Tyler Lindstrom scored the game winner with 27.9 seconds left in triple overtime as the Winkler Flyers beat the Virden Oil Capitals 5-4 in Game One of the MJHL Playoffs. Trailing by two goals with five minutes left in regulation, the Flyers fought back to tie the game which led to a marathon opening to this best of seven series.
Starting the series at home, the second place Flyers welcomed the seventh place Oil Caps for the second time in six days. Virden beat Winkler 5-3 in the final game of the regular season back on March 4th. Winkler came into the game with an impressive 23-6-1 record on home ice, but in the six games played against the Oil Caps this season, the road team won four of them.
The two teams traded chances during a back of forth first period and with 1:41 left in the period, Oil Caps defenseman Jordan Thomson scored on the power-play to give the road team a 1-0 lead. Winkler was quick to get that one back when Coltyn Bates tucked a shot past goaltender Riley McVeigh just 50 seconds later. Matt Christian and Ian Mackey assisted on the goal and the game went into the first intermission tied 1-1.
Flyers netminder Troy Martyniuk kept his team in the game during the second period as the Flyers struggled to find their rhythm.
Virden started the third period with their second power-play goal and before the midway point of the period they scored their third straight on the power-play to take a 3-1 lead into the second half of the third period.
Winkler started to turn it around after that, and with 10:02 left in the third, Tyler Lindstrom assisted on Will Blake’s goal to cut Virden’s lead to 3-2. The Flyers suffered a setback a few minutes later when Oil Caps forward Carter Cowlthorp capitalized on a turnover at the Winkler blueline and restored Virden’s two goal lead with 7:36 left on the clock.
Needing a spark in order to get back into the game, Winkler went on the power-play with just over five minutes left in the third. Off a set faceoff play, Coltyn Bates pulled the draw back to Matt Christian who scored the Flyers third goal with 4:58 remaining.
With the momentum on their side, the Flyers pushed hard for the equalizer late in regulation. After a number of key stops in their own zone, Nolan McGuire rushed the puck up the ice and found Brody Moffatt charging down the right wing, The rookie forward shoveled in the game tying goal with 3:10 left to play in the third period.
That goal would set up a marathon of a series opener as the game remained tied 4-4 well into period six. Just before the game reached the four hour mark, the Flyers would officially complete the comeback. After getting the pass from Brayden Cullum, Will Blake sent a cross ice feed to Tyler Lindstrom who fired a shot over the blocker shoulder of goaltender Riley McVeigh with just 27.9 seconds left in triple overtime to give the Flyers the 5-4 win.
Troy Martyniuk had a fantastic game between the pipes for Winkler, making 41 stops in the win. The Flyers outshot Virden 52-45. The Flyers went 1-for-5 on the power-play and 3-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
Game Two of the series will be played in Virden on Sunday night (March 12th). Puck drop at Tundra Oil & Gas Place in Virden is 7pm with Matt Friesen’s pregame show on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com getting underway at 6:55pm. You can also video stream the game on www.hockeytv.com.
NOTE: Forwards Jeff Michiels and Brayden Cullum returned to the Flyers lineup after missing the last number of weeks with injury. Regular season leading scorer Scott Gall remains out of the lineup due to injury.
GREAT CANADIAN OIL CHANGE THREE STARS
1ST STAR – D TYLER LINDSTROM (WINKLER)
2ND STAR – G TROY MARTYNIUK (WINKLER)
3RD STAR – F BRODY MOFFATT (WINKLER)