Until Sunday, Nov. 4, the Nipawin Hawks had only surrendered four goals or more on four different occasions in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) season.
On top of that, the Hawks have never had to pull their goaltender in the middle of a game. Both those things happened in the first 10 minutes against the Melville Millionaires.
The Millionaires took a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the game, but the Hawks tied it up in less than a minute until the Mills scored another two goals to lead 4-2 halfway through the first.
A tip-in from Daniel Liberty on the Millionaires' power play was the final goal head coach Doug Johnson allowed goaltender Patrick Pugliese to be in net for.
Johnson told northeastNOW he asked the Hawks athletic therapist a potential life or death question on the bench.
“I had to ask Emma (Galloway) if there was a defibrillator in the rink,” Johnson said. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack, I was so mad. We just didn’t show up prepared to win a 1-0 hockey game and it showed.”
Declan Hobbs, the Hawks starting goaltender who played the previous night in a 6-5 shootout loss in Humboldt, pulled double duty and was perfect in relief making 29 saves.
“He was a brick wall,” Johnson said. “He played the way that he plays. Last night people may see that he gave up some goals, but he didn’t really have a chance. There was a lot of traffic in front, and tonight he just wasn’t going to let anything by him.”
“He was exactly what we needed.”
Johnson said the message in the first intermission was to play with pride and take care of the little things.
The little things were important in the second period, as the Hawks had to kill nearly a full double minor penalty at the start.
Near the end of the penalty kill, where the little things were taken care of and no more goals were surrendered, Austen Flaman made a smart read to break free off the right boards and scored his eleventh goal of the season shorthanded.
Trailing 4-3 into the third, Carson Erhardt scored within three minutes to tie it up, before Flaman struck again on the power play to put the Hawks up 5-4.
Facing a final goal stand in the final minute against a pressing Millionaires squad, Hobbs continued to be the brick wall Johnson mentioned, and the Hawks comeback was complete.
The Hawks sit with a 14-5-0-1 record with 29 points, good for first in the Sherwood Divison and the overall SJHL standings.
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