The Orange and Black dropped a hard fought 3-2 decision to the visiting Virden Oil Capitals in game one of their MJHL Quarterfinal series on Wednesday night. Despite a furious late game push, the Flyers came up just short in the end as the Oil Caps head home for game two with a 1-0 series lead.
With just four points separating the fourth place Flyers from the fifth place Oil Capitals at the completion of the regular season, both teams knew this series was going to be a tight one. Game one was exactly that.
The first period was a good back and forth playoff style period with both teams heading into the second tied 0-0. Winkler got on the board first just 2:21 into the second period thanks to a power-play goal by defenseman Jon Carlson. After Patrice Wren fished the puck out of the corner, Cam Whyte passed it over to Carlson, who skated in from the point and scored, giving Winkler a 1-0 lead. It was Winkler’s fifth straight game with a power-play goal.
With 5:22 to play in the second, Clay Van Diest pulled Virden even when his one-timer beat goaltender Dasan Sydora just past his out stretched glove. Sydora had a strong opening 40 minutes as the game went tied 1-1 into the third, despite the Oil Caps outshooting the Flyers 28-17 through two periods.
The Oil Caps took their first lead of the game just under two minutes into the third period when Torrin Grange took advantage of a Flyers’ turnover at the Virden blueline, and scored on the ensuing breakaway. Now playing from behind, the Flyers started getting pucks towards the Virden net but couldn’t pull the trigger.
After the Flyers gave up the puck at the Virden blueline due to a delayed offside, the Oil Capitals raced it down the ice. With 4:20 to go in the period, Corey Haverstick stepped into a slapshot that kicked off the shoulder of Sydora and into the back of the net, giving the visitors a 3-1 lead.
With just minutes to play, the Flyers called a timeout and pulled Sydora for the extra attacker with the faceoff coming up in the Virden zone. After winning the draw, the Flyers went to work looking to pull within one. With 1:03 left in regulation, Cam Whyte and Scott Gall got the puck to Zak Hicks who fired a shot off a body in front, over top of goaltender Sean Kuehn and over the goal line, cutting the Oil Caps lead to 3-2.
Winkler spent the final minute of the period in the Virden zone and came very close to sending the game to overtime, but were forced to settle for a 3-2 loss in the opening game of the series.
Dasan Sydora made 35 saves in the game as the Oil Capitals outshot the Flyers 38-28 overall. Winkler went 1-for-5 on the power-play and 5-for-5 on the penalty-kill. Virden native Cam Whyte had two assists to lead the Flyers in the game.
The Flyers will now head to Virden for game two on Friday, March 13th looking to tie the series at one before the series returns to Winkler for game three on Sunday, March 15th. You can catch game two, live from Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com with Matt Friesen’s pregame show getting underway at 7:25pm.
Advanced tickets and playoff passes for Game Three can be purchased at the Winkler Coop Gas Bar.