Matt Christian scored his second goal of the game, 1:41 into overtime as the Winkler Flyers beat the first place Steinbach Pistons 3-2 on Tuesday night. The win also marked the 500th career Manitoba Junior Hockey League coaching victory for Flyers bench boss Ken Pearson.
Playing each other for the first time all season, the Flyers, who had lost three of their last four games all by one goal margins, were trying to snap the Pistons eight game winning streak. The Flyers defense, who ranked near the top of the league in goals against average had their work cut out for them against a Pistons team that had averaged over seven goals a game during their last eight games and led the league in goals scored.
Tuesday’s game at the TG Smith Centre in Steinbach was a fast paced and evenly played game, something you would expect from two of the top clubs in the MJHL. The Pistons looked to take the early jump on the Flyers in the first, with the bulk of the opening period played in the Winkler zone. Thanks in large part to goaltender Troy Martyniuk, the game went scoreless into the first intermission with Winkler being outshot 16-6.
The Flyers improved in the second and managed to do something that they hadn’t done in their last five games, they scored first. With 5:29 gone in the second, Captain Nolan McGuire found a loose puck beside the Piston net and scored his team leading 18th of the season. The unassisted marker also moved the Winkler native into a tie for first in the entire league in that category.
Steinbach hit back around five minutes later as Will Koop beat Martyniuk to tie the game 1-1. Still tied early in the third, Jack Johnson gave the home team their first lead of the night and Winkler now needed one to force overtime.
The Flyers would catch a break late in regulation when on a 5-on-3 power-play, Mitch Dyck’s one-time point shot clanged off the post and went right to Matt Christian who potted the game tying goal with just over five minutes to play in the period. Brady Pupp also assisted on Christian’s 11th of the year.
With nothing solved after 60 minutes, the Flyers went looking for the extra point in overtime. With 3-on-3 overtime opening up a lot of room, Coltyn Bates carried the puck through the neutral zone and drove it hard towards the net. His rebound fell to Christian who tucked in the game winner into the far side of the net, giving Winkler the extra point and the 3-2 victory.
Troy Martyniuk earned his league best 12th win of the season with another great night between the pipes. The Flyers were outshot by the Pistons 37-24. Winkler went 1-for-4 on the power-play and their top ranked penalty-kill was 4-for-4.
The Flyers (16-6-0) are now just one point back of the first place Pistons in the standings will host Steinbach in their next game on Friday night. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm. You can live stream the game on HockeyTV.com. Advance tickets are available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar, Petro Canada Gas Bar or at the door prior to the game.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F MATT CHRISTIAN (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – G TROY MARTYNIUK (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – G MATT RADOMSKY (STEINBACH)