Flyers even up series with win in Virden

Ryan Sawatzky photo.

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The Winkler Flyers grinded out a 6-3 win in Virden on Sunday night, tying their best of seven quarter final series at a game apiece. Sulivan Shortreed and Carson Pawlenchuk both scored twice, and Dylan Meilun played fantastic in relief of an injured Dorrin Luding as Winkler will now return home looking to take a 2-1 series lead in Game 3 on Tuesday night.

After dropping Game 1 1-0 in double overtime Friday night, the Winkler Flyers made the trip to Tundra Oil & Gas Place in search of a series tying win in Game 2. Despite losing all four of their home games against the Oil Capitals this season, the Flyers have had a lot of success in Virden, finishing their regular season series with a 2-0-1 record in their games played away from home.

Game 2 was the complete opposite of Game 1, where it took until the 72nd minute for the game’s first goal to be scored. The Flyers went on an early power-play on Sunday night and it took Sulivan Shortreed all of 58 seconds to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Then just 15 seconds later, Griffin Leonard stole the puck in front of the net and doubled Winkler’s lead to 2-0.

The craziness of the first period was only just beginning as the Oil Capitals got their turn on the power-play in the moments that followed and scored two goals of their own and added another even strength marker and the Flyers all of a sudden found themselves trailing 3-2. All five of the goals came in the first five minutes and nine seconds of the first period.

After seeing their early momentum snuffed out, the Flyers were able to get it back when Carson Pawlenchuk tracked down a lose puck beside the net and scored with 3.3 seconds left on the clock to send the game into the first intermission tied 3-3.

One of the big moments of the game came just over six minutes into the opening period when goaltender Dorrin Luding was forced to leave the game after receiving heavy Virden contact for the second time in the game. That thrust rookie goaltender Dylan Meilun into action for the rest of the game, and what a game he ended up having.

Still tied early in the second period, the Flyers went back to the power-play and once again it was Shortreed who scored to push Winkler back in front 4-3. After leading the team with 29 goals throughout the regular season and 11 goals on the power-play, the Emo, Ont., native had put his team back in front for good.

The Flyers then earned themselves some breathing room when Ian Tookenay tipped in Nathan Poolman’s point shot just a few minutes later and the Flyers now led 5-3.

The play of goaltender Dylan Meilun and the Winkler penalty-kill would be front and centre the rest of the night. After starting the game 2-for-2 on the power-play, the Oil Capitals would be turned away on their next eight chances on the man-advantage and Meilun finished the night with 40 saves on 40 shots as Winkler would battle right to the end. With less that two minutes left in regulation, Everett Bestland assisted on Pawlenchuk’s empty net goal to make the final 6-3 for the visitors.

It was an emotional, physical and penalty filled game with the Flyers finishing the night 2-for-5 on the power-play and 8-for-10 on the penalty-kill. The Oil Caps outshot the Flyers 48-35 overall. Dorrin Luding made five saves on eight shots, while Dylan Meilun stopped all 40 that came his way in relief. The Flyers were able to get the job done despite missing captain Jaden Townsend, veteran defenseman Garrett Szeremley and leading rookie point getter Alex Cattani due to injury.

The Flyers and Oil Capitals will meet back in Winkler for Game 3 Tuesday night. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30 p.m.

-Matt Friesen

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