The 2018-19 season has been an up and down season for the Fort St. John Senior Flyers, with more lows than highs it seems. Yet the team entered the NPHL playoffs on a high note, winning three of its last four games, and is poised to put up a good fight in the first round.
The Flyers finished the regular season with an 11-9 record and 22 points to finish third in the West Division and fifth in the league overall. That’s a far cry from the Flyers teams who won the Lawrence Cup for most points the previous two seasons. Fort St. John is up against the 13-4-3 Grande Prairie Athletics in the first round of the playoffs. Grande Prairie finished the year with 29 points, which ties them with the Falher Pirates for second-most in the league behind Dawson Creek.
Game one took place in Grande Prairie on Feb. 5 after the News went to print. Game two is in Fort St. John on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the teams are back in Grande Prairie for game three on Saturday, Feb. 9. All games start at 8:30 p.m.
“If we have the commitment from our guys to come to road games, we have a chance. If we continue to go on the road with just 12 guys like we have been lately, we’ll give away our road games and we can’t afford that,” said Flyers GM Lee Hartman.
The Flyers were expected to have 15 players make the trip for game one, much better than 12 but still a lot less than the 20-player limit. The Flyers last played the Athletics on Jan. 31 in the final game of the regular season. With nothing to play for, the Flyers had just 10 non-goalie skaters, but still gave the Athletics all they could handle, losing 5-4.
That game was the first loss for Fort St. John in four games, and shows the potential the Flyers have to compete with Grande Prairie. The Athletics beat the Flyers in four of their six matchups this season.
It’s a cliché to say a team hasn’t played its best hockey of the season, but for the Flyers, that really does seem to be the case.
“I don’t think anyone has seen us at our best this year, but we’re certainly trending that way. We could surprise some teams and I hope that we do,” said Hartman.
Fort St. John finished the season with 113 goals, 10 less than the Athletics. The Flyers only allowed 83 goals against, good for third-fewest in the league, but the Athletics had the second-best mark with just 74 goals allowed.
The Flyers held a gala at the Pomeroy Hotel on Feb. 2 to raise money for the Coy Cup, which the team is hosting. It’s not yet known how much money was raised, but 100 people came out and the event was very successful, according to Flyers President Paul van Nostrand.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.