The battle of the top two teams in the MJHL lived up to the hype as the Winkler Flyers earned a single point in a thrilling 4-3 shootout loss to the Portage Terriers on Tuesday night. The game featured fast paced, hard hitting action as well as a Flyers third period comeback which allowed them to force extra time.
Sitting in second place, the Winkler Flyers played host to the first place Portage Terriers who were riding a season opening 11 game winning streak. These two teams first met on September 30th, which was a forgettable 8-1 win for the Terriers in Portage.
Tuesday’s contest was an exciting affair from start to finish. After weathering the storm in the opening few minutes, the Flyers hit the scoreboard first. Catching the Terriers on a line change, Lawson McDonald fed Winkler native Nolan McGuire with a breakaway pass and with a snap shot over the glove of Portage netminder Talor Joseph, the rookie gave Winkler a 1-0 lead, 7:01 into the game. Former Terrier Jon Carlson also drew an assist.
Mackenzie Dwyer would tie the game with a shot from the point midway through the first, and with 4:35 to play in the period, Garick Gray would put the Terriers in front 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Portage increased their lead to 3-1 when Jordyn Boyd cut across the goal mouth and beat Flyers goaltender Adam Vander Linden blocker side, just under three minutes into the second period.
Vander Linden and the Flyers defense would hold the Terriers at bay the rest of the period as Portage took their two goal lead into the second intermission while outshooting the Flyers 32-14.
The Flyers were determined to get back into the game in the third period and began their comeback with 11:38 left in regulation. After gaining entry into the Terriers’ zone, Shawn Pachet found defenseman Zak Hicks creeping in from the point. After being stopped in front, the puck kicked over to Zach Heisinger in the left shot and he potted his third of the season and second in as many games, cutting Portage’s lead to 3-2.
Winkler sure had their chances to get the equalizer in the third period and waited until the last minute to do so. With a mad scramble going on in front of the Terriers net, Brett Klassen scored with just 59 seconds to play to tie the game 3-3. Bryce Enns assisted on Klassen’s third goal of the season.
The Flyers kept coming in the final moments and nearly took the lead with a few seconds to go but the game would head to overtime. After the five minute overtime period solved nothing, the Flyers were headed to a shootout for the third time in the last four games.
With Jordyn Boyd scoring the only goal of the shootout for the Terriers, Portage would take the extra point and the 4-3 win.
Adam Vander Linden (4-1-2) was outstanding in goal for the Flyers making 40 saves in 65 minutes of play. The Terriers outshot Portage 43-25 overall. Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power-play.
The Flyers (7-2-3) will now travel up north for their first long road trip of the season. Winkler will play in Dauphin on Friday (7pm), OCN on Saturday (7pm) and Swan Valley on Sunday (6pm). Remember all road games can be heard live on Country 88 with Matt Friesen’s pregame show beginning five minutes prior to game time. You can also listen online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com.