The Winkler Flyers picked up two big points on Saturday night in a 4-3, come from behind win in Winnipeg. Trailing late in regulation, Cam Whyte tied the game in the final minute and Zak Hicks won the game in a shootout to move Winkler closer to securing home ice advantage in the playoffs.
Entering the final weekend of the 2014-2015 regular season, the Flyers traveled to Winnipeg looking to maintain their fourth place spot in the standings with just three games left before the post-season. The Flyers were also looking for their first road win against the Blues in quite some time, having not won a road game in Winnipeg against the Blues since March 17th of 2013.
Winnipeg scored the first goal of the game just over eight minutes into the opening period when Kamerin Nault came in late, found a loose puck on top of the crease and beat Dasan Sydora, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead. Despite being out-shot in the first period, Winkler would tie the game before the break.
With 1:31 left in the first, Patrice Wren drove the puck into the left wing corner and threw it in front for Tristan Keck. After his shot failed to reach the net, Connor Hamonic came in from the point and beat Blues goaltender Scott Parsons blocker side, tying the game with his fifth goal of the season.
Midway through the second, Brett Brooks scored a power-play goal for the Blues and Winnipeg was back in front 2-1. Just over three minutes later, Brooks scored again and the Blues had a 3-1 lead with 6:28 to play in the frame.
The Flyers managed to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 3-2 before the end of the period. On the power-play with 3:40 left on the clock, Tristan Keck took a pass at the top of the right wing circle and picked the far corner for his league best 43rd goal of the season. Zak Hicks and Cam Whyte drew the assists.
Dasan Sydora was having another strong game in goal for Winkler as the Flyers went into the second intermission down by just a goal while being outshot 31-14 through 40 minutes.
Winkler came out in the third period with more urgency and started to push the pace. The Flyers had many chances to score the equalizer but were still down by one with just minutes left on the clock. With exactly one minute to play in the third, the Flyers went on the power-play. With Dasan Sydora on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, the Flyers had a 6-on-4 man advantage. Patrice Wren won the faceoff in the Blues zone right to Zak Hicks, who skated the puck along the blueline before letting a shot go towards the Winnipeg net. Cam Whyte managed to get a stick on Hicks’ shot, deflecting it past Parsons, tying the game 3-3 with just 49 seconds left in regulation. It was the Virden natives’ 23rd of the season.
The Flyers were happy to be rewarded for their efforts in the third period as they outshot Winnipeg 15-3 in the third and had forced overtime after trailing by as much as 3-1 at one point in the game. After overtime solved nothing, the game was headed to a shoot-out. The Flyers would have rather had the game finish in overtime as the shootout had been less than kind to them this season. With Winkler winning just one of their previous 10 shootout decisions, the odds were not in their favour.
Jackson Keane went first for the Blues and was stopped by Sydora. Bryce Enns was also stopped by the goaltender on his attempt. After Brett Brooks and Brett Klassen both failed to score in round two, the competition went scoreless into round three. Blues captain Taeron Lewis rang his shot off the post, allowing Zak Hicks the chance to win it.
The only shootout game the Flyers had won this season was back on December 12th against the Dauphin Kings in Winkler. Zak Hicks, oddly enough, scored the shootout winner that night. This time in Winnipeg, Hicks let a wrist shot go from between the circles, beating Parsons blocker side and giving the Flyers a 4-3 victory.
Dasan Sydora picked up his 26th win of the season thanks to his 33 save performance through 65 minutes and perfect performance in the shootout. The Blues outshot the Flyers 36-30 overall. Winkler went 2-for-6 on the power-play and 0-for-1 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (31-15-12) will host the Swan Valley Stampeders (26-26-6) on Sunday, March 1st in their final regular season home game. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 5pm. The fourth place Flyers still lead the fifth place Virden Oil Capitals by four points in the standings. The Flyers need just one point in their final two games to secure home ice advantage in their upcoming playoff series against Virden.
The Flyers will be handing out their individual team awards during a pre-game ceremony and will also be drawing the 300 Club Cash Lottery winners throughout the game. The Winkler Auto Dealers “Skate with the Flyers” event will also happen after the game. Bring your skates and skate with the Flyers and get their autographs on your FREE team poster which will be available at the game.