Flyers down Blues for sixth straight win

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The Winkler Flyers moved into second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with a 6-4 win over the visiting Winnipeg Blues on Tuesday night. Playing their fourth game in five days, the Orange and Black kept their red hot offense going while earning win number 25 on the season.

After a successful weekend road trip where the Flyers earned six of a possible six points in Swan Valley and OCN, the club returned home to face the Winnipeg Blues in their first home game of 2020. The Blues jumped out to an early lead just over a minute into the game, and for the eighth time in their last 11 games, the Flyers trailed 1-0. Winkler got that one back just 54 seconds later when Nathan Poolman’s point shot beat goaltender Cooper Hatfield, tying the game 1-1. Jayden McCarthy and Ian Tookenay assisted on Poolman’s fourth goal in his last four games.

Entering play on Tuesday, the Flyers had scored the most goals of any team in the MJHL and the offense would tack on three more in the second period. Just over three minutes into the middle frame, Jackson Arpin managed to tip in a pass from linemate Carson Pawlenchuk and Winkler moved in front 2-1. Then with 6:22 left in the period, Garrett Szeremley’s shot from the blueline snuck through a crowd and into the net and the Flyers had a 3-1 lead. Griffin Leonard picked up the lone assist on Szeremley’s fourth goal of the season and eighth point in his last 10 games.

Winkler would strike for one more goal before intermission and it came on the power-play when Drake Burgin found the target with 2:16 left on the clock to give Winkler a 4-1 advantage heading into the third. That goal came on one of the 20 shots the Flyers had in the middle frame.

Winnipeg cut Winkler’s lead to 4-2 on the power-play just over six minutes into the third, but Winkler was quick to get that one back with another power-play goal of their own. After taking the pass from Jayden McCarthy at the blueline, Drake Burgin set up Sulivan Shortreed for a one-timer and Winkler’s lead had grown to 5-2 thanks to Shortreed’s twenty first of the season and third in his last three games.

The Flyers got into a bit of trouble late in the period when the Blues struck for two quick goals to cut Winkler’s lead to 5-4 with just over two minutes left in regulation. Any chance of a Winnipeg comeback was snuffed out thanks to Grady Lane’s tap in goal with 1:41 left and the Flyers would skate away with the 6-4 victory. Nathan Poolman and Griffin Leonard assisted on the 16-year-old’s third of the season.

Dylan Meilun picked up the win between the pipes for the Flyers as Winkler outshot Winnipeg 52-34. Winkler went 2-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. With the win, the Flyers (25-10-4) jumped past the Portage Terriers for second place in league standings. The Terriers do have three games in hand. The Flyers are now 4-1-0 against Winnipeg this season.

Griffin Leonard and Jayden McCarthy both finished the game with three assists. Since the start of December, both forwards have accounted for a total of 33 points in their last 12 games combined.

The Flyers will hit the road on Friday night to take on the Virden Oil Capitals.

-Matt Friesen