The Winkler Flyers picked up a single point on Friday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Oil Capitals in Virden. With both clubs riding six-game winning streaks and sporting the top two offenses in the league, Friday’s game was a rare defensive battle right till the end.
Playing the Oil Capitals for the fourth time this season, a tight game was to be expected with the three previous games all being decided by a single goal. During their six-game winning streak, the Flyers had outscored their opponents 26-13 while averaging 44 shots on goal per game. They had also scored the first goal of the game just twice in that six-game span and gave up the first goal again against Virden.
Just over three minutes into the game, Oil Caps’ forward Tanner Andrew’s pass from the right wing side deflected off a Winkler defenseman before sneaking past goaltender Dorrin Luding. That would turn out to be the only goal Luding would allow through the first 65 minutes of play. The Flyers were quick to recover as they would tie the game just a few minutes later.
After taking a centering pass from defenseman Nathan Poolman, Jayden McCarthy scored his team-leading 25th goal of the season to pull Winkler even 1-1. Ian Tookenay also assisted on the goal. Poolman extended his point streak to five games, while McCarthy and Tookenay have now earned points in four straight. Fifteen of McCarthy’s 25 goals this season have come on the road.
For the next 57 minutes, the score remained 1-1 thanks in large part to the play of both goaltenders. With the Oil Capitals leading the MJHL in goals scored and the Flyers right behind them in second, it would be the defensive part of the game that was at the key. The Flyers appeared to take a 2-1 lead right at the end of the second, but Sulivan Shortreed’s shot crossed the goal line just after the buzzer went to end the period.
The shootout would go seven rounds deep before Virden picked up the extra point and the 2-1 win.
Dorrin Luding, who is now 6-1-1 in his last eight starts, made 24 saves as the Flyers outshot the Oil Capitals 35-24. Winkler went 0-for-6 on the power-play and 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers (25-10-5) remain in second place in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Standings, two points ahead of the third place Portage Terriers and eight points behind the first place Steinbach Pistons. The Flyers will return home on Sunday night to face off against the OCN Blizzard. Puck drop at the Winkler Recreation Complex is 7:30 p.m. You can stream the game live on www.hockeytv.com. Be sure and sign up for the Denray Tire Shoot to Win in the second intermission. One lucky fan will have a chance to win up to $1,500 in Denray Tire Bucks.
NOTES: Before the January 10th trade deadline, the Flyers dealt 19-year-old forward Bryce Krauter to the Red Lake Miners for future considerations and also released 18-year-old defenseman Jeron Kletzel. The Flyers would like to thank both young men for their contributions to the organization and wish them all the best in the future.