Connor Slipp made 33 saves as the Winkler Flyers kicked off the 2016-2017 MJHL regular season with a 3-1 win in Neepawa. Scott Gall scored twice in the third period to help the Flyers get the season started on a positive note.
After going 4-1-1 in the preseason, the Orange and Black hit the road to start the season for a date with the Neepawa Natives at the Yellowhead Centre. Winkler and Neepawa met twice in the preseason, with each team winning their games at home. The first period was a back and forth period with both goaltenders playing well and both teams generating good chances.
The Flyers hit the score sheet first with a goal just 29 seconds into the second period. After a good cycle down low in the Natives’ zone, Braden Billaney found Jeff Michiels in front of the net and the Holland native fired one through the five-hole of goaltender Tyler Gutenberg to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Coltyn Bates also assisted on the goal.
Neepawa got that one back when Ashton Anderson scored with 6:29 left in the period and the game was tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Winkler regained the lead just seven minutes into the third period thanks to Scott Gall’s first of the game. Driving the puck through the Neepawa defense, Tyler Jubenvill saw his shot deflect off a leg and right to Braden Billaney, who was also stopped by the Neepawa goaltender. The wave of Flyer chances didn’t stop there as Scott Gall came in with the third chance and scooped the rebound into the net to put the Flyers up 2-1.
The Flyers tightened up defensively the rest of the game, protecting their one goal lead. With just over four minutes left in regulation, the Natives were rewarded a four minute power-play and a golden opportunity to get back in the game. But the Flyers would get the job done and kill off the penalty and with nine seconds left, Scott Gall scored into the empty Neepawa net to make the final 3-1 for Winkler.
Connor Slipp was fantastic in the season opener, making 33 saves as the Natives outshot Winkler 34-27. Winkler went 0-for-4 on the power-play and 5-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers will welcome the Natives to the Winkler Rec Complex on Saturday night for the Flyers regular season home opener. Game time is 7:30pm with the player introductions prior to the game. There will also be an alumni game from 3-4pm (Free of charge) with Alumni introductions in the first intermission.
There will also be a kick off BBQ outside of the arena from 5:30pm – 7pm with Winkler Meats Smokies, Kroeker Farms French Fries, and Coop Pop. The BBQ is free with the purchase of a game ticket or VIP pass.
NOTE: Flyers Defenseman Mitch Dyck left the game with an injury in the second period and did not return. He will re-evaluated and is listed as day to day.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – G CONNOR SLIPP (33 SAVES)
2ND STAR – F SCOTT GALL (2 GOALS)
3RD STAR – F BRADEN BILLANEY (2 ASSISTS)