Matt Christian’s first MJHL hat-trick helped the Winkler Flyers sink the visiting Waywayseecappo Wolverines 7-2 on Saturday night, as the Orange and Black picked up their 10th straight win at home. The win moved the Flyers into sole possession of second place in the standings with a 19-8-0 record.
After a disappointing loss on the road, Wednesday night in Portage, the Flyers returned to the friendly confines of the Winkler Recreation Complex. Entering play on Saturday, the Flyers had won their last nine home games and were playing a Waywayseecappo team that was still looking for their first road win of the year.
The Flyers got off to a quick start when Nolan McGuire banged in his own rebound to give Winkler a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the game. Will Blake assisted on McGuire’s 13th of the season. The Wolverines tied the game just minutes later with a short-handed goal by Dylan Tanner. It was the Flyers second short-handed goal allowed in as many games.
The Flyers would take the lead right back not even two minutes later when Mitch Dyck and Gino Lucia assisted on Scott Gall’s team leading 16th of the season. Winkler would add to their lead before the end of the opening period with a goal on the power-play. From behind the net, Matt Christian found Braden Billaney at the top of the crease and the second year forward scored his eighth of the season to give Winkler a 3-1 lead after the first 20 minute period.
Winkler went looking for more in the second period and would tack on three more in the middle frame. The first one came just before the eight minute mark of the period when Nolan McGuire sprung Gino Lucia on a breakaway and rookie standout sent a wrist shot just over the pad of goaltender McKenzie Chalmers to make the score 4-1 for Winkler with his 10th of the season. Just past the halfway point of the period, the Wolverines scored their second of the game on a 5-on-3 power-play and Winkler’s lead was cut to 4-2.
With just under six minutes left before the intermission, Matt Christian scored a power-play goal to restore Winkler’s three goal lead. Braden Billaney and Scott Gall drew the assists on the Grand Forks native’s seventh of the year. Christian scored again with 2:59 remaining in the period when his wrist shot sailed over the shoulder of Chalmers and the Flyers led 6-2 after 40 minutes.
The Flyers kept the pressure on in the third and would score one more time. With two goals already in the game, Matt Christian got the puck in the neutral zone, raced in on a breakaway and scored his third of the night to push Winkler in front 7-2 with 14 minutes left in regulation. That would end up being the final score as the Flyers increased their home ice winning streak to 10 games as they jumped over the OCN Blizzard into second place in the MJHL standings.
Goaltender Cole Weaver increased his record to 13-3-0 with another strong showing. He made 27 saves in the win as the Flyers outshot Wayway 55-29. Winkler went 2-for-5 on the power-play and 3-for-4 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (19-8-0) will host the Selkirk Steelers (15-8-1) to close out the month of November on Tuesday, November 29th. Winkler is 2-1 against the Steelers this season. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm with advance tickets available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F MATT CHRISTIAN (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – F SCOTT GALL (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – F GINO LUCIA (WINKLER)