Griffin Leonard scored three times as the Winkler Flyers earned a 4-1 win over the OCN Blizzard at the MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg. The win was a much needed relief for the Orange and Black as it snapped a six game losing streak and moved the club closer to the .500 mark at the halfway point of the season.
Coming off a loss the night before in Beausejour where the Flyers had nearly 50 shots on goal against the Selkirk Steelers, Winkler took on the OCN Blizzard for the fourth time this season. With all 11 teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League playing a pair of games in front of scouts from all levels of hockey at the Seven Oaks Arena, the Flyers were looking to get some results from their improved level of play.
Dominating play in the opening period, the Flyers outshot the Blizzard 18-7 in the period and managed to do something they had done only once in their previous 12 games, they scored first. With 1:27 left in the first, Michael Boutoussov found Griffin Leonard in front of the goal and the second year Flyer scored to give Winkler a 1-0 lead. Erik Dahl also picked up an assist and the Flyers carried their lead into the second.
The middle frame was a bit more even as the Blizzard started to push back. The Flyers would double their lead midway through the period on the power-play. After taking the pass from Brody Moffatt up at the blueline, Collin Caulfield found Griffin Leonard in the slot and he made no mistake in giving Winkler a 2-0 lead.
With under a minute left before the break, the Blizzard cut Winkler’s lead in half as Evan Herman was sprung on a break away. That would be the only blemish for goaltender Riley Morgan who was rock solid between the pipes for Winkler.
Early in the third, Leonard completed the hat-trick when his shot from the side boards snuck through the legs of OCN goaltender Noah Giesbrecht and the Flyers two goal lead had been restored. Morgan and the Flyers kept the Blizzard offense at bay the rest of the way and with just over a minute left in regulation, Captain Connor Beebe scored his fourth of the season into an empty OCN net to make the final 4-1 for Winkler.
Riley Morgan made 23 saves in the win as the Flyers outshot the Blizzard 48-24. Winkler went 1-for-4 on the power-play and 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill.
The Flyers next game at the MJHL Showcase will go Tuesday night against the Virden Oil Capitals. Puck drop at the Seven Oaks Arena is 7pm.