It was a physical affair at the Winkler Rec Complex on Friday night as the Winkler Flyers beat the visiting Neepawa Natives 5-2. The Flyers finished strong, with 21 of their 37 shots coming in the third period alone.
Playing their third exhibition game in four days, the Flyers were back at home after picking up their first preseason win, Wednesday night in Winnipeg.
The Natives out shot the Flyers 11-6 in the first period but thanks to goaltender Cole Weaver and the Winkler defence, Neepawa would be held off the scoreboard in the first. The Flyers got one late in the frame when Connor Hamonic assisted on Brendan Keck’s second of the preseason to give Winkler a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
Jordan Martin tied the game for Neepawa just over a minute into the second period, but Keck would get that one back with his second of the game before the period was half over. Nearly three minutes later, Gino Lucia picked off a pass at the Winkler blueline and scored on the ensuing breakaway putting Winkler up 3-1. Lucia continued to impress with three goals in three exhibition games thus far.
Neepawa scored their second on the power-play just before the end of the middle period and Winkler took a one goal lead into the third.
The score remained 3-2 for Winkler until the 15:28 mark of the third when Jason Cohan swung behind the net and found Braden Billaney in front of the net. Nico Labossiere also assisted on the Billaney’s goal to give the Flyers a two goal cushion.
With under a minute left in regulation, Mitch Dyck and Coltyn Bates assisted on Scott Gall’s empty netter and the Flyers would go on to win the game 5-2.
There was a lot of emotion in the game, especially for a preseason game which should make Saturday’s rematch in Neepawa all that more exciting.
Cole Weaver earned the win in goal for Winkler making 22 saves. Winkler outshot Neepawa 37-24 overall. Winkler went 0-for-10 on the power-play and 10-for-11 on the penalty-kill.
Puck drop on Saturday is 7:30pm at the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa. The Flyers are now 2-0-1 during preseason play.