The Neepawa Natives had their chances, but simply couldn’t find the back of the net in crunch time, during a 4-3 shootout loss to the Selkirk Steelers on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The entire game was a closely contested battle, which made for an exciting night of entertainment for those in attendance at the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa.
The first period started at a quick pace, as each club looking to take control early. It wouldn’t be until the 12:43 mark of the first until Selkirk’s Caiden Gault opened up the scoring with his 16th goal of the season. A few minutes later, however, Rhys Bremner put the puck in the back of the net, tying things up at 1-1. Brady Morrison and Cam Morris assisted on Bremner’s goal.
As the second period progressed, Neepawa started to take control and kept the action locked inside the Selkirk defensive zone. That pressure eventually paid off, with Natives’ forward Graeme Patrick putting away his third goal of the year. Assists went to Konnor Carlson and Parker Malchuk. Neepawa wouldn’t enjoy that lead for too long, however, as the Steelers would answer back at 15:41 with a goal on the power-play. Selkirk ended up with the advantage due to some extracurriculars during a fight. Neepawa’s Konnor Carlson and Selkirk’s Sheldon Howard decided to drop the gloves at the 15:21 mark of the second. After an entertaining tilt, Carlson got tagged with an extra two minutes with the rarely called aggressor penalty. The aggressor call is usually given to someone who engages in a fight with an unwilling combatant. Since Howard appeared to be the first to drop the gloves, many in attendance at the Yellowhead were left to wonder where the penalty came from. Just 20 seconds into the unexpected power-play, Selkirk would score, tying the game up at 2-2. It would be Gault who would pick up the goal, his second of the night, for the Steelers.
Third period & extra time
For the last 20 minutes of regulation, the ice really opens up and created some great scoring chances for each team. Selkirk took advantage first, with a goal at 7:03. Neepawa would rally back, with Will Highet snagging his 10th goal of the year. Noah Goertzen picked up the assist. goaltenders Michael Davis and Austin Deboer locked down the rest of regulation and the five minute overtime session, to send things to the shootout. After both sides were unsuccessful for three rounds, Selkirk’s Keenan Allan would end the night on a positive note for the visitors, scoring the game winner.
Though Neepawa did leave the ice with one point in the standings, it was still as case of what might have been, as this was the teams’ ninth game of the year where they lost by a lone goal. The first star of the game was awarded to Steelers forward Caiden Gault for his two goal effort. Neepawa’s Michael Davis was the second star with a 37 save night, while teammate Graeme Patrick (1 goal – 0 assists) received the third star.