Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks kicked off their 2023–24 campaign on a winning note in front of a packed CRRC crowd by dispatching the Selkirk Steelers by a 5–3 score.
The fans got quite the show for the home opener, as the Nighthawks rallied from a 3–1 deficit in the third period to win the game in regulation.
After a scoreless opening period, Nighthawks captain Brett Tataryn got the team on the board early in the second period. Following that first goal, Selkirk outplayed Niverville the rest of the period and scored a trio of goals to lead 3–1.
The Nighthawks came to play in the final frame—and it was the new players on the team taking over. Mighton Johnson, Nathan Brown, Michael Debrito, and Caleb Lepitre all scored their first goals for the club on their way to securing victory.
Keegan Gordon made 27 saves in goal for the Nighthawks.
The game was also notable for a large number of penalty minutes, a result of the teams seeming eager to mix it up, especially in the second and third periods.
Head coach Kelvin Cech was pleased with his team’s efforts on the first night of the season.
“I thought we played fine the first two periods, but it was not quite enough offensive zone time,” said Cech. “The game turned on that first goal in the third period to get the game to 3–2, and then skill took over with Nathan Brown and Michael Debrito’s big goals with their wicked shot. It’s fun and exciting, and it was a great first night for sure in Niverville.”
The Brown and Debrito goals were each highlight reel scores, and both identical top-corner snipes that the Steelers goalie had no chance on.
“They come in as first-year guys, and you’re not sure where they’re going to fit in,” said Cech of the pair of rookies. “Brown is a Division 1 college player next season for a reason, and Debrito comes with a lot of skill, too. Goal scorers want to score, and we got two points because of it.”
Nathan Brown was also named player of the game.
The Nighthawks are right back to work on Saturday night at the CRRC, where they will likely face a much stiffer test from the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Seventeen-year-old Raiden LeGall is expected to get his first start in net for the Nighthawks.
“The biggest thing at this point of the year is to worry about us,” said Cech. “We’ll come back in the morning and hopefully clean up a few things defensively. We know it’s going to be another big game, and we’re excited to get back at it.”