Despite a gritty effort on Friday night, the Winkler Flyers dropped a 3-2 decision to the Steinbach Pistons to officially kick off their 2019-2020 regular season schedule. Dorrin Luding was sharp for the Flyers making 43 saves, while Alex Cattani had a goal and a helper in a losing cause.


Starting their regular season on the road, the rebuilt Flyers came out with a good effort against one of the top teams in the MJHL. The Pistons got on the board first 5:37 into the game and just over a minute later had doubled their lead to 2-0.


The second period was much better for the Flyers as the club tightened up defensively and started to push the puck in the right direction. Minutes after having a power-play goal waved off, rookie forward Alex Cattani carried the puck up near the Steinbach blueline and sent a shot through the screen and into the net to cut the Pistons’ lead to 2-1. Justin Svenson and Noah Goertzen drew the assists on the goal that came 4:43 into the period.


It took the Flyers’ one minute and nine seconds to get another one and this one came from a nice passing play between defense partners Drake Burgin and Kyle Lamoureux. After picking up the puck at the offensive blueline after a faceoff win by Cattani, Burgin skated it down the right wing and spotted Lamoureux on the left side. Holding onto it for just a second, his shot found the middle of the net to pull Winkler even 2-2.


Both goaltenders kept the game tied through two periods and allowed the game to be decided in the third. The intensity picked up in the final period with the two clubs trading power-play opportunities. After a series of successful penalty killing by the Flyers, the Pistons jumped on a loose puck in front of the Winkler net and scored what would turn out to be the game winner with 6:34 left on the clock.


Despite some good chances with the goaltender on the bench in the end, the Flyers would come up short, losing their season opener 3-2.


Dorrin Luding was fantastic on Friday night, making a number of highlight reel saves. He ended the game with 43 stops as the Pistons outshot the Flyers 46-29 overall. Both teams were 0-for-5 on the power-play.


The Flyers and Pistons will go at it again on Saturday night, this time in Winkler. The home opener player introductions and ceremonial faceoff will begin at 7:30pm with puck drop to follow. You can pick up your advance tickets at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar, Petro Canada Gas Bar or at the door prior to the game. You can watch the game live with a subscription to www.hockeytv.com