Defenseman Tyler Lindstrom scored the game winner, two minutes into overtime as the Winkler Flyers beat the visiting Neepawa Natives 4-3 on Sunday night. Picking up their eighth win in their last ten games, the Flyers continued to keep pace in the very tight Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings.
Less than 24 hours after a solid effort in Steinbach, the Flyers returned home to face the Neepawa Natives for the fourth time this season. With three wins in three tries against Neepawa, Winkler was looking for their 13th win in their last 14 games at home.
Winkler opened the scoring, 8:51 into the game when Jeff Michiels, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, took a pass from Brayden Cullum and fired a shot over the left pad of goaltender Tyler Gutenberg for his third goal in his last four games and seventh overall this season.
The Flyers doubled their lead to 2-0 not even two minutes later when Scott Gall flipped in his team leading 21st goal of the year over a sprawling Neepawa goaltender. Tanner Lewis and Braden Billaney assisted on the goal. Lewis increased his point streak to five games with his assist.
However, just 10 seconds later, Neepawa forward Josh Sielsky picked up a loose puck in the Winkler zone and beat Troy Martyniuk through the five-hole to cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1. The wild first period continued when the Flyers scored again just over a minute after that to increase their lead to 3-1. This time it was Nolan McGuire knocking down a pass at the Neepawa blue line and snapping home his 15th of the season. All four goals, three by Winkler and one by Neepawa came in a span of three minutes and eleven seconds.
Neepawa would add another one with just four seconds left in the first period to cut Winkler’s lead to 3-2 heading into the break.
With Winkler still leading 3-2 after 40 minutes, the Flyers looked to put some distance between themselves and the Natives in the third. The Flyers inability to capitalize on their changes and put the game away came to haunt them late in the third when Neepawa tied the game at three with just 5:04 left in regulation. It was former Flyer Braeden Binda who snuck the puck between Martyniuk’s pad and the post to pull the Natives’ even.
For the second straight night, the Flyers were headed to overtime tied 3-3. But unlike Saturday night’s loss in Steinbach, Sunday’s game would end on a happy note. With exactly two minutes gone in overtime, Defenseman Tyler Lindstrom carried the puck down the right wing on a two-on-one with Scott Gall skating beside him. Instead of passing it over, Lindstrom took a shot that sailed past the glove of Gutenberg to give the Flyers’ the 4-3 victory. Tanner Lewis and Scott Gall both recorded their second points of the game with the assists on Lindstrom’s second goal of the year.
Troy Martyniuk improved to 3-0 as a Flyer with a 21 save performance in goal. Winkler outshot Neepawa 34-25. Winkler went 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill and did not receive a power-play.
The Flyers (27-10-1) will enjoy the week off as they prepare for two games in Waywayseecappo next weekend (January 13th and 14th). Both games can be heard live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com. The third place Flyers are one point back of the second place Selkirk Steelers with a game in hand, and eight points behind the first place Steinbach Pistons. Winkler also moves four points ahead of the fourth place Portage Terriers.
NOTE: The Canadian Junior Hockey League Trade Deadline is Tuesday, January 10th. Stay tuned to www.winklerflyers.com and the Flyers’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for any up to date information.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Stars – D Tyler Lindstrom (Winkler)
2nd Star – F Scott Gall (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Tanner Lewis (Winkler)