A four goal third period proved to be the undoing for the Neepawa Natives on Friday night, as they were beaten 6-3 by the Winkler Flyers. For the first two periods, Neepawa proved to be the equal and at times the better team on the ice. Momentum shifted dramatically in the final 20 minutes however, as the Flyers proved to be too much for the young Natives squad to handle.
Neepawa jumped out to a quick start and was able to put Winkler on the defensive early. That pressure paid off at 6:07, when Nathan Hillis scored his fifth goal of the season, to provide and early advantage for the home side. Just under five minutes later Aiken Chop added to the lead, to make it 2-0.
That second goal woke up Winkler’s offence, as they retaliated with a pair of goals within 39 seconds of one another to stun the home crowd and make it 2-2. Neepawa’s players however, simply brushed off the setback and continued to stay aggressive in the Winkler zone. That tenacity paid off before the end of the first, as Austin Hingtgen notched Neepawa’s third goal of the first at 16:23.
Winkler would press for the equalizer in the second period, but could not solve the solid goaltending of Jeremy Link. An early third period penalty against the Flyers appeared to be the break Neepawa needed to secure a potential insurance goal. While the Natives came close to adding to their lead, it was not to be. Then with just seconds left in the penalty, Winkler’s Kayden Jarvis stole the puck at his own blue line and hit Zak Hicks, the Flyer player who was serving the penalty for slashing, just as he exited the box. Hicks raced into the Neepawa zone on a breakaway and scored his eighth of the season, to tie the game up at 3-3.
From that point on, Winkler’s confidence grow and they began to overpower Neepawa in their own zone. That paid off in a big way, as the Flyers added three more goals in the late stages of the game, including a pair on the power-play.
The disappointing defeat drops Neepawa to 6-20 on the season, while Winkler improved to 20-4-1