Captain Nolan McGuire’s three goal effort helped lead the Winkler Flyers to a 5-4 win in Virden on Sunday night, as the Orange and Black finished their three game weekend road trip with three victories. It was a solid team effort from top to bottom as Winkler earned six points on the weekend to move into a share for top spot in the MJHL standings.
On the heals of two hard fought wins to start the weekend, the Flyers traveled to Virden for the first time this season to play an Oil Capitals team that entered play just two points behind them in the standings. The last time the two teams had met was in the Flyers Game Six victory in last season’s MJHL Quarterfinals.
It was a picture perfect start for Winkler as Will Blake found Nolan McGuire driving to the net just over a minute into the game and the Flyers found themselves with an early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately the rest of the period belonged to the home team as Virden took advantage of some defensive zone errors and a lucky bounce on the power-play to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Winkler rebounded in the second and started cutting into the Oil Caps’ lead just before the three minute mark of the period. Just after a Winkler power-play had expired, Garrett Kuklica let a shot go from the top of the circle that found the five-hole of goaltender Riley McVeigh to pull Winkler to within one. Weiland Parrish and Matt Christian drew the assists.
McGuire scored his second of the game later in the period, taking the puck out of the corner and finding the top half of the net tying the game 3-3. Not even two minutes after that, McGuire completed the hat-trick to give Winkler their first lead of the game with 8:32 left in the period. On the power-play, Will Blake held the puck on the left wing wall and snapped a hard pass to the far side of the crease, and a hard charging McGuire slammed home his team leading 12th goal of the season before crashing into the end boards. Mitch Dyck, who logged a lot of big minutes in the game due to a number of injuries to Winkler defensemen also picked up an assist on the goal.
With a renewed energy, the Flyers carried their one goal lead into the third. The Oil Capitals, who were the more rested of the two teams, pushed back to start the third period and tied the game with their second power-play goal of the night, 4:44 into the final frame.
The pace picked up after that with the game on the line and the two points up for grabs. The Flyers would got the goal they were looking for with 7:31 left in regulation and it came from Matt Christian. With a massive scramble happening in front of the Virden net, Christian picked up a loose puck and fired home his seventh goal of the year and team leading 21st point of the season, giving the Flyers a 5-4 lead.
Lost in all the offense was the play of goaltender Troy Martyniuk, who finished the game with 40 saves and kept his team in the game with a number of big stops in the first and third periods. After regaining the lead in the third, the Flyers would survive a late game push by the home team to win their third win of the weekend and tenth win in their last eleven games.
The Oil Caps outshot the Flyers 44-27 overall. Winkler went 1-for-4 on the power-play and 2-for-4 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (10-3-0) will now enjoy a few days of well earned rest before returning home to host the Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Friday, October 27th. The Flyers, OCN Blizzard and Steinbach Pistons are all tied for top spot in the MJHL Standings with 20 points.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F NOLAN McGUIRE (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – G TROY MARTYNIUK (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – F MATT CHRISTIAN (WINKLER)