Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings took a 2-0 lead with two power play goals, but failed to hold back the Nipawin Hawks in the third period. The Hawks would level the game in regulation, forcing overtime, where they would mark the game winner with 53 seconds left in extra period.
Goalkeeper Dazza Mitchell made his first start of the season and looked sharp, keeping the Hawks off the board until the third period. The number of shots he faced caught up with him, however, as he ended up ending the game by repelling 35 of 38 shots. Despite this, the rookie looked strong on his first start in the SJHL.
“I coached him at Bantam for two years and saw the same,” Red Wings head coach Cody Mapes said of Mitchell’s performance. “He helped us reach a provincial final at that time. I watched him at PHA, he did a great job there. If he could have played at the Midget AAA last year, he would have been one of the best goalies in the league last year. That’s why he’s here now.
Weyburn opened the power-play score just 4:42 to go into the second period when Braden Birnie found Shayde Peterson with a clear line of sight in the face-off circle. Peterson would put the shot in the twine, giving Weyburn a 1-0 lead.
The Wings’ second goal came just after the halfway point. Just eight seconds into the power play, Birnie scored again, this time handing the puck to Cayde Augustine on point. His shot went over the hand of Nipawin goalkeeper Chase Hamm’s glove, giving Weyburn a 2-0 lead.
The score would hold until the third period when Christian Albertson scored for Nipawin just 44 seconds into the period. Then Carter Wickenheiser would take a pass at the top of the crease to beat Mitchell with 6:51 on the clock to make it 2-2.
The Hawks would end up with a late regulating power play, but the Wings were able to kill it. One of the highlights of the late-game penalty kill came from Birnie, who nailed the puck against the Hawks’ side for a solid 15 seconds as four Hawks tried to dislodge him. Eventually the room was blown out after time was killed.
“He might not have the C on his chest, but he is as much a leader as anyone else on this team and the youngsters look up to him,” Mapes said. “When he does something like that on the penalty kill that isn’t on the stats sheet, all the guys make sure he feels the love.”
In overtime, both teams had a few chances, but in the end it would be the Hawks’ Dawson Brace who scored, giving Nipawin the 3-2 victory.
Penalties proved to be a thorn in the side for the Red Wings in the game, as they allowed eight power play chances. The defense, however, managed to keep the Hawks away from the boar with the man advantage. On the other end, Weyburn grabbed two of his four chances. The power-play goals came so quickly into the power-play that while the Hawks were penalized with eight minutes, Weyburn only had 4:33 of power-play time, with Peterson’s goal coming from 25. seconds after the start of the power play and Augustine’s. .
“The power play looked good when we had our chances,” said Mapes. “Our penalty kill looked way too often tonight. You can’t take eight penalties against any team, let alone against teams working their tail; eventually, it will bite you.
With a 1-2-1-0 record, the Red Wings are now third in the Viterra Division with three points at the start of the season.
The Wings will prepare for their next game on the road on Friday when they visit the Estevan Bruins. This will be Weyburn’s first trip to Affinity Place, where they scored a victory during the preseason. In the Wings’ first meeting of the Bruins this season, Estevan earned a 6-3 victory.
You can watch Friday’s game on Re Wing Radio, BIG106 with the pre-game from 7:15 p.m.