The Winkler Flyers increased their league best road record to 12-2 thanks to a 4-3 win over the Neepawa Natives on Friday night. Bryce Krauter led the way with a pair of goals, while Alex Cattani, Drake Burgin and Jayden McCarthy also recorded multi-point games to help the Orange and Black remain tied for top spot in the MJHL standings.


Back on the road after playing their last three games at home, the Flyers made the trip to the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa to play the Natives for the fourth time this season. The Flyers managed wins in the first three meetings, with the last two being tight one goal games.


After a scoreless first period, the Flyers drew first blood just over seven minutes into the second when Bryce Krauter showed some great skill in front of the net before scoring his fourth goal of the season to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Entering the game with eight power-play goals in their last seven games, the Flyers doubled their lead to 2-0 later in the period with a goal on the man-advantage. Taking the pass from Jayden McCarthy on the left wing side of the ice, defenseman Nathan Poolman sent his shot into the top corner of the net, to score his fifth of the season and third of the year against the Natives. The goal increased the point streaks for both McCarthy and Poolman to eight games and five games respectively.


The Natives managed to cut Winkler’s lead to 2-1 before the end of the middle period and the Flyers took a one goal lead into the third. With a 14-0 record when leading after 40 minutes, the statistics were on Winkler’s side but they would have to work for it the rest of the way.


Early in the third, Jayden McCarthy carried the puck over the Neepawa line on the power-play and snapped a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Ethan Peterson to increase Winkler’s advantage to 3-1. Drake Burgin and Mateo Albinati earned the assists on McCarthy’s 16th of the season and 11th in his last eight games.


However, just 14 seconds later the Natives jumped on a home town bounce to score their second of the night. After missing the last two games, Bryce Krauter found the back of the net for a second time just over two minutes later and Winkler was back in front by two. Alex Cattani picked up his second assist of the game on Krauter’s fifth of the year.


The Natives fought back and found themselves on a 5-on-3 power-play with six minutes left on the clock, and after swarming around the Winkler net, Neepawa Captain Brad Marshall scored to cut Winkler’s lead to 4-3. That would be as close as the Natives’ would get as the Flyers tightened up and kept the puck away from their net the rest of the way.


Dorrin Luding made 24 saves in his 11th win of the season, increasing his record over his last 11 starts to 8-1-2. The 20 year old Richmond, B.C. native is third in the MJHL in victories. The Natives outshot the Flyers 27-17 overall. Winkler finished the night 2-for-5 on the power-play and 5-for-6 on the penalty-kill.


The Flyers (17-6-2) remain tied for first place in the MJHL Standings with the Steinbach Pistons. Winkler is now 13-1-2 over their last 16 games and 12-2 on the road. Winkler is also 14-0-1 when they score on the power-play.


Winkler’s next game is this coming Sunday when they host the Dauphin Kings. It will be Winkler Auto Dealers – Hockey Fight’s Cancer Night with free admission thanks to our good friends at Crocus Real Estate. Puck drop on Sunday is 7:30pm. You can live stream the game with a subscription to www.hockeytv.com. For more info on the Hockey Fight’s Cancer Night CLICK HERE.


NOTE: The Flyers played in Neepawa on Friday without centermen Sulivan Shortreed and Griffin Leonard. Leonard was suspended four games by the MJHL for a Match Penalty he received in Tuesday’s win over the Selkirk Steelers. He will be eligible to return when the Flyers host the Virden Oil Capitals on December 6th. Shortreed, who is now tied for the team lead in goals with McCarthy missed the game due to illness.