Ryan Larochelle made 45 saves as the Winkler Flyers kicked off the 2015-2016 regular season with a 5-2 win in Steinbach. Scott Gall and Zak Hicks both had two goals and an assist to help the Orange and Black get their 35th Anniversary season started off right.
Coming off an impressive (5-3) exhibition campaign, the Flyers made their way to Steinbach to face the Pistons in their first game of the season.
Winkler was flying right off the bat and took the game to the Pistons in the opening minutes of the first period. The Flyers took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal, 6:23 into the hockey game. After some solid pressure in the Steinbach zone, Scott Gall found defenseman Zak Hicks in the high slot and he beat goaltender Jeremy Wik over the shoulder for the game’s first goal. Lawson McDonald also drew an assist.
Hicks scored again with 4:09 left in the frame, scoring off a nice pass from Coltyn Bates in the corner putting the Flyers ahead 2-0. Nico Labossiere also assisted on the goal. Winkler took their two goal advantage into the first intermission despite being outshot 19-9 through 20 minutes.
Steinbach pushed back in the second period and cut Winkler’s lead to 2-1 with 4:40 remaining in the period. Although the Flyers were leading by a goal after two periods, Ryan Larochelle was keeping his team in the game with 28 saves through 40 minutes of play.
The Flyers had a real tough test to start the third period with a four minute double minor penalty to Kayden Jarvis followed soon after by a checking from behind penalty to Nico Labossiere and the Flyers one goal lead was in jeopardy.
For the first seven minutes of the third period, Larochelle and the Flyers held the Pistons power-play at bay and the momentum started to swing Winkler’s. Just past the eight minute mark of the period, Kayden Jarvis hit Tristan Keck with a breakaway pass at the Steinbach blueline and the reigning MVP tucked home the Flyers third goal of the game.
Just over a minute later, Scott Gall scored an outstanding unassisted breakaway goal to give Winkler some breathing room and a 4-1 lead. With just over a minute left in regulation, Zak Hicks and Thomas Mansbridge assisted on Gall’s second of the game on the power-play, extending Winkler’s lead to 5-1.
The Pistons added one more with 31 second left, but by then the Flyers were already well on their way to starting the season 1-0.
Ryan Larochelle was outstanding in his Flyers debut between the pipes. The 19 year old, Edmonton native recorded 45 saves as the Flyers were outshot 47-32 by the home town Pistons. Winkler went 2-for-5 on the power-play and 4-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
The same two teams will meet again in the Flyers home opener on Saturday (September 26th). Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30pm with a special pregame ceremony prior to the game. Advance tickets are available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st – Ryan Larochelle (45 saves on 47 shots)
2nd – Scott Gall (2 goals – 1 assist)
3rd – Zak Hicks (2 goals – 1 assist)