It was a game of missed opportunities for the Winkler Flyers on Tuesday night, as the Orange and Black fell 5-2 to the visiting OCN Blizzard. Despite outshooting OCN 36-21 in the game, the Flyers failed to find their offensive stride while at the same time, struggling in their own zone against the red hot Blizzard.
After losing 4-2 to the Steinbach Pistons the day before, the Flyers welcomed an OCN club that had won nine of their last 10 games and sat four points behind them in the MJHL standings.
It was a back and forth start to the game as both teams looked to get the upper hand. OCN would score first when Captain Brady Keeper carried the puck across the crease before sliding it around Cole Weaver to give the Blizzard a 1-0 lead with 9:25 left in the period.
Just minutes later, OCN doubled their lead to 2-0 thanks to a power-play goal by Victor Knaub. It was a frustrating first 20 minutes for the Flyers who failed to find the back of the net, despite five power-plays in the period including a lengthy 5-on-3. Already playing short two forwards in the game due to injury, Winkler lost forward Tanner Lewis in the first period after he was the victim of a high sticking penalty forcing him to leave the game.
With 11:59 to play in the middle period, the Blizzard power-play struck again as defenseman Maverick Rafter extended OCN’s lead to 3-0. Winkler got on the board with 4:25 left in the second period when Will Blake beat OCN netminder Brett Epp short side, cutting the Blizzard lead to 3-1. Gino Lucia and Lawson McDonald assisted on Blake’s 12th of the year.
The momentum was on the Flyers’ side to start the third period and it appeared that Will Blake had scored his second of the game just over three minutes in. However, after originally being called a goal, it was later decided by the officials that there was goaltender interference which resulted in the goal being waved off and the Blizzard still leading the game 3-1.
That was a big turning point in the game as it seemed to deflate the Flyers. Just five minutes later, OCN scored again to take and 4-1 lead, and two minutes after that, they made it 5-1. With just under four minutes left in the game, Matt Christian tipped in Lawson McDonald’s point shot to cut OCN’s lead to 5-2. It was McDonald’s team leading 39th assist of the season. Jacob Lacasse also assisted on Christian’s 18th of the year.
Cole Weaver made 16 saves in the game as Winkler outshot OCN 36-21. The Flyers were 0-for-8 on the power-play and 3-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (38-15-3) remain tied for second place in the MJHL standings with the Selkirk Steelers. Winkler has four games left in the regular season and two games in hand on the Steelers. OCN also has four regular season games left and trails both Winkler and Selkirk by two points.
Winkler will play their final regular season road game on Saturday, February 25th against the Winnipeg Blues. Puck drop at the MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg is 7pm, with the pregame show getting underway on Country 88.9fm and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com getting underway at 6:55pm. Winkler is 3-1 against the Blues this season. The Flyers, who have lost two games in a row have never had a three game losing streak this season.
NOTE: Forward Tanner Lewis left the game in the first period after taking a stick to the face. His injury is not believed to be serious. Scott Gall, Jeff Michiels, Brayden Cullum, Brody Moffatt and Tyler Lindstrom were all out of the line-up once again due to injury.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – F JEREMY DUMONT (OCN)
2ND STAR – F GEORGE KING (OCN)
3RD STAR – D LAWSON McDONALD (WINKLER)