Scott Gall, Cam Whyte and Patrice Wren accounted for seven points as the Winkler Flyers cruised to a 5-2 victory in their final regular season trip to Neepawa. Dasan Sydora also earned his 23rd win of the season as the Flyers won back to back games for the first time since November.
After beating the Waywayseecappo Wolverines 3-1 the night before, the Flyers made their final trip to the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa for their fifth meeting of the season against the Natives. Winkler came into the game with a (2-1-1) record against the Natives, losing both previous games in Neepawa. The Flyers were also looking to string back to back wins together for the first time since November 23rd, when they beat Selkirk at the tail end of a six game winning streak.
Winkler came out of the gate strong in Neepawa and took a 1-0 lead near the midway point of the period. After taking the pass from Nathan Karlowsky, Cam Whyte threw the puck into the crease where Scott Gall tapped it between the legs of goaltender Alex Henry for the game’s first goal, 9:18 into the first.
Neepawa tied the game at one with 4:46 left in the first, when forward Kyle McDonald deflected a shot over Sydora and in. However, Winkler would get that one back on the power-play before the end of the period. With 2:08 left before intermission, Cam Whyte took a pass in the slot from Patrice Wren and picked the top corner for his 22nd of the season. Zak Hicks also assisted and Winkler took their one goal lead into the break.
Now in the second period, Winkler kept the pressure on and increased their lead with two quick goals midway through the middle frame. Just over eight minutes into the period, Brett Klassen and Bryce Enns assisted on Jagger Thomas’ slap shot goal, giving Winkler a 3-1 lead. It was Thomas’ first goal as a Flyer and third overall this season.
Jeff Michiels then pushed Winkler ahead 4-1, 59 seconds later, finishing off a 2-on-1 with Scott Gall. The goal was also Michiels’ third of the season. Winkler took their three goal lead into the third, while outshooting their opponent 27-17 through 40 minutes.
Neepawa cut Winkler’s lead to 4-2 with 6:05 to play in regulation thanks to an unfortunate bounce in front of the net. Winkler was quick to get that one back too and for the second time on the night, it came on the power-play. With 3:43 left on the clock, Scott Gall deflected Jon Carlson’s waist high shot over top of Henry for his second of the game and 19th of the season. Patrice Wren drew his second assist of the night on the goal to give Winkler a 5-2 lead.
Dasan Sydora increased his individual record to (23-8-4) thanks to a 24 save performance. Winkler out-shot Neepawa 40-26 overall. Winkler went 2-for-5 on the power-play and 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill. It was the Flyers third straight win against Neepawa as they now hold a (3-1-1) advantage in the season series.
The Flyers (27-14-10) will host Neepawa (13-36-2) on Tuesday, February 10th in the rematch and final meeting of the regular season. Winkler sits alone in fourth place in the MJHL Standings with 64 points, three points back of the third place Steinbach Pistons and two points ahead of the fifth place Virden Oil Capitals with nine games left in the regular season.