The Winkler Flyers struggled in their first game back from the Christmas break, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Oil Capitals in Virden. Coltyn Bates and Matt Christian both scored for Winkler in a losing cause as the club started 2018 on the wrong foot.
With 17 days off between games, the Flyers hit the road for the first of three straight away from home to start the unofficial second half of the season. It was back and forth game, and the Flyers did get their fair share of chances on goal, but at the end of the night the Oil Capitals were able to take advantage numerous Flyers’ mistakes.
The home team struck first, when leading scorer Tyler Kirkup picked off a Winkler pass at the blueline and went in to score the first goal of the game just before the eight minute mark of the opening period.
Winkler got that one back a few minutes later when Coltyn Bates scored with 7:29 left in the first, putting an end to an impressive looking power-play for the Flyers. Weiland Parrish and Brady Pupp assisted on Bates’ 16th of the season. With the Flyers outshooting Virden 14-10, the game went tied 1-1 into the intermission.
The Oil Capitals started the second frame with a power-play goal of their own as Ben Dalke finished off a back door pass just over a minute into the period and Winkler was once again down by one. The score remained 2-1 for the Oil Caps into the third, due in large part to Winkler goalie Troy Martyniuk who faced 19 shots in the second period alone.
The game got away from the Flyers in the third, as Virden took advantage of two Winkler mistakes in the first four minutes of the period and built up their lead to 4-1. A tip in goal with just over six minutes remaining pushed the Oil Caps in front by four goals. Then with over a minute left on the clock, Flyers’ leading scorer Matt Christian stripped Virden netminder Riley McVeigh of the puck behind the net and tucked in his 17th to cut the lead to 5-2.
However, the damage had already been done and the Oil Capitals would go on to hand the Flyers a 5-2 loss in their third meeting of the season. Martyniuk kept his team in the game as best he could, finishing the night with 36 saves as the Oil Capitals outshot the Flyers 41-29. Winkler went 1-for-4 on the power-play and 2-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (23-13-0) will have a few days of practice to shake off the rust before heading back on the road this weekend. Winkler will travel to Dauphin on Saturday (7:30pm) and Waywayseecappo on Sunday (4pm) with both games being heard live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com. You can also watch the games with a subscription to www.hockeytv.com.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F RYLEE ZIMMER (VIRDEN)
2ND STAR – F TYLER KIRKUP (VIRDEN)
3RD STAR – F COLTYN BATES (WINKLER)
NOTE: The Flyers have released Defenseman Owen Wiebe (99). The Winkler native recorded four points in 11 games played with the Flyers this season. The Flyers would like to thank Owen for his hard work this season and wish him all the best in the future.