The Winkler Flyers picked up a pivotal win in Game Four of the MJHL Semi-Final, defeating the visiting Steinbach Pistons 3-1. Kurt Sonne scored the game winner, 3:38 into the third period as the Flyers took a three games to one lead in the best of seven series.
After losing game three in Steinbach three nights earlier, the Flyers returned home with a chance to take a strangle hold lead in the series. Entering play on Friday, the Flyers were 4-0 at home during the post season and had lost just three games at home since the Christmas Break.
It was a physical start and it was evident early on that the game meant a lot to both parties involved. Like they had done in seven of their previous eight playoff games, the Flyers scored first. With 10:02 left in period number one, Tristan Keck took a pass from Mitch Dyck in the neutral zone and skated down the left wing side and into the Pistons’ zone. Like he had done numerous times before, the Morris native fired a shot mid-stride right past goaltender Roman Bengert to give Winkler a 1-0 lead with his seventh of the playoffs.
Flyers netminder Nathan Warren kept his team in front 1-0 as the game went into the second intermission with the Pistons outshooting the Flyers 24-19 through 40 minutes.
Early in the third period, the Flyers picked up a big insurance goal which proved to be the game winner. Just before the four minute mark of the period, Jordy Williamson nudged the puck into the Steinbach zone and onto the stick of Kurt Sonne. After picking up the puck, Sonne went straight to the net and rifled a shot just under the cross bar to double Winkler’s lead to 2-0.
Just past the midway point of the third, the Pistons cut Winkler’s lead to 2-1 with a goal on the power-play. With their lead now cut in half, the Flyers would rely on Nathan Warren and their defense to hold the Pistons off the score board the rest of the way.
With the Steinbach goaltender on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice in the final minute, Nolan McGuire outmuscled a Pistons’ defender for a loose puck and scored with 54 seconds left in regulation to give the Flyers a two goal lead and an eventual 3-1 win.
Nathan Warren was fantastic once again between the pipes for Winkler, kicking aside 35 of the 36 shots he faced. The Prince George, B.C. native continues to lead the league with a 1.68 GAA in the playoffs and a .955 save percentage, while facing the most shots of any other goaltender in the post-season (334). The Pistons outshot Winkler 36-30 overall. Winkler went 0-for-2 on the power-play and 2-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
Now leading the series 3-1, the Flyers will have a chance to book their ticket to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Final with a win in Game Five, Sunday night in Steinbach. Puck drop at the TG Smith Centre is 7:30pm with Matt Friesen’s pregame show live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com getting underway at 7:25pm.
To purchase tickets online for Game Five in Steinbach CLICK HERE.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – F Tristan Keck (Winkler)
2nd Star – F Kurt Sonne (Winkler)
3rd Star – G Nathan Warren (Winkler)
Winkler Canvas Hardest Working Flyer
F Nolan McGuire