practice a lot. Managing the puck and our emotions are two big things we need to improve on in our next games, and hopefully, get two big points in each of them.”