Flyers blank Steelers in regular season finale

Ryan Sawatzky photo. Supplied

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The Winkler Flyers capped off their regular season schedule with an impressive 6-0 win over the visiting Selkirk Steelers on Saturday night.

Dorrin Luding was perfect between the pipes and the Flyers’ special teams were in top form as Winkler eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention with their 38th victory of the season.

Having not played since their win over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Feb. 22, the Orange and Black welcomed a Selkirk Steelers club desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive. While the Flyers final position in the MJHL standings had already been determined, the Steelers hold on the eighth and final playoff spot was all of a sudden up in the air after going 0-6-3 in their last nine games and being caught by the Winnipeg Blues.

With a packed house at full volume right from the start, momentum was with the Flyers right from the beginning. While on an early penalty-kill, the Flyers gave the home side something to cheer about early in the first period. Just five minutes into the game, Everett Bestland stole the puck in the neutral zone, made a nice move around a Steelers’ defenseman and tucked in his sixth goal of the season to put Winkler in front 1-0 with their league leading 11th short-handed goal of the season.

Not even two minutes later, the Flyers’ depth added another one as Cameron Critch showed some great hands in front of the net, doubling Winkler’s lead to 2-0. Jayden McCarthy picked up an assist on Critch’s second of the season.

Still in front by a pair in the second period, Ian Tookenay carried the puck into the Steelers’ zone at full speed and found the top corner with a perfect snap shot pushing Winkler ahead by three goals. Critch and Nathan Poolman picked up the helpers on Tookenay’s goal.

With a record of 25-2-1 when leading after 40 minutes, the Flyers put the game away with three power play goals as part of a penalty filled third period. The first one came just 88 seconds into the period when Ian Tookenay and Griffin Leonard assisted on Drake Burgin’s 12th of the season to make the score 4-0.

Six minutes later, Mateo Albinati tipped in a Nathan Poolman point shot to make it 5-0. Then with under four minutes to go, Mateo Albinati and Eric Fawkes set up Nathan Poolman for a one-timer and Poolman’s third point of the night gave the Flyers a 6-0 lead.

Lost in the Flyers’ offensive outburst was the rock solid play of goaltender Dorrin Luding who stopped all 29 shots he faced, while earning his second shutout of the season. The 20 year old netminder has allowed just one goal in his last three starts combined and finished the regular season second in the MJHL in wins with 27  and minutes played with 2543.

The Flyers outshot the Steelers 35-29 overall and went 3-for-7 on the power-play and 6-for-6 on the penalty-kill.

The Flyers (38-17-5), finished the regular season in third place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings after missing the playoffs a season ago and will face the winner of Sunday’s game between the Virden Oil Capitals and Dauphin Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

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