Dorrin Luding stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced on Monday night, as the Winkler Flyers defeated the visiting Portage Terriers 3-1, picking up their 30th win of the season. Ian Tookenay, Carson Pawlenchuk and Griffin Leonard all found the back of the net to help the club rebound from a home ice loss the night before.
Just 24 hours after seeing their seven game home ice winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Virden Oil Capitals, the Flyers welcomed the Portage Terriers in a make up game from early October. Over the past number of years, the Flyers had not experienced a lot of success against the defending league champs, with their last win coming against Portage in January of 2018. The last win before that came in November of 2015 when Tristan Keck and Cam Whyte led the Orange and Black to a 5-3 victory.
Despite a 10-1-1 record over their last 12 games, scoring first had been an issue for the Flyers recently as they had given up the first goal of the game in 12 of their last 17 games. That would not be the case on Monday night. The Terriers took it to the Flyers in the opening 20 minutes, and thanks in large part to goaltender Dorrin Luding, the game remained scoreless through one period with Portage outshooting Winkler 14-4.
The Flyers found their form in the second period, and just 64 seconds into the middle frame Ian Tookenay’s shot from the right wing slot sailed over the shoulder of goaltender Noah Giesbrecht to put Winkler on the board first. Sulivan Shortreed and Jayden McCarthy assisted on Tookenay’s 11th of the season. With the assists, McCarthy had increased his point streak to 10 games, while Shortreed had extended his to four.
After taking their 1-0 lead into the second intermission, the Flyers started the third period off with a bang as Carson Pawlenchuk scored his ninth of the season just 11 seconds into the period to double Winkler’s lead to 2-0. With linemates Jackson Arpin and Everett Bestland drawing the assists, this was the second straight night that that line had connected for a goal.
Entering play with the MJHL’s best power-play, the Terriers cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 on the man-advantage with just under nine minutes to go in regulation. Despite that goal, the Flyers penalty kill was a big story in the game and would be relied upon heavily in the last few minutes of regulation.
After already killing off a 5-on-3 penalty earlier in the game, the Flyers went down two men again with just over two minutes left in regulation. The Terriers also pulled their goaltender and went looking for the equalizer during a 6-on-3 power-play.
With 40 seconds left on the clock, Drake Burgin knocked the puck away from a Terrier forward and up to Griffin Leonard who made no mistake in hitting the empty Portage net to give Winkler the insurance goal they were looking for. It was Leonard’s 24th goal of the season and the Flyers league leading ninth short-handed goal of the year.
Dorrin Luding was fantastic between the pipes for the Flyers as he stopped 32 shots in his 21st win of the season. The Terriers outshot the Flyers 33-30 overall. Winkler went 0-for-2 on the power-play and 5-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (30-11-5) will host the Neepawa Natives (9-33-4) on Tuesday night in their third game in a span of three days and fourth in the last five. The Flyers are 4-0 against Neepawa this season. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm with the video stream live on www.hockeytv.com. You can get your tickets in advance at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar or Petro-Canada Gas Bar or at the door prior to the game.
The Flyers remain in second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings, now three points ahead of the third place Terriers and four points behind the first place Steinbach Pistons.