The Winkler Flyers dropped a 5-3 decision to the visiting Virden Oil Capitals on Sunday night, beginning a stretch of five straight games at home. The loss was the Flyers’ first in regulation since December 18th, and first at home since the first week of December.
With a 10-0-1 record in their last 11 games, and riding a seven game home ice winning streak, the Winkler Flyers welcomed the Virden Oil Capitals to the Winkler Recreation Complex looking to keep their winning ways going in their final regular season meeting of the season.
With their previous five games against the Oil Capitals all being decided by a single goal, Sunday’s game was another fast paced, entertaining, back and forth style of hockey that had a little bit of everything. Near the end of an even first period, the Oil Caps jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Captain Kolten Kanaski with 4:47 left before intermission.
Winkler tied it up just over two minutes into the second period when Everett Bestland scored off the rush, pulling the Flyers even 1-1. Linemates Jackson Arpin and Carson Pawlenchuk picked up the assists on Bestland’s fifth of the season. After Virden moved back in front on the power-play, the Flyers tied it up again with less than three minutes to go in the second.
This time it was leading scorer Jayden McCarthy who skated down the right wing and snapped a wrist shot into the net to tie the game 2-2. Mateo Albinati, who had missed the previous 16 games due to injury assisted on McCarthy’s third goal in his last four games, moving him into a tie for top spot in the MJHL with 28 goals.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, the Oil Capitals went back in front 3-2 just 30 seconds later. However, before the end of the period, the Flyers answered back to tie the game up again before intermission. With just 16 seconds left on the clock, Drake Burgin and Grady Lane assisted on Jaden Townsend’s 12th of the year and the game was all square through 40 minutes.
Sporting the league’s best offense, Virden pulled ahead for good with two more goals in the third period and the Flyers would be forced to settle for the 5-3 loss. It was Winkler’s first regulation loss since December 18th in Portage, and their first regulation loss at home since December the 6th. That loss, ironically enough was also against Virden.
Dorrin Luding made 29 stops in the loss as the Oil Capitals outshot the Flyers 34-33. Winkler went 0-for-1 on the power-play and 2-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (29-11-5) will host the Portage Terriers in a big game on Monday night. The second place Flyers lead the third place Terriers by just a single point in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings. Monday’s game is a rescheduled game from earlier in the season. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm with the broadcast live on www.hockeytv.com