The Winkler Flyers picked up their first win of 2020 with a well earned 3-1 victory over the Swan Valley Stampeders on Friday night. Eric Fawkes and Nathan Poolman led the way with multi-point nights to help the Orange and Black win their third game in a row.
Playing their first game back from the MJHL Christmas Break, the Winkler Flyers looked to build upon a pair of home ice victories to close out 2019 as they kicked off the new year with a three game weekend road trip.
The Flyers entered play on Friday just three points back of the third place Stampeders with two games in hand. In their four previous games against Swan, the Flyers had three wins and a shootout loss with three of the four games being decided by a single goal. The fifth meeting of the season was just as tight.
Swan Valley opened the scoring just 1:25 into the game when Stamps' Captain Leyson Coleman picked off a pass in the slot and beat Dorrin Luding through a crowd to give the home side a 1-0 lead. The Flyers got that one back later in the period on the power-play. With 3:40 left before intermission, Nathan Poolman rushed the puck down the left wing side and spotted Eric Fawkes in the slot. The puck didn't stay on Fawkes' stick for long as the second year Flyer snapped a quick shot into the top corner to pull Winkler even with his second of the season.
The Stampeders pushed back in the second and recorded nearly twice as many shots as the Flyers in the middle frame, but thanks in large part to goaltender Dorrin Luding and the rest of the Winkler defense, the game remained tied 1-1 heading into the third.
The final frame was the best of the night for Winkler as they took control of the hockey game. Just before the third period was four minutes old, Eric Fawkes and Garrett Szeremley connected with Nathan Poolman who scored his seventh of the season to put the Flyers in front for the first time in the game. The insurance marker came with just over two minutes left when Griffin Leonard's shot from the top of the right circle sailed over the shoulder of Stamps' netminder Mikael Foucher to give Winkler a 3-1 lead. Eric Fawkes earned his third point of the game on Leonard's 20th goal of the season. Former Stamps' Captain Jaden Townsend also assisted on the goal.
Dorrin Luding earned his 16th win of the season stopping 34 of the 35 shots that came his way. The Flyers outshot the Stampeders 37-35 overall, 18-9 alone in the third period. Winkler went 1-for-3 on the power-play and 2 for-2 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (22-10-4) will continue their weekend road trip with a pair of games against the OCN Blizzard on Saturday and Sunday. Puck drop at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre on Saturday is 7pm with Sunday's game scheduled for 6pm. You can catch both games live on Country 88.9FM with Matt Friesen's pregame show beginning five minutes before game time. The Flyers are 2-0 against the Blizzard this season.