Neepawa goaltender Alex Henry made 53 saves as the Natives edged the Flyers 5-4 in a shootout, Friday night at the Yellowhead Centre. Despite generating more than enough chances to win the game, the Flyers failed to find the back of the net when they needed to the most, suffering their fourth shootout loss of the season.
Looking to snap a two game losing streak, the Orange and Black traveled to the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa for their first meeting of the season against the Natives. Winkler had defeated Neepawa twice during preseason. Neepawa had lost their last five games coming into Friday’s contest.
The Flyers played great right off the bat and generated a lot of pressure on the Neepawa net. Right after a great Flyers’ shift inside the Neepawa zone, Kyle McDonald gave Neepawa the lead, beating Adam Vander Linden off the rush with 3:52 to play in the opening period. Just under two minutes later, Drake Lindsay gave the Natives a 2-0 lead when he fired a shot off the tip of Vander Linden’s glove and in.
Trailing by two goals after 20 minutes, the Flyers had great jump to start the second. Just under two minutes into the period, Scott Gall cut Neepawa’s lead to 2-1 with his ninth of the season and just 39 seconds later, Tristan Keck went bar down for his 21st of the season, tying the game at two, just 2:30 into the period.
The Flyers kept their foot on the pedal and had numerous chances to take the lead, only to have those chances snuffed out by Neepawa’s goaltender. The Natives went back in front 3-2 with a power-play goal at the 13:17 mark of the period.
Just 4:11 to play before the break, Zach Heisinger attempted to pass the puck across the goal mouth to Josh Cook, only to see it deflect off a Neepawa defender and into the net, tying the game at three. Connor Hamonic earned his second assist of the night on Heisinger’s fourth of the season.
The two team’s skated in to the second intermission tied 3-3 with the Flyers outshooting the home side 31-17 through 40 minutes.
Winkler would take the lead for the first time just 1:25 into the third period when Tristan Keck snuck in his second of the game between the near post of Henry’s pad. Josh Cook and Shawn Pachet assisted on Keck’s league leading 22nd goal of the season and Winkler was in front 4-3.
The Flyers found themselves in some questionable penalty trouble late in the period, and it cost them when Steven Phillips scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal with just 4:24 left in regulation, tying the game 4-4.
With Henry and the Neepawa defense holding off the Flyers late game attack, the game went to overtime and eventually a shootout, with Winkler failing to capitalize on their numerous chances to win the game at the end.
The shootout was short and sweet as Lawson McDonald, Tristan Keck and Patrice Wren all failed the beat Henry with their attempts and Riley Hillis beat Adam Vander Linden with the second Neepawa attempt and the Natives would take the extra point and the 5-4 victory.
Vander Linden (4-4-3) took the loss making 25 saves through 65 minutes. Neepawa goaltender Alex Henry was the story as he made 53 saves in the win as Winkler outshot the Natives 57-29 overall. The Flyers went 1-for 6 on the power-play and 4-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (13-5-5) remain in second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and will face the Selkirk Steelers (7-8-1), Sunday night at home. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm. The Flyers beat Selkirk 2-1 in overtime in their first meeting of the season, September 23rd at home.