After an extended absence from the post-season, it’s hard to fault fans of the Neepawa Natives for wanting to celebrate the occasion. Just over 200 people did exactly that as they gathered at the Yellowhead Hall on Sunday, March 12 for a pep rally. These pre-game festivities allowed fans a chance to mingle in advance the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) club’s first home playoff game in seven years.
The rally included pork on a bun provided by HyLife Foods. Trevor Lizotte of HyLife Foods, said the company was very excited to be a part of the fun.
“HyLife has connection to both Neepawa and Steinbach, so it made sense for us to help kick off this series in a special way,” noted Lizotte. “It’s not just us though. The Neepawa Gladstone Co-op came up big. Farmery Brewery was also onsite and very supportive. Tim Hortons, as well as Northern Meats [were involved with the rally]. It’s very good to see.”
A special thanks goes out to all the sponsors who provided food or beverages including HyLife, Neepawa ShopEasy, Neepawa Gladstone Co-op, Farmery Brewery, Northern Meats and Tim Hortons. The Co-op also served as the official first round sponsor for the team.
On top of the food and drink, video highlights from Neepawa’s game one victory over the Steinbach Pistons were shown on a projection screen for the crowd to watch.
Jana Thorsteinson, the mother of Neepawa Natives defencemen Skyler Thorsteinson, helped to organize the players' family members at the rally. She handed out the team’s road sweater to the parents for them to wear during the game. Jana explained that the atmosphere surrounding the team and the community right now has been tremendous. She added this rally was a great way to keep that momentum going.
“The whole community is excited. People are coming up to [the players] as of late and encouraging them, which has been great to see,” Thorsteinson noted. “The boys have been saying that it’s been a lot of fun playing out there as of late. It’s been nice to see the arena full and the community come together in this manner.”
The festive spirit from the rally bled over into the halls of the Yellowhead Arena, as around 1,000 attended the game between Neepawa and the Steinbach Pistons.