The Winkler Flyers dropped a hard fought 2-1 decision to the Terriers in Portage in their final game of 2015. Playing their first game after the MJHL Christmas break, both clubs put on a good show in a game that had a little bit of everything.
Seeing their first game action since beating the Winnipeg Blues on the 19th of December, the Orange and Black travelled to the PCU Centre in Portage for a New Year’s Eve matinee against the MJHL’s first place team. It was the fourth meeting between the league’s two top clubs, with Winkler taking two of the previous three.
Winkler goaltender Connor Slipp stood tall in the first period, keeping the game scoreless through 20 minutes despite the home side leading 14-3 on the shot clock. The Flyers turned the tables on the Terriers in the second and started to carry the play.
Winkler managed to break the scoreless draw with 3:44 left in the second period, when Thomas Mansbridge took the pass from Coltyn Bates and picked the far bottom corner of the Portage net to put Winkler ahead 1-0. It was Mansbridge’s 10th goal of the season.
The Flyers outshot Portage 12-5 in the middle period and carried their one goal lead into the third.
The defending league champs drew even with a goal by Brad Bowles just over six minutes into the third. Portage took the lead just over four minutes later thanks to a fortunate bounce behind the Flyers’ net.
Despite their best efforts in the second half of the third period, which included three shots going off the post in the final few minutes, the Flyers failed to get the equalizer they needed before the final buzzer. It was a bitter pill for Winkler, to come up short in a game where they easily played good enough to win.
Connor Slipp (13-2) had a strong outing for Winkler making 26 saves in the game. Portage outshot Winkler 28-25 overall. Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power-play.
The Flyers (26-7-2) will play their first game of 2016 on Sunday, January 3rd when they travel to Selkirk for their third meeting of the season against the Steelers. The two teams split the first two games. You can catch the game live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com with Matt Friesen’s pregame show getting underway at 7:25pm.
The entire Winkler Flyers organization would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year and looking forward to seeing you all again in 2016.
Great Canadian Oil Change Three Stars
1st Star – F Brad Bowles (Portage)
2nd Star – G Connor Slipp (Winkler)
3rd Star – F Thomas Mansbridge (Winkler)
Winkler Canvas Hardest Working Flyer
D Connor Hamonic (Winkler)