The Winkler Flyers closed out the 2016-17 regular season with a 5-3 loss to the visiting Virden Oil Capitals. After clinching second place in the league standings the night before, the Flyers took on the team they will now play in the first round of the playoffs in a physical affair at the Winkler Rec Complex.
With their spot in the standings already secure, the Flyers played host to the Oil Caps who still were unsure of where they would end up. A win over Winkler and a Winnipeg loss to Dauphin would move the seventh place Oil Caps into sixth place in the league standings. However, if Winnipeg were to earn just a single point in their game against the Kings or if they were to lose to the Flyers, Virden would finish in seventh spot and earn a date with the Orange and Black in the first round of the MJHL playoffs.
It was a very physical battle right from the start with a total of 61 penalty minutes handed out in the first period alone. After failing to capitalize on an early 5-on-3 power-play, Winkler gave up the first goal of the game just before the nine minute mark of the opening period.
With 6:54 left before the break, Brody Moffatt shoveled in his second goal of the year to tie the game 1-1. Garrett Kuklica and Jacob Lacasse drew the assists. Virden would score again with just over a minute left in the period and took their 2-1 lead into the break.
The Oil Caps extended their lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal early in the second, but Winkler would fight back in the middle frame and tied the game with two goals of their own. Just past the halfway point of the period, Matt Christian scored on the power-play to cut Virden’s lead to 3-2. Lawson McDonald and Coltyn Bates assisted on Christian’s 19th of the year. Not even four minutes later, Bates then assisted on Ian Mackey’s 10th of the year to tie the game 3-3 before the end of the period.
Still with something to play for, the Oil Caps took the lead back with 6:26 gone in the third period and extended their lead to 5-3 with just over two minutes left in regulation.
However, with Winnipeg gaining a point in their shootout loss to Dauphin, the script was already written for the Flyers and Oil Caps to face off against each other in the first round of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoffs, causing the result of this game to be meaningless.
Cole Weaver took the loss in goal, making 26 saves on 29 shots for the Flyers. Winkler outshot Virden 36-29 overall. Winkler went 1-for-7 on the power-play and 4-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers finished the 2016-17 MJHL regular season with a 41-16-3 record, good for second place in the league standings. The schedule for the Flyers quarter-final series against the Oil Capitals will be announced in the coming days. All playoff games can be heard live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com. The video stream is also available on www.hockeytv.com.
More information regarding playoff schedules and ticket information will be announced early in the week.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F MACK HARDY (VIRDEN)
2ND STAR – F COLTYN BATES (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – F KIRKLAN LYCAR (VIRDEN)