Nathan Warren had an outstanding game between the pipes for Winkler on Thursday night as the Flyers edged the Winnipeg Blues 3-2 in a shootout. Scott Gall tied the game with just 14 seconds left in regulation before Tristan Keck scored the game winner in the fifth round of the shootout.
Coming off a 7-2 win in Waywayseecappo on Tuesday night, the Flyers made their way to the MTS Ice Plex in Winnipeg for the second time this season. In their first trip of the season back in early December, the Flyers came from behind to force overtime, eventually winning the game in a shootout. Thursday’s game would follow the same script.
After scoring the first goal of the game in their last three outings, the Flyers surrendered the opening goal just 1:25 into the first period. The Blues were the stronger of the two teams in the first and took their one goal lead into intermission.
The Flyers tilted the ice in the second period and started to turn up the offense in search of the equalizer. Winkler came within inches of pulling even on a number of occasions with at least four qualify chances finding the cross bar instead of the back of the net. The Flyers outshot Winnipeg 17-12 in the second but still trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes.
Winkler finally solved Blues goaltender Scott Parsons just past the six minute mark of the third. After carrying the puck into the offensive zone, Cam Whyte found a trailing Lawson McDonald who fired his shot off the pad of Parsons. Standing in the right place at the right time, Tristan Keck snapped home his 32nd goal of the season to tie the game 1-1.
However, just 30 seconds later the Blues raced down the ice and took the lead right back with 12:58 still to play in the third period. The Flyers, who had really picked up their game after the first period, continued to put heavy pressure on Parsons and the Winnipeg defense.
Still trailing 2-1 in the final minutes, the Flyers went on the power-play and pulled Warren to give themselves a two man advantage. Inside the Winnipeg zone, Connor Hamonic let a shot go from the blueline and with the Flyers banging away at the rebound, Scott Gall managed to lift the puck over the leg of the goaltender to tie the game 2-2 with just 14 seconds left in regulation. It was Gall’s 29th goal of the year and 15th in his last 17 games.
Now in overtime, the Flyers took a penalty which gave the Blues a prime opportunity with a 4-on-3 power-play. The Blues had the puck in the Winkler zone for almost the entire man advantage and thanks to a series of unbelievable saves by Nathan Warren the Flyers were able to kill it off and move the game to a shootout.
With a goal each after the first three rounds of the shootout, Tristan Keck had a chance to win the game for Winkler if he could score with the final shot of round five. After taking the puck at centre ice, the Flyers leading scorer raced in on Parsons and picked the top corner to give the Flyers the 3-2 victory.
Nathan Warren played one of his best games of the season, kicking aside 34 saves through 65 minutes of play and stopping four of the five shooters in the shootout. The win was Warren’s ninth win in his last ten starts and improved his record to 12-4-1. Winkler outshot Winnipeg 43-36 overall. Winkler went 1-for-9 on the power-play and 6-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers, who have now won four straight and 12 of their last 14 games will travel to Dauphin on Friday, February 19th for their final meeting of the season against the Kings. Puck drop at Credit Union Place in Dauphin is 7pm with the pregame show on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com getting underway at 6:55pm. The Flyers are 4-1 against Dauphin this season.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – G Nathan Warren (Winkler)
2nd Star – F Tristan Keck (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Matt Leblanc (Winnipeg)
Winkler Canvas Hardest Working Flyer of the Game
D Nathan Karlowsky / F Nolan McGuire