For the first time in 2019, the Fort St. John Flyers will play on home ice, hoping for a big crowd to come out and support them against the Grande Prairie Athletics. Though the Flyers lost two games against Dawson Creek to end 2018, they won their first of the New Year, 9-5 over High Prairie, and will look to keep the ball rolling when the puck drops at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
This is the fifth matchup of the season between the 7-6 Flyers and the 8-3 Athletics, with both teams winning two of the previous games. The Flyers are five points behind the Athletics for second in the West Division with a game in hand, and need to capitalize on the opportunities they have to make up ground on Grande Prairie. Including tonight's game, both these teams play just once more this season, but as all three teams in the West make the playoffs, the two will make some noise against each other in the post-season as well.
When it comes to the back end, the two teams are pretty similar this season. Grande Prairie has allowed 53 goals against on the season compared to 59 for the Flyers. Kiefer Smiley will get the start for Grande Prairie, sporting a 6-6 record to go with his 3.73 goals against average. Travis McLean will be in net for the Flyers, and is 4-3 on the year, allowing 4.49 goals per game.
The Athletics have a stronger attack then the Flyers this year, potting 87 to the Flyers' 73. Dennis Rix leads Grande Prairie with 33 points, good enough for fifth place in the NPHL, while Rick Cleaver leads the Flyers with 24 points.
The Flyers have the weekend off, but will take on the 12-2 Senior Canucks in Dawson Creek on Jan. 15, before playing the middling Grimshaw Huskies for two games. If there's ever a chance for the Flyers to get back in the division race, i'ts now.
— Stats from Chris Clegg
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.