Neepawa Natives heat things up against Blizzard


By Eoin Devereux

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The Neepawa Natives are doing everything they can to ensure that the final few weeks of the MJHL regular season are as dramatic as possible. The club recently collected a very important two points in the standings, with a 6-3 victory over the OCN Blizzard on Sunday, Feb. 11. The win ensured the Natives could keep within striking distance of the Swan Valley Stampeders for the final playoff spot. 

For the game against OCN, played at the Yellowhead Arena, it was a four goal outburst in the second period that ultimately propelled the Neepawa Natives to win. The Blizzard had jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a goal in the first and another early in the second period. Natives forward Justin Metcalf started the process of a comeback, with his 26th goal of the year.  A Josh Blondeau goal a few minutes later would ties things up a 2-2. While OCN would reclaim the lead with their third of the night with 7:21 left in the second, Neepawa quickly countered with two more goals of their own. Brett Namaka and Ashton Anderson tallied those, providing Neepawa with their first lead of the night, at 4-3. For Namaka, that was his 10th of the year, while Anderson picked up his 26th.

For most of the third period, both teams pushed for another goal, but it was Neepawa who succeeded, as Breaden Binda scored with just 4:31 left in regulation. An empty net goal from Jordan Martin a few minutes later secured the win for the Natives.

At the end of the night, Zach Johnson and Justin Metcalf had each registered three point performances, with Metcalf getting a goal and two assists, while Johnson having three assists. Anderson, Blondeau and Binda, meanwhile, also had multiple points, all earning a goal and assist.

This was Neepawa’s 23rd win of the year, giving the team a 23-26-3 record, good enough for 49 points on the year, with eight games left on the schedule.  That’s a significance milestone for the Natives, as it surpassed the points total they accumulated all of last year. (21 wins, 33 losses, 6 OT/SO losses. 48 points) over the course of 60 games.

Though it was a big win for Neepawa, it didn’t get them any closer to Swan Valley in the standings, as the Stampeders upended the Portage Terriers on Sunday night in Portage la Prairie 5-4. That win kept Swan Valley two points ahead of Neepawa in the MJHL standings.