It was a game of missed opportunities for the Winkler Flyers in a 4-1 loss to the Virden Oil Capitals. Playing at Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden for the second straight game, the Flyers again failed to capitalize on their chance and the bounces went the home team’s way.
With exactly a week off since losing 5-1 in Virden on Friday, January 9th, the Winkler Flyers returned to Virden looking for a better fate. Winkler has had trouble winning on the road as of late, with their last victory away from home coming November 23rd in Selkirk (4-3 win).
Devon Fordyce made his first start for Winkler after being acquired from the OCN Blizzard at the trade deadline and was tested early on. Just 3:07 into the hockey game, Virden defenseman Jordan Grieg saw his point shot deflect off the back of teammate Kurt Johnas and past Fordyce, giving the Oil Caps a 1-0 lead.
Winkler would find themselves on a series of power-plays after that and tied the game with 8:54 to play in the first when Zak Hicks scored his fifth of the season. The unassisted power-play goal came after Flyers leading scorer Tristan Keck took a stick in the face, forcing him to leave the game. He did not return.
The Flyers and Oil Capitals went into the first intermission tied 1-1. The bounces continued to go Virden’s way in the second when a centering pass kicked off the skate of Virden forward Mack Hardy and into the back of the net, giving the Oil Caps a 2-1 lead just under three minutes into the period. It was a power-play goal.
Fordyce was strong in the second as Virden carried a one goal lead into the third despite outshooting the Flyers 23-17 through 40 minutes. Winkler also had their chances to score but continued to be baffled by Virden goaltender Sean Kuehn for the second straight game.
Early in the third period, the Oil Caps extended their lead to 3-1 when Jake Dudar scored after it appeared Virden carried the puck into the Flyers zone offside. Winkler, now trailing by two goals continued to search for some offense without their leading scorer.
With 2:36 left on the clock, Corey Haverstick gave Virden a 4-1 lead when he deposited the rebound after being stopped on a breakaway by Devon Fordyce and the Oil Capitals had all the insurance they needed.
Fordyce was very impressive in his first start as a Flyer. He made 31 saves as Virden outshot Winkler 35-22 overall. Winkler’s power-play struggled going 1-for-7, while their penaty-kill went 4-for-5.
Along with Fordyce, forward Ryne Keller also played his first game as a member of the Orange and Black and was equally as impressive.
The Flyers (24-12-7) will travel to Portage (41-2-2) on Wednesday night, beginning a stretch of four road games in a span of five days. Winkler is (1-3-1) in their four previous meetings with the first place Terriers. You can catch the game live on Country 88.9FM and online at www.pembinavalleyonline.com with Matt Friesen’s pregame show live from the PCU Centre at 7:25pm.
Winkler remains in fourth place in the MJHL Standings, three points behind the second place Winnipeg Blues, one point behind the third place Steinbach Pistons and three points ahead of the fifth place Virden Oil Capitals.
NOTE: The injury Tristan Keck sustained in the first period in Virden is not believed to be serious. He will be re-evaluated in the coming days.