NACI Tigers defeat Souris Sabres



By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Press/Neepawa Banner

A pair of wins have helped the NACI Tigers hockey team climb back into the top tier of the Westman High School Hockey League standings. The Tigers first claimed a solid 3-1 win in Brandon on Thursday, Jan. 26 against the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. They followed that up the next night at home with an impressive 6-1 decision over the Souris/Reston Sabres. 

During the road game at Enns Brothers Arena, Neepawa’s Will and Ben Rainka, along with Baren Mitchler scored for the Tigers to secure the victory.

The next night, NACI returned home to the Yellowhead Centre to face the challenge of the Sabres. Baren Mitchler opened up the scoring near the mid-point of the period. Souris would tie things at 1-1, but before the end of the first NACI reclaimed the lead, as Will Rainka put away a power-play marker with just six seconds left in the opening period. 

After Neepawa took a 3-1 lead early in the second, both teams started getting a lot more physical and at times very chippy in their level of play. This caused both sides to start taking a few liberties out there on the ice. The officials were having no part of that, however, calling a grand total of 18 penalties between the two clubs with Souris receiving the worst of it at a combined 46 penalty minutes accumulated. Part of that included a major penalty and ejection for Sabres goaltender Dane Fortin in the third period. This allowed the Tigers a chance to put away three additional goals in the third, including a pair on the power-play, to ensure the 6-1 victory. Will Rainka had a pair of goals, while Brady McLeod, Baren Mitchler, Brennan Wiebe and Ben Rainka all added singles for the win.

These most recent wins push NACI into seventh place in the standings, with a 9-6-4 record. The next home game for the Tigers is Wednesday, Feb. 1 against the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. They’ll follow that up with another game on Friday, this time versus the Killarney Raiders. The start time for both those games at the Yellowhead Arena is set for 7:15 p.m.