With the NHL largely doing away with the shootout, the Fort St. John Senior Flyers played homage to the craft on the weekend, winning both their games via the skill contest.
On Friday the Flyers treated the home fans at North Peace Arena to a 4-3 shootout win over the Spirit River Rangers, with goalie Troy Hunt stopping five straight shootout chances and Robbie Sidhu getting the game winner as the team’s seventh shooter.
“Troy Hunt was the reason why we even had an opportunity to win that game. If it wasn’t for Troy tonight we would have been blown out of the rink,” Head coach Andrew Leriger said.
Leriger also pointed to a lack of ice time over the last two weeks and a long layoff between games over that same time as contributing factors to the Flyers slow start that had them outshot 23-12 after two periods.
“The first period was a bit barn burner for them,” Hunt said, after finishing the game with 31 saves. “They took it to us pretty much the whole 20 minutes. Sometimes as a goalie if you are having a decent night those are the best periods because you don’t get out of your groove. I kind of enjoy those.”
On the scoreboard, the Flyers struck first with a goal from Josh Bruha, before the Rangers responded midway through the second. Rick Cleaver responded for the Flyers before the Rangers tied it once again heading into the third.
Tyler Loney put the home side up late on a strong individual effort, but the Rangers again tied things up late to send the game to overtime.
Against a Rangers’ team that eliminated them from postseason play the last two years and is typically one of the top squads in the NPHL, Leriger said there’s still a lot of work left to do for his team.
“We got lucky, I’ll take the win. Our guys are severely out of game shape right now, just because we haven’t had any ice… we’ll have a couple practices next week to get the guys going again,” he said.
The Flyers made NPHL history on Saturday night with their second shootout of the weekend as the first team in league history to play shootouts in back-to-back nights.
They travelled to Grimshaw for the historic performance and grabbed a 4-3 win in the process.
The Flyers continued with their trend of slow starts, falling behind 2-0 before Rick Cleaver got them on the board early in the second period. After another Grimshaw goal, Brennen Giroux and Josh Bruha scored two minutes apart to tie the game at three.
In the shootout, Bruha was the only player on either side to score, with Travis McLean making five stops for the Flyers.
McLean finished the game with 36 saves to earn the win. He’s now got wins in his first two career NPHL starts.
The Flyers fired 43 shots on the Grimshaw goal, a welcomed sign for head coach Andrew Leriger who preached high shot totals to his team early and often in exhibition play.
Next up for the Senior Flyers is a visit to Manning to play the Comets on Saturday, Nov. 21. The next home game will be the following Tuesday, Nov. 24 as they will host the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks.