The Winkler Flyers dropped a 4-2 decision in Neepawa on Friday night in their first game of the MJHL regular season. Winkler played well in spurts, but failed to keep the momentum they needed due to a number of untimely penalties.
Trying to keep the ball rolling after a 6-0 pre-season, the Flyers travelled to the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa to play the first game of the season that mattered. The Flyers had a good first few minutes with some steady pressure around the Natives’ net, but that was quickly derailed by some early penalties.
Neepawa scored first before the game was six minutes old, when Griffin Chwaliboga found the back of the net just as a Winkler penalty had expired. The Flyers rebounded with a goal of their a few minutes later, tying the game 1-1. Playing short-handed again, the pass came from rookie defenseman CJ Corazzin who found Nolan McGuire up near the Neepawa blueline. Cutting from right to left, the Winkler Captain flipped a back handed shot past the Natives’ goaltender, pulling Winkler even on the scoreboard.
Unfortunately, the Flyers failed to build off that goal and would send a few more men to the penalty box. During one of the brief moments of 5-on-5 in the period, Neepawa would regain their one goal lead before intermission.
Winkler played much better in the middle frame and tied the game again thanks to a beautiful play from Matt Christian and Coltyn Bates. After taking the pass from Mitch Dyck, Christian carried the puck down the right side, slung it back door to Bates who fired it top corner on goaltender Even Robert to even the score 2-2 with 6:18 gone in the period. Despite four power-plays in the second, Winkler could not find the next goal to put them in front.
The Natives scored what turned out to be the game winner with just over eight minutes left in regulation and capped it off with an empty net goal in the dying seconds to skate away with a 4-2 victory in their regular season home opener.
Troy Martyniuk had a strong game between the pipes for Winkler, stopping 32 of the 35 shots he faced. Winkler would be outshot 36-26 in the game. The Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power-play and 7-for-7 on the penalty-kill.
Winkler (0-1-0) will now look to return the favor on Saturday night when they host the Natives (1-0-0) in their regular season home opener. Come early for a special pre-game, player introduction ceremony. Advance tickets are available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar or Petro Canada Gas Bar. You can watch the game live on www.hockeytv.com.
GRANDEUR HOUSING HARDEST WORKING FLYER OF THE GAME: D Mitch Dyck
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F JUSTIN METCALF (NEEPAWA)
2ND STAR – F JORDAN MARTIN (NEEPAWA)
3RD STAR – G TROY MARTYNIUK (WINKLER)