The Winkler Flyers doubled up the Virden Oil Capitals 2-1 on Sunday night in the finale of their three game weekend road trip through Western Manitoba. Braden Billaney scored the game winner late in the second period as the Flyers picked up six of a possible six points on the road.
Playing their third game in three days after wins in Dauphin and Waywayseecappo, the Flyers clashed with the Virden Oil Capitals for the fourth time this season. The Oil Caps had won two of the previous three contests, with Winkler winning the most recent meeting, 4-0 in Winkler on November 20th.
The first period was very entertaining with back and forth rushes and some good physical body checks. Winkler hit the scoreboard first with a goal by Jacob Lacasse late in the first. After taking the pass near the Virden line from Lacasse, Matt Christian carried it around the net and found Lacasse at the top of the crease. The rookie forward then managed to lift the puck over top of the Virden goaltender to put the Flyers in front 1-0 with 4:46 left in the first. Winkler took their one goal lead into the first intermission while outshooting the Oil Caps 16-5 in the first 20 minutes.
Virden battled back in the middle frame and tied the game at one, 12:05 into the period when Mack Hardy slid behind Winkler’s defense and beat Flyers’ goaltender Cole Weaver on the ensuing breakaway. Just four and a half minutes later, Winkler restored their lead. Holding onto the puck in the left wing corner, Will Blake sent a perfect pass to the back door to Braden Billaney who was there to bang home his eighth goal of the season. It was Billaney’s 10th point in his last seven games. Connor Hamonic also assisted on the goal.
That goal would prove to be the game winner as Winkler would shut down the Oil Caps in the third, outshooting the home team 18-6 in the final 20 minutes and skating away with the 2-1 win.
Cole Weaver had another solid game between the pipes for the Flyers earning his 15th win of the season. Winkler outshot Virden 44-19 overall. During the course of the weekend, the Flyers held their opponent to 63 shots on goal, 30 of them Saturday night in Wayway. The Flyers were 0-for-2 on the power-play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (22-9-0) will host the Steinbach Pistons (24-4-1) on Wednesday night (7:30pm @ Winkler Rec Complex) in a battle of the top two teams in the MJHL standings. The first place Pistons lead the second place Flyers by five points in the standings. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar.
NOTE: Flyers captain Connor Hamonic played his 200th regular season game on Sunday night. Defenseman Tyler Jubenvill missed Sunday’s game due to the Canada West Evaluation Camp for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F BRADEN BILLANEY (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – F JACOB LACASSE (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – D GARRETT KUKLICA (WINKLER)