Despite outshooting and out chancing Neepawa, the Winkler Flyers came up short in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Natives on Sunday night. It was a game of tough breaks for Winkler, as they definitely played good enough to win, but were forced to settle for their sixth loss of the season and third in their last four games.
After snapping their mini two game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Swan Valley Stampeders on Saturday, the Flyers welcome the Natives back to the Winkler Rec Complex for their fourth meeting of the season.
The Flyers got off to a good start, generating a number of good chances but failing to beat Neepawa starter Jake MacLennan with their early game pressure. Neepawa struck first a few minutes into the game when Austin Friesen’s point shot sailed past a screened Troy Martyniuk but Winkler would keep the pressure on, eventually outshooting the Natives 17-8 in the first 20 minutes. MacLennan was the story of the game for Neepawa, as the 19 year old goaltender frustrated Winkler shooters all game long with many game changing saves.
Neepawa capitalized on a Winkler turnover to double their lead to 2-0 before intermission and the Flyers were forced to play catch up once again. Sunday night’s affair was the fifth straight game that Winkler failed to score first.
The Flyers cut Neepawa’s lead to 2-1 just past the midway point of the middle period when Lucas Barker took the pass from CJ Corazzin and beat MacLennan though the legs for his first ever Manitoba Junior Hockey League goal. It was a sigh of relief for Barker who had been robbed on a number of glorious chances earlier in the hockey game.
The Natives would get that one back in the final minute, again taking advantage of a defensive miscue and Winkler trailed by two goals heading into the third despite leading 33-18 on the shot clock.
Winkler didn’t do themselves any favors in the third period, twice giving the Natives two minute 5-on-3 power-plays but the Orange and Black were able to keep Neepawa’s power-play at bay. In the final minutes, the Flyers pulled Martyniuk for the extra attacker and with 55 seconds left in regulation Will Black snapped home his fifth of the year and second in as many games to pull Winkler to within one.
With the goaltender still on the bench for the final push, the Flyers came close to scoring the equalizer but the puck didn’t bounce their way as Neepawa would hold on for the 3-2 victory.
Troy Martyniuk took the loss making 23 saves. Winkler outshot Neepawa 42-26 overall. The Flyers were 0-for-3 on the power-play and 6-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (15-6-0) will hit the road on Tuesday night for a big game against the Steinbach Pistons (16-3-0). Winkler trails Steinbach by two points for first place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings. Puck drop at the TG Smith Centre in Steinbach is 7:30pm with the pregame show live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com getting underway at 7:25pm.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – G JAKE MACLENNAN (NEEPAWA)
2ND STAR – F LUCAS BARKER (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – F BRAEDEN BINDA (NEEPAWA)