The Neepawa Natives have rebounded from an extremely disappointing weekend with a very important road win. After falling to Virden and Steinbach on consecutive nights, Neepawa returned to the ice on Tuesday, Feb. 23 to take on the Selkirk Steelers. Desperately needing a win to remain in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoff chase, the Natives came back from a two goal deficit late in the third period, to win in overtime 3-2.
The game, like many others between the two teams this season, was a tightly contested battle with neither side able to gain an early advantage. It wouldn’t be until past the midway point of the game, that Selkirk would be able to open up the scoring, as Dallas Starodub secured his 21st goal of the season, to give the Steelers the 1-0 lead. Before the end of the second, Jake Dudar added another for Selkirk to give them a two goal advantage.
In the third, Neepawa took over control of the game, outshooting the Steelers by a 12-6 margin. That aggression paid off at the 11:27 mark, as Griffin Chwaliboga scored on a power play. The team continued to press for the equalizer and were able to find it late in regulation, as Brayden Atkinson secured his 14th goal and 37th point of the year, with barely two minutes remaining in the game. For the second straight time, these two teams would play in overtime to decide a winner. Unlike the last time however, Neepawa would not need to go to a shootout to secure the extra point in the standings, as Nolan Richards scored at the mid-point of the five-minute overtime and gave the team a very important win. The victory improved Neepawa’s record on the season to 12-42-2 for 26 points. As of Wednesday, Feb. 24, the club was six points behind Waywayseecappo in the standings for the final playoff spot.
Earlier in the week, the Natives had played in Virden against the Oil Capitals and a home matchup versus the Steinbach Pistons. On Saturday, Feb. 20, Virden outlasted Neepawa 6-4, while on Saturday, the 21st, Steinbach shutout the Natives 9-0.