Aiken Chop scored the shootout winner for the Neepawa Natives on Wednesday, Feb. 17, to secure a 4-3 win over the Selkirk Steelers. After five minutes of overtime solved nothing, it required eight rounds of shooters before the Natives were ultimately able to take home two points in the MJHL standings.
To get to that point however, Neepawa had to battle back from an early deficit, as Selkirk scored a pair of goals early in the first period. Midway through the opening frame however, Reigan Buchanan scored his 12th goal of the year, to cut the Steeler lead in half and breath new life into the Neepawa bench.
In the second period, Jordan Martin potted his eighth of the season to tie the game at 2-2. Selkirk’s Cole McCartan replied before the end of the second, however to reclaim the one goal advantage for the visiting team.
Neepawa came out aggressively in the third, hoping to climb back into the game. That hard work paid off as Brayden Atkinson scored his 13th of the year to once again, make it a tie game. That’s how it would remain for the rest of regulation.
The five minute overtime saw both teams get opportunities to earn the extra point in the standings, but goaltenders Jeremy Link and Selkirk’s Brett Friesen kept it tied and forced the game to head into a shootout. Selkirk would go first and miss in its first attempt on Jeremy Link, while Ashton Anderson and Brayden Atkinson each scored on their opportunities for Neepawa. The Steelers replied with a pair of goals of its own however, while Neepawa missed its third shot to send the shootout into sudden death. It would take five additional rounds of shooters to hit the ice before Aiken Chop ended the evening to earn the extra point for the home team.
Jeremy Link’s 51 save effort earned him the game’s first star, while Chop and Brayden Atkinson would receive second and third star honours.