The Winkler Flyers 2014-15 regular season ended on a bit of a sour note on Tuesday night with a 2-1 loss in Selkirk. Tied at one late in regulation, the Steelers scored the game winner with just 25 seconds left on the clock, handing the Flyers their second loss in a row.
Before even traveling to Selkirk for their final game of the regular season, the Winkler Flyers already had their playoff spot wrapped up and were attempting to use this game as a positive stepping stone into the post season. With the game meaning nothing to Winkler in the standings, the club decided to give MVP Tristan Keck the night off to heal some bumps and bruises.
It was a back and forth first period with both clubs getting some good chances on goal. This game did mean something to the Steelers though, who needed a win and a Swan Valley loss in Neepawa in order to move into sixth place in the standings, avoiding a Survivor Series matchup with the OCN Blizzard.
Selkirk caught a break with 4:41 left in the first period when Justin Derlago’s shot got partially blocked by a Flyers’ defender and floated over the shoulder of Dasan Sydora and into the back of the net. The Steelers took their 1-0 lead into the first intermission while outshooting Winkler 14-7 through 20 minutes.
Winkler pushed back in the second and tied the game on the power-play. With just over eight and a half minutes remaining in the middle period, 16 year old Braden Billaney tipped in Nathan Karlowsky’s point shot, tying the game 1-1 with his first ever Manitoba Junior Hockey League goal. Patrice Wren assisted on the goal as the two team’s skated into the second intermission tied at a goal a piece.
As the third period rolled along, it looked very much like the game was headed to overtime. But with 25 seconds left in regulation, Justin Derlago’s centering pass from the right wing corner, kicked off the back of Sydora’s skate and over the goal line for the Steelers second fortunate bounce goal of the game.
Dasan Sydora finished the game with 31 saves as the Steelers outshot the Flyers 33-24. Winkler went 1-for-5 on the power-play and 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers wrapped up their regular season schedule with a (31-17-12) record which gave them fourth place in the 11 team league with 74 points. That is a vast improvement from a season ago when the Flyers finished in fifth place in the Addison Division with a record of (20-36-4) which gave them just 44 points.
Winkler will now prepare to host the Virden Oil Capitals in game one of their MJHL Quarter-Final Series on Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30pm at the Winkler Recreation Complex. A full release of the playoff dates as well as ticket information will be released on Wednesday.