It was awesome!
Kenora goalie Cooper Hatfield could barely contain his excitement, as he celebrated a 5-4 overtime win. He stopped 41 shots, and pulled off some enormous saves allowing the underdog Thistles a badly-needed victory.
"It's one of the best team in the league. It feels good to win those," he said, with a big smile.
There were scrambles in the crease and flashes of leather, all showing why Hatfield's third in save percentage in the Manitoba league. Quite an accomplishment on a team that's been struggling of late.
"We were working hard. It's a good team win," Hatfield added, after the final whistle.
He gave credit to Dylan Winsor for the game-winner in OT, but for Winsor there was also a healthy amount of redemption involved. He got to take the goat horns off, after taking four minor penalties in the game.
In his rookie year, the Ear Falls native had 22 points in 21 games to lead the Thistles in scoring.
Before puck drop, most fans would've been forgiven, if they flashed back to the 8-3 drubbing the Wild handed Kenora two weeks ago. Since then, the Thistles had lost four straight.
Then again, that's why they play the game, as Kenora jumped out to a 2-0 lead against second-place Winnipeg. They could easily have made it 3-0, but close the deal, before the Wild started their comeback.
The Wild had only lost twice in 20 starts before tonight, and they didn't go quietly. A minute into the third, it was all tied up 2-2, before Winnipeg got the go-ahead goal on the powerplay for a 3-2 lead.
You could almost hear the shoulders sagging, as the heavily-favoured Wild took the lead, but Kenora simply wouldn't quit. Instead, the Thistles focused on the scoreboard.
Winsor scored his first of the game to make it 3-3 halfway through the period, then Cooper Witherspoon added another 20 seconds later for a 4-3 Kenora lead. Fans were starting to believe in another Miracle on Ice.
However, with just over a minute left to play, Kenora's bench went crazy, as the referees called two straight minor penalties in the final five minutes, and the Wild tied the game at 4-4 on the powerplay, sending it into overtime.
Still, the home team refused to quit, as Winsor got his second of the game. On the forecheck, he stripped the defenceman of the puck, then calmly put the game on ice.
It was the kind of win the Midget AAA Thistles badly needed, as they get ready for a road game in Beausejour Sunday against Eastman.
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