Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks have ended their inaugural MJHL season after a 5–1 loss on the road to the Portage Terriers on Friday night in game five of their first round best-of-seven series.
It was an anticlimactic ending to an amazing season full of highlights for the Nighthawks in a game that Portage simply dominated from start to finish.
The Terriers outshot the Nighthawks 16–3 in the first period. And the score could have been worse than 1–0 Portage after the period ended if it hadn’t been for the strong play of Chris Fines in goal.
Portage was able to break through in the second period with a pair of goals to extend their lead to 3–0. The Nighthawks showed some life early in the final period with a power play goal from Evan Bortis to get it to 3–1, but sadly that’s as close as they would get.
Portage scored twice more in the third period to win the game 5–1 and the series four games to one.
“They were really fast in our zone, and we had some trouble keeping up with them,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “They cycled the puck well and had a lot of first and second opportunities. We were chasing a bit, and Fines kept us in it early on. We were on the penalty kill for a lot of the game, and that sort of sucks the flow from us, as some players are sitting for long stretches, which is tough. We also didn’t test their goalie tonight enough, as they kept us to the outside. And by the time we did get to the net more in the third period, we were too far behind in the game and were chasing too much.”
Despite the tough loss, Cech and his coaching staff say that are pleased that they were able to push the first-place Terriers in a series that felt a lot closer than the result may suggest.
“We’re a bunch of castoffs with players from organizations that didn’t want them or didn’t have room, so we’re the misfits that came in and played Portage hard,” Cech said. “It’s unfortunate the series went five games, as I thought it was a lot closer than it was. But that’s hockey, and we’ll come back stronger next season.”
With the inaugural season wrapped up, the Nighthawks will turn their attention to the upcoming spring camp, which will be taking place during the third weekend of April at the CRRC.
Thank you to all the fans and readers who have supported the Nighthawks this season! We will see you again when the Nighthawks retake the ice in the fall.