Rookie forward Eric Fawkes picked a great time to score his first ever Manitoba Junior Hockey League goal on Friday night, as the Winkler Flyers slid past the OCN Blizzard 1-0 in overtime. Blizzard netminder Noah Giesbrecht held off the Flyers offense right to the end, stopping 45 of the 46 shots that came his way but Fawkes’ goal with 57 seconds left in overtime would be all the offense Winkler would need.
Coming into the game having won three of their last five games including their last two in a row, the Winkler Flyers welcomed an OCN club that had won just once in their first ten games of the season. Despite the slow start, the Blizzard had been getting solid goaltending from Noah Giesbrecht which was on full display Friday night in Winkler.
The Flyers came out hard in the first period and outshot OCN 11-7 in the first 20 minutes, but the game went into the second tied at zero. Winkler pushed even harder in the second and despite firing 17 more shots on net, still the game was tied 0-0.
Even in the third period, with the help of four power-plays including a lengthy 5-on-3, the Flyers could not solve Giesbrecht and the game went into overtime with no goals yet on the board.
Finally, in the final minute of overtime after the Flyers had spent nearly the entire period in the Blizzard zone, the game would end thanks to Flyers forward Eric Fawkes. After picking up a loose puck in the OCN zone, Fawkes carried it back up to the Blizzard blueline, quickly curled it back towards the front of the net and beat Giesbrecht clean with a wrist shot over the blocker to notch his first goal as a Flyer and give Winkler the 1-0 win.
Over on the other side of the ice, Winkler goaltender Aaron Brunn stopped all 25 shots he faced while earning the shut-out. It was Brunn’s first start since being injured in a game vs Swan Valley on October 5th. The Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power-play and 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (6-5-1) will host the Winnipeg Blues (8-3-0) in their next game on Sunday night (7:30pm). The Flyers lost 3-2 in overtime to the Blues in their first meeting of the season back in September. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Petro-Canada Gas Bar or Winkler Coop Gas Bar or at the door prior to the game.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Flyers will honour their players families and billet families during a special pre-game ceremony.
The Winkler Flyers Skills Competition and Skate with the Flyers will take place Saturday from 2-4pm at the Winkler Rec Complex. It is free of charge.