By: Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Niverville Nighthawks continue to roll as they picked up their third straight win on Sunday evening by dispatching the Winnipeg Freeze by a 6–3 scoreline.
The Nighthawks improve to 4–4–0 on the year, which is good for fifth place in the MJHL’s rugged East Division.
“We’ve battled our way back to .500 on the year, so we’re pretty excited,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “We’ve worked hard for our offence the last couple of games, and we’re very happy to see it come in.”
Zak Kennett opened the game’s scoring for the Nighthawks midway through the first period. The Freeze would tie it up a few minutes later, and that’s how the first period ended.
The Nighthawks got a pair of goals in the early stages of the second frame from Brendan Kerr and Carter Spirig. Although the Freeze got one back with only 13 seconds remaining in the period, Niverville led 3–2 after two periods.
Three goals in the third period for the Nighthawks—scored by Brendan Kerr and two from Josh Paulhus—sealed the deal.
“I think the boys are starting to feel a lot more comfortable on the ice together,” said Brendan Kerr, who had two goals and one assist on the night. “The chemistry is starting to show itself. It’s always nice having a group that starts to click at the right times, especially in these last three games… I tried to put more faith into my own game today and playing a big role, and the puck just ended up on my stick. In the moment when they give you the time and space, you gotta take it, and it’s always extra great when it passes that goal line.”
The score was a lot closer than the game perhaps should have been as the Winnipeg Freeze netminder was under heavy siege all night and forced to make a number of terrific saves to keep his side in the game. Niverville fired a blistering 62 shots on goal throughout the course of the evening.
Scott Thompson was also solid and earned his first MJHL win in goal for the Nighthawks, stopping 34 of 37 shots.
After winning three games in a row, Coach Cech is quick to note how pleased he is by his players’ work ethic in practice, saying that it shows on the ice when game time comes.
“It starts with the players. They’re very coachable and a resilient group. We started the year with a couple of losses, but we didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Cech. “We just really went to work in practice and off the ice as well, and we got rewarded, so the process has worked so far.”
Next up, the Nighthawks have a home-and-away series this weekend on Friday and Sunday against the Virden Oil Capitals. The Nighthawks will be at home for the Friday game at the CRRC at 7:30 p.m.
The Oil Capitals are currently in second place in the West Division, so it will be a great test for the Nighthawks to see where they’re at.
“We need to go back and work hard at practice this week,” said Cech. “We’ll review this game and see what we can improve on. We have a bunch of practices and some off-ice stuff to prepare things for the guys. We’ll put a plan in place for Virden and see what happens on Friday!”
“I think we just need to keep consistent with our preparation and playing as a whole unit,” added Kerr. “Coach has been on us about starting at the drop of the puck, and it’s starting to show as we’re getting the results we need from playing hard off the get-go. When we play this team game, it doesn’t matter who it is we’re up against, we’re just playing our identity, and it’s working.”