The Neepawa Natives scored five goals in the third period to stage an amazing 5-3 come from behind victory over the OCN Blizzard in Manitoba Junior Hockey League action on Sunday, Dec. 6. The win was Neepawa’s seventh of the season and third over OCN this year.
In this game, Neepawa found itself trailing early, as OCN was able to score a pair of goals in the opening period. Braedan Cross and Logan Harland were credited with the goals. In the second, both teams traded multiple quality opportunities, but could not add to the scoreboard.
Things took a turn for the dramatic in the third period however, as Neepawa scored its first of the evening just 30 seconds into the final frame. Kyle McDonald scored on the power-play to energize both his teammates and the crowd and cut OCN’s lead to one. The Blizzard answered back quickly however, just over 90 second later, as forward Braeden Cross secured his second goal of the evening for the visitors.
Undeterred, Neepawa continued to battle back and put pressure on OCN goaltender Brett Epp. That no-quit attitude eventually paid off as Kyle McDonald added his second of the night with 14:56 remaining in the game. A little under 90 seconds later, Brayden Atkinson tied things up for the Natives. For the next seven minutes of play, both teams pressed for the potential game winner, but were stymied by OCN’s Epp and Neepawa goaltender Jeremy Link. The crowd remained on the edge of its seat as time ticked away and tension grew inside the Yellowhead Centre. Then, with 6:08 second left in regulation, Nathan Hillis slipped a shot past Epp and caused the crowd of 423 fans to erupt in jubilation, as the Natives took the lead for the first time in the game.
For the last few minutes of the game, OCN peppered the Neepawa net with shots, but Link and the Natives’ defence threw everything they had at them to keep the puck out of the back of the net. With the OCN net empty, Justin Metcalf secured the win with Neepawa’s fifth goal of the period with just 16 seconds remaining on the clock.
At the mid-point of the season, Neepawa remains in 11th place in the standings, but is only four points back of Waywayseecappo for the final playoff spot. The next action for Neepawa is set for Wednesday, Dec. 9, when they travel to Steinbach to face the Pistons. The next home game will be one Sunday, Dec. 13 versus the Swan Valley Stampeders. Opening face off is set for 6:30 pm.