Neepawa Natives lose to Blues



By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

The Neepawa Natives proved on Wednesday night that they could compete with the best teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, but only for 40 to 50 minutes at a time.

A slow start in the third period proved to be the Natives’ undoing, as the Winnipeg Blues won 5-2.

Neepawa started the game strong, control the tempo for the majority of the first period. That hard work eventually paid off, when at 12:44 of the first Drake Lindsay scored to make it 1-0. Brady Bouchard picked up the assist. Before the end of the period however, Winnipeg picked up a goal to make it 1-1.

There was no scoring in the second period and the shots after 40 minutes saw Winnipeg put 18 on the net against Alex Henry, while Neepawa notched 17 shots on goal.

Momentum turned in the Blues’ favour in the third, as they were able to score three goals within the first nine and a half minutes of the final frame. Jordan Martin scored an unassisted goal for the Natives at 13:24, to make it 4-2. An empty net goal at 19:43 of the third, made the final 5-2 for Winnipeg.

After the game, Natives head coach Dwayne Kirkup said the team played hard, but just came out a bit sluggish to start the third.

“I thought we played a 50 minute hockey game. There was that ten minute sequence at the start of the third period, where we didn’t compete very hard,” said Kirkup. “Winnipeg made the best of their chances and we didn’t.  And, I thought, that we probably out chanced them. It’s just they made the best of theirs.”

Kirkup added that the team has to put this result behind them and focus on the things they did well and build on them for a full 60 minutes.

“We did compete with one of the best teams in the league for 50 minutes, stride for stride, shot for shot. We just didn’t get the outcome [we were hoping for].” said Kirkup. “Friday night, we start all over again and that’s what we have to build on.”

The loss drops Neepawa to 6-12-1 on the season. The Natives will return to the ice on Friday, Nov. 7, against the Winkler Flyers.