Tyler Jubenvill scored the game winner with 6:52 left in regulation as the Winkler Flyers got past the visiting Winnipeg Blues 3-2 on Sunday night. Cole Weaver picked up his 20th win of the year in goal as the Orange and Black won their fourth game in a row, and sixth straight game at home.
With just one regulation loss in their last 14 games, the Flyers were looking to keep climbing up the standings in their fourth of six meetings against the Blues. Winkler had taken two of their first three games against Winnipeg, with two of the three games being decided by a single goal.
Off to another good start, the Flyers found the back of the net first just before the midway point of the opening period. After taking the pass beside the Blues’ net from Will Blake, Brett Opperman snapped a quick wrist shot through the five-hole of goaltender Adam Derochie to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Tyler Jubenvill also assisted on Opperman’s second goal of the year.
Despite outshooting Winnipeg 19-9 in the first period, the Flyers failed to take a lead into the break as the Blues tied the game 1-1 with 2:07 remaining in the opening frame.
The Flyers would spend the bulk of the middle frame in the Blues’ zone, sending another 18 shots on goal, compared to just five directed at Winkler goaltender Cole Weaver. However, Winnipeg would take a 2-1 lead before the six minute mark of the period when Adam Wowryk beat Weaver through a screen and the Flyers trailed for the first time in three games.
Winkler managed to tie the game before the end of the period with their 11th power-play goal in their last 10 games. Leading the Flyers in assists but not having scored a goal since December 2nd, Lawson McDonald rushed after a loose puck beside the goal and chopped it home, pulling Winkler even 2-2. Gino Lucia had the primary assist, while Tanner Lewis increased is point streak to four games with the second assist on McDonald’s sixth of the year. After recording just seven points in 20 games played with Virden earlier in the year, Lewis now has 15 points in 15 games since being acquired by the Flyers in late November.
With Winnipeg keeping the game close despite being outshot 37-14 through two periods, the game was up for grabs in the third. Both teams traded chances in the third and the game took a more physical and emotional turn. Just past the halfway point of the third, Flyers captain Connor Hamonic provided a spark when he dropped the gloves with Blues forward Matt LeBlanc giving his team a much needed boost.
The Flyers would use that boost to regain the lead for good with 6:52 left on the clock thanks to Jubenvill’s 11th of the year and fourth in his last five games. Mitch Dyck and Coltyn Bates drew the assists.
Cole Weaver made 23 saves in his 20th win of the season. Winkler outshot Winnipeg 46-25. The Flyers went 1-for-8 on the power-play and 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (31-10-2) are now just one point behind the second place Selkirk Steelers with three games in hand. Winkler will conclude their four game homestand on Tuesday night with their fourth game of the season against the Steinbach Pistons. Winkler defeated the Pistons 5-1 on January 17th in their last meeting and are 1-1-1 overall against the MJHL’s top club this year.
Puck drop on Tuesday, January 24th is 7:30pm at the Winkler Rec Complex with advance tickets available at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar or at the door prior to the game. Tuesday’s game sponsor is BASF.
NOTE: F Brayden Cullum was suspended for two games by the MJHL for his Checking from Behind major during Friday’s game against Swan Valley. Cullum will be eligible to return to the line-up on Friday, January 27th in Swan Valley. Ian Mackey missed his second game due to injury. He is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – D Tyler Jubenvill (Winkler)
2nd Star – G Adam Derochie (Winnipeg)
3rd Star – D Lawson McDonald (Winkler)