That’s a wrap!
The Fort St. John Senior Flyers finished up their North Peace Hockey League season on Friday night with a 4-0 win over the Spirit River Rangers, the Flyers’ sixth consecutive win.
With their AAA status, the Flyers cannot move on to the NPHL’s postseason, but instead have two exhibition games against the Innisfail Eagles and the Savage Cup to look forward to.
After only 16 games in the NPHL, the Flyers finished third in the West Division and fourth overall in the league with a record of 12-3-1.
“It’s always a little anti-climatic when you’re not going to the playoffs and it’s been like that every year, but I feel especially good about this year with the strong finish we had,” said Flyers’ head coach Darrel Leahy on Friday. “We didn’t have a lot of bodies but the boys played smart, dumped it in well, played hard and played well defensively in our own end. I feel really good about their finish in the league.”
On Friday the Flyers played the Rangers for the second time in a row, and although they narrowly beat the Rangers 6-5 last weekend on the road, the Flyers’ 4-0 shutout this past weekend was a good representation of where the Flyers are at.
Goaltender Jared Anderson stopped all 23 shots that came his way on home ice while 10 different Flyers walked away with points in the 4-0 win.
“The boys have been playing really well lately, our passing’s good, the hustle’s good. Everything’s going good,” Leahy said. “Tonight the young fellow played well in net and they couldn’t get anything by him.”
Leahy said he was especially impressed with his blue liners.
“The defence has been playing really good the last three games,” he said. “The game against Grande Prairie at home, they were unbeatable almost, and then in Spirit River last weekend, again, they moved the puck so well, so fast. That night they simply couldn’t catch us.”
“Tonight there weren’t many errors. A couple times maybe we hung on a little too but boy they played with poise, they took the hit and still got the puck. Pretty flawless for them back there.”
Jeff Shipton opened scoring Friday night with an even-handed goal after 13 minutes of play in the first period. Despite a spackling of penalties and a questionable call on Matt Shuya at the end of the first, Anderson kept the Rangers off the board.
The second wasn’t much prettier in terms of discipline. Paul Wiens scored early to put the Flyers up 2-0 but things got ugly with a few undisciplined shots and the calls that followed. A player from both teams, Gerard DiCaire and Ranger Colin Lefley. received game misconducts for shots to the head past the 30-minute mark of the game while Fort St. John went on the odd-man advantage as Spirit River’s Riley Jebb sat for roughing.
It wasn’t until the next power play that the Flyers would score, however, as Tyler Loney potted one with 1:32 to go in the second for the home team’s third goal of the night.
The only goal of the third was Jeff Fast’s empty-netter with 47 seconds to go in the game. Shots were 29-23 for Fort St. John and the Flyers finished their regular season with a 4-0 shutout.
Although they’ll still have practices, the Flyers have over a month-long break before they travel to Innisfail, Alberta to play the AA Eagles in two exhibition games. Coach Leahy said he isn’t too worried about the length of time between games.
“No sense worrying in stuff you don’t know about,” he said, shrugging. “Who knows, may be the best thing for them, but we’re going to have a break here and we still have some ice time.”
“They’ve got a really good team,” he added about the Eagles. “They’re second place in [the Chinook] league only behind Bentley and they beat Bentley at least once that I know about. Coached by [Brian] Sutter and he’s brought in some players, yeah they’ll be a good team.”
On Mar. 21 the first game of the 2013 Savage Cup will be played at North Peace Arena between the Flyers and the Powell River Regals. The Flyers were swept in last year’s Savage Cup in Powell River and are hoping to take advantage of having home ice this year and advance to the 2013 Allan Cup.
The Flyers’ next game will be Mar. 8 in Innisfail, Alberta.