As the year draws to a close and the busyness of the holiday season increases, the Fort St. John Senior Flyers are staying focused on the task at hand — finishing the year on a hot streak.
The Flyers have won two in a row, and at 6-4 are just four points back of both the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks and Grande Prairie for first place in the NPHL West Division. The Flyers have two crucial games against the Canucks this week before a two-week break, and four points would be a great way to end what’s been an up and down first half of the season.
The Flyers beat the Canucks 7-4 on Dec. 13 in Dawson Creek, and will look to build off that win on Dec. 20, when the Flyers host the Canucks. The two teams play again on Dec. 22 in Dawson Creek.
“The thing with Dawson is they bring speed and have lots of depth. The last game, (goalie Travis McLean) stood on his head and we won shorthanded, but I want to see more of what we had tonight,” said Flyers Head Coach Andrew Leriger.
Leriger was referring to his team’s 8-0 win against the Manning Comets on Dec. 15 in which the Flyers controlled every aspect of the game and only allowed 25 shots, a good recipe for success.
The Flyers know these games are important, and despite the Falher Pirates holding the top record in the league (8-3-1), see the Canucks and Athletics as the teams to beat.
“We know (Dawson Creek) and Grande Prairie are our biggest competition, and we want to play our against them and bring our best effort every time on the ice,” said the Flyers leading scorer and defending NPHL co-MVP Rick Cleaver.
Cleaver is up to his old tricks, with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) on the season, good for fourth in the league. The next four Flyers with the most points make up the team’s core, a strong group that leads the team every season: Joey Massingham, Adam Horst, Reid Campbell, and Jeff Shipton.
Stepping up alongside them are two new Flyers who are starting to make a name for themselves as they settle into their roles on the team. Kelly Loudoun has played just seven of the team’s 10 games, but has seven points (four goals, three assists) and is a guy that can do anything asked of him.
“(Loudoun) has been awesome for us. He brings lots of depth, and plays strong defense, and can play both the powerplay and the penalty kill,” Leriger said.
The other player is Brandon Pfeil, who is emerging as a scoring threat for the team with two goals in each of the last two games.
“Pfeil is amazing, he continues to step up each game as he gets more confidence, and he’s becoming a sniper,” said Leriger.
The Flyers can score, there’s no doubt about that. Their 61 goals are the fourth most in the league, and just two fewer than the Canucks have scored in the same number of games. But where the team really makes its name is on defence — the Flyers have allowed just 42 goals, with only the Canucks allowing fewer at 37.
The Flyers will go as far as McLean and Ty Gullickson can take them, and the goalies will need to be at their best this week for the Flyers to head into Christmas on a four-game winning streak.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.