By: Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks put up their finest display of the season to date as they dispatched the MJHL’s top-ranked Portage Terriers (10–2–0) in convincing 6–2 fashion.
With the impressive road win, the Nighthawks move into a playoff spot for the first time this season. The Nighthawks are 5–6–0 on the year, which is good for fourth place in the MJHL’s East Division.
“I’m just very pleased by the contributions all over the lineup,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “With so many special teams, lots of guys either double-shifted or sat for stretches of the game, but everyone made an impact with their opportunity. It’s an excellent team win and something we can build on.”
The Nighthawks took it to the Terriers early with two goals from Brendan Bottem in the first period. Newly signed forward Braden Panzer out of Grand Forks made it 3–0 for the Nighthawks just 30 seconds into the second period.
After Portage got one back, the Nighthawks were relentless and got a pair of power play goals from Ben Whitford and Brett Tataryn.
The Terriers scored early in the final frame, but Ty Kennett sealed it with an empty net goal to end the game 6–2 in Niverville’s favour.
Ethan Kadatz had a quiet night in goal for the Nighthawks, stopping 13 of 15 shots, as his club outshot Portage by a 25–15 margin.
“We tried to limit their grade A chances, and it worked out,” said Cech. “We didn’t turn the puck over in our zone, and all five players worked to their position. We moved the puck well out of our zone, which meant we didn’t spend extra time there.”
Cech noted that beating a top team like Portage is a big statement for his club. And that statement resonates in the room more than anything.
“The guys are starting to believe and really pull in the same direction,” said Cech. “They earned a big two points against a powerful program.”
The Nighthawks are back in action on Saturday night with a road game (7:30 p.m.) against the Neepawa Titans. They then return home to play a Sunday matinee (3:00 p.m.) against OCN Blizzard.
“We’ve got some business to take care of on the ice, in the gym, and in the video room the next couple of days,” Cech added. “Every day is about getting a little bit better, so we’ll just stick to the process. How we do anything is how we do everything.”