2016: A banner year in sports


By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner/Neepawa Press

With 2016 now a part of history, it’s time to look back at the past 12 months in Neepawa’s sports landscape. While parts of last year were not all that positive (i.e. the demise of the Farmers baseball team & the MSBL, another non-playoff year for the Natives…), there was still more than enough to keep local sports enthusiasts interested. Here are snippets from the top five sports stories of 2016, according to mywestman.ca and the Neepawa Banner’s Facebook page. Links to the complete articles can be found with the story synopsis.

1. Apr. 2016: Big step for Rankin Inlet family

About 100 families from across Canada and the United States converged on the Yellowhead Arena for the Neepawa Natives’ annual spring prospects camp. For one family, that journey had some added challenges, but at the same time added significances.

15-year-old goaltending prospect Seth Ningeongan, as well as father David, mother Ann Makpah and sister Alayna, travelled a combined 1,654 kilometres from their home of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to Winnipeg and then to Neepawa to be a part of the event. 

Big step for Rankin Inlet family - Friday, Apr. 1, 2016


2. Apr. 2016: New bench boss 

A familiar name to many fans of the Neepawa Natives is taking over as the team’s new bench boss. The Junior ‘A’ club confirmed on Tuesday, Apr. 12 that Dustin Howden will be the team’s new head coach for the 2016-2017 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season.  Howden, who has served as an assistant coach for the past two season, has signed a three year deal with the organization.  

Natives hire Howden - Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016


3. Oct. 2016: Headed to the Hall of Fame

Neepawa’s presence within the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame is growing significantly. The 1993-1997 edition of the Neepawa Farmers, as well as for Farmers pitchers Don Schmall and Vince Eastman will be honoured with induction in 2017.

Schmall and Eastman are two of nine former players entering the Hall as part of the individual category. Along with the Neepawa Farmers, the 1990-1996 Ebb and Flow Lakers are going into the Hall in the small community team category.

Headed to the Hall of Fame - Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016


4. Sept. 2016: A career cut short

The promising on-ice career of Jared Pelechaty has come to an abrupt end. The 17-year-old defencemen, who played 39 games for the Neepawa Natives last season, has announced via Twitter that he must retire from the game. The reason for the unexpected move was attributed to an increased likelihood of long-term and severe back issues, if he continued pursuing contact sports. Pelechaty learned of the diagnosis while attending the training camp of the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds, the major junior hockey team he played nine games for in 2015-2016.  

Pelechaty forced to retire - Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016


5. Nov. 2016: Ready to rumble

A member of the Boxe Neepawa Combat and Fitness Club was looking to make an impact in muay thai fighting. 18-year-old Logan Russell made his debut in this version of the combat sport on Saturday, Nov. 26, in Kenora at the K-Town Throwdown. He challenged northern Ontario fighter Logan MacDonald in a scheduled three round tilt.  The contest was Russell’s first foray into the form of striking known as ‘the art of eight limbs’, due to its use of fists, elbows, knees and shins to strike an opponent.

Neepawa fighter ready to rumble - Friday, Nov. 25, 2016