In a battle of two of the top goaltenders in the MJHL, Troy Martyniuk made 47 saves as the Winkler Flyers defeated the Steinbach Pistons 4-2 Tuesday night at the Winkler Rec Complex.
The Pistons dominated the Flyers on the night outshooting them 49-16, and they ran into Martyniuk who was sensational in the Winkler goal. He turned away point-blank chance after point-blank chance from the Pistons. His counterpart Matthew Thiessen didn’t see much action, stopping 12 shots in the loss.
“Tonight was one of those nights where we could not buy a goal,” head coach Paul Dyck said after the game. “I liked our game in the offensive zone, but we made some decisions in the defensive and neutral zone that cost us.”
The Flyers got on the board just 1:05 into the first, as Garrett Kuklica threw a shot that deflected off of Will Blake’s stick and into the net for the 1-0 lead. The Flyers tacked on another goal in the period, as Brett Opperman fired a shot past Thiessen from the left face-off dot for a 2-0 lead. CJ Corrazin assisted on Opperman’s 8th goal of the season.
The second period began much like the first, as Winkler scored 1:04 in. Will Blake tallied his 2nd of the night, and his 12th of the season from Matt Christian to make it 3-0 for the Flyers. Then Winkler ran into penalty problems, taking two penalties shortly after their 3rd goal. The Pistons crashed the net and put a series of shots on Martyniuk on the 5-on-3 opportunity, and Tyson McConnell finally buried the rebound past the hot Flyers goalie for the Pistons’ first goal. McConnell picked up his 15th of the season, with the assists going to Austin Heidemann and Drew Worrad at 3:33 of the second period.
The rough stuff began, as both teams combined for 28 penalty minutes in the frame. The tension ratcheted up a notch, as the Pistons’ Braden Purtill was called for a blow to the head and received a minor penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct. However, it remained 3-1 after 40.
The Pistons poured on the pressure in the third period, but the 5’ 10” Martyniuk turned them away time and time again. The Pistons pulled to within one on a crazy bounce, as Daniel McKitrick was turned away by Martyniuk on a breakaway shot. The puck caromed off of a falling Flyers defenseman and trickled past the goal line. McKitrick was the last to touch it, and he got credit for his 17th of the season at 13:48.
But all the momentum the Pistons had built up was zapped away, as Matt Christian beat Thiessen on a breakaway of his own to put the Flyers up by 2 just 50 seconds later. It was the 18th goal of the season for Winkler’s leading scorer.
The Pistons had a chance to tie the game up late, as Cole Kirkup took a kneeing penalty with 2:16 left in the third. Dyck pulled Thiessen to make it a 6-on-4 chance. Martyniuk made one final spectacular save, as he sprawled back and stuck out his right pad to rob Mark Taraschuk’s wrist shot from going in. The Pistons outshot Winkler 23-3 in the last frame, but will head home with no points in the standings.
“We were very pleased with how we pressed and the looks that we generated,” Dyck said. “All four line were getting chances and applying pressure. The guys were disappointed with the loss, but can hold their head high with how we pushed in the third.”
POINT STREAK SNAPPED
The Pistons had recorded a point in their past 12 games, but that streak was snapped tonight. Their last loss in regulation happened when they lost 5-2 to the OCN Blizzard on December 2nd.
The Pistons were 1 for 8 on the power play tonight, and killed off all 4 penalties they faced.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will hit the road on Friday and Saturday before the league takes a break for the upcoming MJHL/SJHL Showcase. They will face the Swan Valley Stampeders on Friday, and the OCN Blizzard on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm on Friday. You can listen to the game on MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com, or watch it on HockeyTV.