Flyers down Blues in 2019 finale

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Matt Friesen

Jayden McCarthy and Griffin Leonard led the way with three points each as the Winkler Flyers doubled up the Winnipeg Blues 4-2 on Sunday night in their final game before the MJHL Christmas break. Dorrin Luding once again was in fine form, finishing the game with 48 saves to help the Orange and Black win their fourth straight game at home.

Coming off a 2-1 shootout victory over the Steinbach Pistons on Friday, the Flyers welcomed the Winnipeg Blues to the Winkler Rec Complex looking to head into the Christmas Break on a winning note. The Blues themselves were also coming off a win over the first place Pistons, 4-1 in Steinbach on Saturday.

The Flyers could not have asked for a better start as they opened the scoring just 1:26 into the game. After dancing around the Blues’ defense, Jayden McCarthy scored his team leading 22nd goal of the season with Jaden Townsend and Griffin Leonard picking up the assists.

The first period featured a lot of chances for both clubs, but the Blues managed to capitalize on a couple of defensive miscues and took a 2-1 lead before the game was eight minutes old. The Blues went on a full, two minute 5-on-3 power-play later in the period, but it was the Flyers who got themselves back in the game. With 3:42 left in the first, Jayden McCarthy sprung Griffin Leonard on a short-handed breakaway, and the 20 year forward made no mistake in picking the top corner to tie the game 2-2.

With the shots 23-21 Winkler after just 20 minutes of play, the game went tied 2-2 into the second. The Flyers’ special teams struck one more time in the middle frame, this time on the power-play. With just over eight minutes left on the clock, McCarthy’s shot through a screen once again found the top half of the net and the Flyers led 3-2 thanks to McCarthy’s second goal of the game. Ian Tookenay and Sulivan Shortreed assisted on the play.

With a 16-1-1 record when leading after 40 minutes, the Flyers buckled down in the third, and thanks to the goaltending of Dorrin Luding, the Flyers would not relinquish the lead. The Flyers picked up an insurance marker with less than one second left in regulation thanks to Ian Tookenay’s empty net goal to put the Flyers in front by two.

After a 61 save performance on Friday night, Dorrin Luding made another 48 stops against the Blues to increase his record to 15-7-2. Winnipeg outshot Winkler 50-49 overall. The Flyers were 1-for-2 on the power-play and 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill.

The Flyers now head into the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Christmas Break with a 21-10-4 record which is good for fourth place in the league standings. The Flyers are just three points back of the third place Swan Valley Stampeders with two games in hand. The Flyers will return from the break and head up north with stops in Swan Valley and OCN.

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