It was a comeback for the ages on Friday night at the CRRC as the Niverville Nighthawks rallied from 3–0 down to defeat the Portage Terriers 4–3 in overtime. With the win, the Nighthawks stay in third place in the MJHL’s East Division with a record of 11–4–1.
The Terriers took it to Niverville for most of the contest, scoring three power play goals, including one in the first period and two in the second period to jump out to a 3–0 lead. Going into the third period, the home team seemed sluggish and dispirited.
Fans would be forgiven for having no clue about what was about to happen.
The game turned on its head midway through the third period when the line of Michael Tanchak, Ty Kennett, and Carter Spirig took over. Spirig and Tanchak scored in quick succession to get the game close.
Then, with the goalie pulled in the final minute, Spirig potted home his second goal of the night with just 24 seconds remaining to send it to overtime.
It was a quick overtime as Kaycee Coyle scored the game-winner just 18 seconds into the extra frame to give Niverville the dramatic 4–3 victory. Games don’t get much sweeter than this!
Keegan Gordon stopped 28 shots in the Nighthawks goal for the win.
“We were being beaten so thoroughly for most of the game, and we couldn’t get anything going,” said Nighthawks head coach Kelvin Cech. “Michael Tanchak, Ty Kennett, and Carter Spirig flipped the script with the first goal, and then I double-shifted them the rest of the way because they had that look in their eyes. And what a special night it became.”
Cech was quick to give credit to Carter Spirig, who can be an underrated player in the club. However, tonight his star shone brightest of all. He had a hand in all four goals, scoring two himself and assisting in both of the others.
“Something just clicked with Spirig tonight,” said Cech. “He’s had an awesome season and is a crucial part of our team, killing penalties, and he’s an assistant captain for a reason. The puck in those last few minutes tonight was just glued to his stick. He was possessed and was constantly going to the right areas. We’re so proud of his effort tonight.”
After the game, all the Nighthawks players and coaching staff celebrated the victory. This wasn’t just any win; it was monumental, especially over a perennial MJHL champion like Portage.
“There was more relief than anything after the game, as we know how tight the standings are,” Cech said. “It’s only November, but we’re fighting for playoff seeding, and Portage is one of the teams we’re fighting with. So we think this comeback win is huge for our team and we’re going to enjoy it.”
The Nighthawks are back in action tonight with a road game against the Selkirk Steelers. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.