A pair of goals from Brayden Atkinson, paired with a 58 save performance from goaltender Jeremy Link, helped lead the Neepawa Natives to 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Blues.
The game, held on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at the Yellowhead Centre, didn’t start out exactly the way Neepawa had hoped for, as the Blues pelted Link with 28 shots in the first period. The Winnipeg product, stood on his head however, making several remarkable stops to keep it even at 0-0. Late in the opening frame, however, Winnipeg finally slipped one past, as Reid Stefanson secured his 15th goal of the season.
Neepawa’s players were likely read the riot act in the first intermission from the coaches, as in the second period, the team started playing an aggressive, physical style of game. They also put together a much more solid defensive effort, cutting the shots on goal down to a more manageable 12 for the period. That hard work eventually paid off, though it was combined little bit of luck, with Neepawa forward Brayden Atkinson being the beneficiary. With 3:02 remaining in the second, the puck took an unusual bounce off the boards in the Winnipeg end, ricocheting right to an open Atkinson. He was able to take advantage, sliding it past the Winnipeg goaltender, to make it 1-1.
In the third period there were many opportunities on both sides of the ice, but it remain deadlocked a 1-1 at the end of regulation. In overtime, Atkinson scored his second goal of the game three minutes into the extra frame, with assists going to Kyle McDonald and Patrick Carlin.
This latest overtime win improved Neepawa’s regular season record to 10-37-1 on the year.