The Winkler Flyers picked up their 40th win of the season on Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory over the Neepawa Natives. Gino Lucia and Coltyn Bates both scored for Winkler, while Troy Martyniuk earned the 25 save shutout to help the Flyers win their second game in a row.
Beginning a three game home stand to end the regular season, the Flyers welcomed the Neepawa Natives for their sixth and final meeting of the year. The two points up for grabs were important for both clubs, as Winkler was looking to inch closer to clinching second place, while the Natives were after the win to move back into the final playoff spot in the MJHL.
Needing the win to move back into eighth place in the league standings, the Natives jumped on the Flyers out of the gate. Making his second straight start, goaltender Troy Martyniuk was great in the opening 10 minutes of the game keeping Neepawa off the board. After weathering the early attack from the visitors, Winkler started to push back in the second half of the period and took a 1-0 lead with 5:50 left on the clock.
Taking the puck in the neutral zone, defenseman Nathan Peabody fired a pass up to Gino Lucia near the Neepawa line. After skating around the Neepawa defender, Lucia took the puck to the front of the net and scored his 16th of the year to put Winkler on the board first.
Taking their one goal lead into the second, Martyniuk and the Flyers held Neepawa at bay in the middle period despite being outshot 13-7 in the second period alone. With the game in the balance heading into the third, the pace picked up as both teams looked to gain the upper hand.
On the power-play late in the period, the Flyers picked up a much needed insurance goal with 2:42 left in regulation. After Connor Hamonic had his shot kick off the glass behind the Neepawa net, Coltyn Bates banged home the rebound to give Winkler a 2-0 lead. Matt Christian also assisted on Bates’ 19th of the season and second goal in as many games.
Troy Martyniuk stopped all 25 shots he faced while earning his first shutout of the season. The Winnipeg native is now 10-1-1 as a Flyer with a 1.83 GAA and a .934 SV%. The Flyers outshot the Natives 29-25 overall. The Flyers went 1-for-3 on the power-play and 5-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
Winkler (40-15-3) remains two points clear of the Selkirk Steelers for second place in the MJHL Standings with a game in hand. The Flyers will host the Winnipeg Blues in their next game on Friday night. Puck drop for Petro Canada Black Friday is 7:30pm. The Flyers have to earn just one more point in their last two games to clinch second place in the MJHL Standings, and home ice advantage into the second round of the playoffs.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – G TROY MARTYNIUK (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – F COLTYN BATES (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – G TYLER GUTENBERG (NEEPAWA)