Jordan Williamson scored his third shootout winner of the season and Nathan Warren stoned all three Blues skaters to help the Winkler Flyers to a 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Blues at the MTS Ice Plex on Sunday night.
Playing the Blues for the third time this season, the Flyers were looking for their third win in three tries against the leagues fifth place club. The second place Flyers won the first two meetings in Winkler by identical 3-2 scores. Winkler was also looking to rebound after losing a tough 3-2 game to the visiting Portage Terriers on Friday night.
The Flyers received a great start with a goal on the second shift of the game. Just 1:37 into the contest, Cam Whyte had a couple of cracks in front of the net and potted his team leading 19th of the season to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Tristan Keck and Connor Hamonic assisted.
Winnipeg responded with a goal of their own when Reid Stefanson slid by a Flyers defender and beat goaltender Nathan Warren before the game was five minutes old. Winnipeg took the lead just before the midway point of the first, thanks to Taeron Lewis’ goal off a set faceoff play, 9:55 into the period.
Trailing 2-1 moving into the second, Winkler tied the game 2-2, 8:41 into the period when Jason Cohan and Braden Billaney cleared space for Nico Labossiere to skate in and score his fifth to pull Winkler even.
However, Winnipeg forward Mitch Hansen put the Blues back in front 3-2 just over two minutes later. Finding themselves behind for the second time in the game, the Flyers went on the power-play with just over five minutes remaining before intermission. After taking the pass from Jordan Williamson at the left point, Zak Hicks fired a waste high shot on goal that Jeff Michiels was able to deflect between the legs of Scott Parsons for the Flyers third goal. It was Michiels’ 10th of the year.
With the game tied 3-3 through 40 minutes, both teams had their chances in the third. With just over two minutes left in regulation, the Flyers took a penalty, which gave the Blues a great opportunity to finish off Winkler before overtime. But the Flyers penalty-kill buckled down and killed it off and moved the game into the fourth period. After overtime solved nothing, a shootout was required. Winkler had won two of their previous three shootout games, while Winnipeg had won just one of their four games that went to the shootout.
The first two shooters in round one failed to hit the mark, and after Nathan Warren stopped the Blues to start round two, Winkler forward Jordan Williamson knifed one home to put the Flyers one save away from victory.
With Winnipeg leading scorer Kamerin Nault charging down on goal, Flyers’ goaltender Nathan Warren dove out and poke checked the puck away to seal the win for the Flyers.
Warren played a solid game in his Flyers’ debut making 27 saves through 65 minutes and stopped all three in the shootout. The Flyers outshot Winnipeg 31-30 overall. Winkler’s power-play went 1-for-4 while the penalty-kill was a perfect 3-for-3.
The Flyers have now won three of their four shootout games, with Williamson scoring the winning goal each time. The win improved the Flyers record to 22-5-2, good for a tie of second place with the Steinbach Pistons. Both teams trail the idle Portage Terriers by seven points for first. Winkler has two games in hand on both Portage and Steinbach.
The Flyers will hit the road next weekend for their second northern trip of the year. Winkler will play in OCN (Friday @ 7pm), Swan Valley (Saturday @ 7:30pm) and Dauphin (Sunday @ 7pm) on the trip. You can catch all three games on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com with Matt Friesen’s pregame show getting underway five minutes prior to game time.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – F Jordan Williamson (Winkler)
2nd Star – F Cam Whyte (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Kurt Sonne (Winkler)
Winkler Canvas Hardest Working Flyer
D Nathan Karlowsky