The Winkler Flyers beat the first place Steinbach Pistons 5-1 on Tuesday night in a wildly entertaining contest at the Winkler Recreation Complex. In a game filled with end to end rushes, thunderous body checks, great goals and great goaltending, the Orange and Black ended the Pistons eight game winning streak with their 29th victory of the year.
Beginning a four game home stand, the Flyers welcomed the Pistons for their third meeting of the season. With a regulation win and an overtime win against the Flyers, the Pistons remained the only MJHL team that the Flyers had not beaten yet this year.
The game was a fast paced, physical affair right from the opening faceoff and went into the first intermission tied 0-0. Scott Gall opened the scoring just over four minutes into the second when he hammered a shot off the end glass and lifted the rebound over Pistons’ goaltender Roman Bengert for his team leading 23rd of the year.
Winkler doubled their lead on the power-play just before the half way point of the period when Coltyn Bates fired one through the five-hole to make the scored 2-0 for the home side. Nolan McGuire drew the assists on Bates’ 10th tally of the season. Outshooting the Pistons 27-21, the Flyers carried their two goal lead into the third period.
A quick start to the third period was key for the Flyers with the Pistons looking to get back into the game. With 1:38 gone in the final period, Tyler Jubenvill and Tanner Lewis assisted on Braden Billaney’s 12th of the year and Winkler had a 3-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, Matt Christian led Coltyn Bates on a 2-on-1 and the Grand Forks, North Dakota native slid a great pass over to Bates who scored his second of the game to increase Winkler’s lead to four goals.
With his team doing their jobs in front of him, goaltender Cole Weaver was also shining against the Pistons. The rookie netminder made 16 of his 37 saves in the third period alone and was rewarded with one more goal with 9:10 left in regulation. It was the Flyers second power-play goal of the game and it was Tanner Lewis who slid it across the line for his sixth goal as a Flyer. Braden Billaney and Lawson McDonald drew the assists.
It was a near perfect game by the Flyers, with the only blemish coming with 2:46 left in the game when the Pistons finally hit the back of the net to cut Winkler’s lead to 5-1.
Cole Weaver was great on Tuesday night, making 37 saves while winning his 19th game of the year. The Pistons outshot the Flyers 38-36 overall. Winkler went 2-for-5 on the power-play and 6-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (29-10-2) are now 4-0-2 to start the month of January and have also won nine straight home games. Winkler will continue their home stand on Friday night when they host the Swan Valley Stampeders (15-23-3). Puck drop at the Winkler Rec Complex is 7:30pm. Winkler is 3-0-0 against the Stamps this season.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – G Cole Weaver (Winkler)
2nd Star – F Coltyn Bates (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Tanner Lewis (Winkler)