The Winkler Flyers held on to eighth place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings with a 5-2 win over the visiting Neepawa Natives on Friday night. Jayden McCarthy led the way with a goal and two assists to help the Flyers earn their 20th win of the season.
After Tuesday’s game in Winnipeg was postponed due to weather, the Flyers welcomed the Neepawa Natives having not played since last Saturday night’s loss to the Swan Valley Stampeders. Winkler began the night in eighth place in the league standings, four points behind the idle Winnipeg Blues and two points ahead of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines who were taking on the Steelers in Selkirk.
The first period had a good back and forth pace to it with Neepawa drawing first blood on the power-play just before the halfway point of the period. Just over two minutes later, Jayden McCarthy made a good pass off the boards to Everett Bestland who skated down the right wing and picked the top corner, tying the game 1-1 with his fourth goal of the season.
With 4:22 left in the period, McCarthy spotted Eric Fawkes in the slot on the power-play and the 17 year old rookie potted his eighth of the season to give Winkler their first lead of the night. The Natives tied the game before the end of the frame and the two teams skated into the second period tied 2-2 with Winkler leading 14-11 on the shot clock.
The second period belonged to Winkler as they would go on to outshoot Neepawa 10-3 in the middle frame and would add two more goals. The first goal came just over four minutes into the period when call-up Matty Harrold snuck his shot through the five-hole of Natives’ starter Nik Anderson to move Winkler back in front 3-2. Harrold, who plays with the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy was called up to the Flyers due to the injuries to forwards Connor Beebe and Brody Moffatt. Noah Goertzen and Colton Harder assisted on Harrold’s first goal in his first ever game in the MJHL.
Not even two minutes later, Josh Kagan jumped on a loose puck in the Neepawa zone and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Anderson to extend Winkler’s lead to 4-2. The Flyers capped off their impressive middle period by killing off a five minute penalty to forward Marcel Berube and the club took their two goal lead into the third.
With a 13-1-2 record when leading after 40 minutes, the Flyers put the game away in the final frame thanks to another power-play goal. With two assists already in the game, Jayden McCarthy snapped a shot into the top corner of the Neepawa net with 7:58 left on the clock to make the score 5-2 for Winkler. Eric Fawkes and Garrett Kuklica both earned their second points of the game with assists on McCarthy’s 11th goal of the season.
Goaltender Riley Morgan made 22 saves in the win as the Flyers outshot Neepawa 41-24. Winkler went 2-for-6 on the power-play and 5-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers, who are now two points behind the seventh place Winnipeg Blues and two points ahead of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines with all three teams having 14 regular season games left, will host the Steinbach Pistons on Saturday night. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm. You can catch the game live on www.hockeytv.com. Winkler is now 6-1-1 in their last eight games at home.