The Winkler Flyers journey to the Turnbull Cup begins on Wednesday, March 11th, when they host the Virden Oil Capitals in game one of their best of seven Manitoba Junior Hockey League Quarter-Final series. After a rebound season in 2014-15, the Flyers are poised for a successful playoff run in their 35th season in the MJHL.
After missing the playoffs during their inaugural season in 1980-81, the Winkler Flyers have now made the playoffs for 34 straight seasons. With a (31-17-12) record this season, the Flyers clinched fourth place in the MJHL Standings in the final week of the regular season, giving them home ice advantage in their series against the fifth place Virden Oil Capitals (30-20-10).
Coming off a disappointing season in 2013-2014 where the Flyers finished in fifth place in the Addison Division with a (20-36-4) record, Winkler had quite the turn-around season in 2014-2015. The Flyers added 11 more wins, allowed 42 fewer goals and scored 31 more times than the year previous. With a veteran group of players on the roster, the Flyers know what it takes to make a long run in the post season.
Captain Patrice Wren has won the RBC Cup (National Junior A Championship) before with the Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL), goaltenders Dasan Sydora and Devon Fordyce have also won national titles at the Junior A and AAA Midget levels. The Flyers also possess the Manitoba Junior Hockey League MVP in Tristan Keck as well as many other players who are having breakout seasons in Junior hockey.
This season, the Flyers finished their six game regular season series against Virden with a (2-3-1) record. After dropping the first three meetings, Winkler lost the fourth meeting in overtime and won the final two contests by a combined score of 8-1. Winkler has been dominant on home ice this season with a (18-7-5) record at the Winkler Recreation Complex. Winkler is also a team that has a lot of success when playing with a lead. The Flyers are (23-3-3) when they score the first goal of the game and are (24-0-4) when they take a lead into the third period.
The Oil Capitals are in their third season in Virden after moving from Winnipeg (Saints) following the 2011-2012 season. Winkler is (5-2) at Tundra Oil and Gas Place over the past three seasons. After missing the playoffs during their first year in Virden, the Oil Caps advanced to the Sherwood Division final last year, losing to the Dauphin Kings in four games.
Winkler has not had much playoff success over the past few years, losing in the first round to the Winnipeg Blues the last three seasons. The last time the Flyers made it out of the first round of the playoffs was in the 2010-11 season when they beat the Waywayseecappo Wolverines in the Addison Division Semi-Final, before losing to the Selkirk Steelers in the division final.
These two franchises have met before in the playoffs. The last time that happened was back in 2007-2008 when the Flyers fell to the Winnipeg Saints in the Addison Division Final.
Here is the complete Round One schedule:
Game One: Wednesday, March 11th @ Winkler (7:30pm)
Game Two: Friday, March 13th @ Virden (7:30pm)
Game Three: Sunday, March 15th @ Winkler (7:30pm)
Game Four: Tuesday, March 17th @ Virden (7:30pm)
Game Five: Thursday, March 19th @ Winkler (7:30pm) * if necessary
Game Six: Saturday, March 21st @ Virden (7:30pm) * if necessary
Game Seven: Sunday, March 22nd @ Winkler (7:30pm) * if necessary
Advance tickets and playoff passes are available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar. Playoff Passes (All 2015 Playoff Home Games) – $50, Individual Adult Tickets – $11, Individual Student Tickets – $8, and Individual Child Tickets – $5. Children ages five and under at free.
All Flyers playoff games can be heard live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyoneline.com with the pregame show beginning at 7:25pm. There will be a special 30 minute pregame show prior to game one on Wednesday, starting at 7pm.