After a sluggish first period, the Winkler Flyers scored six unanswered goals in a 7-2 win over the visiting Neepawa Natives. Tristan Keck recorded his second career hat-trick, helping the Flyers erase a 2-1 first period deficit while earning their 24th win of the season.
Playing their third of three straight home games, the Flyers welcomed the Neepawa Natives for their final game at home in the month of January. Winkler came into the game having earned at least a point in their last four games, which included an 8-3 win over Neepawa, January 2nd in Winkler in their last meeting.
The Flyers got off to a quick start as Scott Gall scored his first of the game just 1:18 into the first period. Lawson McDonald and Evan Last drew the assists on the Morden native’s 14th goal of the season. However, the period would go downhill for Winkler moments later.
Just over three minutes after the Flyers took a 1-0 lead, former Flyer Shawn Pachet tied the game for Neepawa. The Natives kept swarming the Flyers net, only to have goaltender Dasan Sydora turn them aside for the bulk of the period. Neepawa, who had a shot lead of 18-6 at one point in the period took a 2-1 lead with 4:23 left in the first and took their one goal advantage into the intermission.
The second period went a lot smoother for Winkler as they started to take control of the game. Winkler tied the game 2-2 with 8:21 left on the clock thanks to Tristan Keck’s 34th of the season. Not even a minute later, Scott Gall drove through the Neepawa defense, made a nice move around goaltender Alex Henry, and tucked home his second of the game. Evan Last drew his second assist of the game and the Flyers had a 3-2 lead.
Tristan Keck would score his second of the game with 1:08 to play before the break and Winkler took a 4-2 lead into the intermission. After being out-played and out-shot in the first period, the Flyers outshot Neepawa 19-6 in the second and had a two goal lead heading into the third.
Just over seven and a half minutes into the third period, Evan Last and Scott Gall assisted on Kayden Jarvis’ ninth of the season and the Flyers lead was up to 5-2. Just 95 seconds later, Jordan Wall scored his second goal of the year when his point shot found the back of the net and Winkler had a four goal lead.
With 14 seconds left in regulation, Tristan Keck hit the back of the net for the third time in the game and Winkler’s lead had grown to 7-2. Scott Gall and Tanner Hepp assisted on Keck’s league leading 36th goal of the season.
Dasan Sydora (20-5-3) made 32 saves while earning his 20th win of the season. Winkler out-shot Neepawa 35-34 overall, 24-15 in the second and third periods. Winkler went 0-for-3 on the power-play and 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill.
Tristan Keck (3 goals – 1 assist), Scott Gall (2 goals – 2 assists), Evan Last (3 assists) and Connor Hamonic (2 assists) all recorded multi-point games. Winkler played much of the game with just 15 skaters after Bryce Enns left with an injury after taking a check in the opening minutes of the game. Linemate Brett Klassen was then ejected after the subsequent fighting penalty. Assistant Captain Reid Burak was a late scratch due to illness.
The Flyers (24-10-7) remain in second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League after the win as they now begin a stretch of six straight road games. Winkler will travel to Virden for the first time this season on Friday, January 9th (7:30pm). You can listen to Friday’s game live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com with Matt Friesen’s pregame show at 7:25pm.