The Winkler Flyers earned their 40th win of the season on Tuesday night, with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Winnipeg Blues at the MTS Iceplex. Tristan Keck scored twice and Nathan Warren stood tall in goal to give the Flyers nine straight victories away from home.
After a disappointing shootout loss to the visiting Selkirk Steelers on Sunday, the Flyers made their way to the MTS Iceplex for their sixth and final game of the season against the Blues. The Flyers had five wins in their previous five games against Winnipeg, with both games played at the Iceplex being decided in a shootout.
Winkler took the early lead in the game when Tristan Keck skated down the right wing and found the far side of the net for his first of the game. Lawson McDonald and Kayden Jarvis assisted on Keck’s fifth goal in his last four games.
The Flyers would add their second goal with four minutes left in the period. Connor Hamonic and Jordan Wall assisted on Kurt Sonne’s eighth of the year on the power-play. Just 34 seconds later, Winnipeg would get one of those back to cut Winkler’s lead to 2-1.
Early in the second period, the Flyers restored their two goal cushion thanks to Nolan McGuire’s unassisted goal just 2:09 into the period. The Blues would continue to stay within striking distance thanks to their second goal with just under five minutes left in the period.
Before the end of the second, the Flyers went back on the power-play and would once again regain their two goal lead. After Connor Hamonic and Jordan Wall played the puck back and forth along the Winnipeg blueline, Tristan Keck took over at the top of the right faceoff circle and blasted home his second of the game to put his team ahead by a 4-2 score. It was the Morris native’s 37th goal of the season.
Trailing by two goals entering the third, the Blues went to work in the final period of regulation. Nearly nine minutes into the third, Winnipeg scored to cut Winkler’s lead to 4-3 which would set up a wild end to the third period.
Last week, when the Flyers and Blues last met in Winnipeg, Scott Gall scored for Winkler with the extra attacker on the ice in the final minute to force overtime. Winkler would go on to win that game in a shootout.
This time it was the Blues who would pull their goaltender in favor of the extra attacker, and once again the gamble paid off. With the Flyers on their heals in the final minute, Winnipeg leading scorer Kamerin Nault would lift a shot over top of Nathan Warren with just 48 seconds left in regulation tying the game 4-4.
After overtime solved nothing, the Flyers were headed to a shootout for the third time in their last four games. After Warren stopped the first Winnipeg shooter, Nolan McGuire went in and scored for Winkler to give the Flyers the edge after round one.
Both second round shooters failed to hit the mark which allowed Warren to win the game if he could stop the third shooter for the Blues. And Warren did just that, capping off a very impressive game between the pipes for Winkler. The 20 year old made many highlight reel saves in the game, increasing his record to 13-4-2.
The Blues outshot the Flyers 36-30. Winkler’s special teams were a big part of the game with the power-play going 2-for-6 and the penalty-kill a perfect 6-for-6. Tuesday’s game marked the end of a tough stretch of five games in eight days for the Flyers, who went 4-0-1 in those five games.
The Flyers (40-12-4) will host the Virden Oil Capitals on Friday, February 26th in the first of two straight against the Oil Caps. The two teams will play the following night in Virden. Puck drop on Friday at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm. Advance tickets are available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar. The third place Flyers trail the second place Steinbach Pistons by just two points with four games left in the regular season. The Pistons do have a game in hand on Winkler.
Don’t forget the Winkler Auto Dealers’ Skate with the Flyers will take place following Friday’s game. Come onto the ice after the game to meet the players and get your team poster signed by the team.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – G Nathan Warren (Winkler)
2nd Star – D Connor Hamonic (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Tristan Keck (Winkler)
Winkler Canvas Hardest Working Flyer
D Nathan Karlowsky