A’s draw first blood

Falher’s Jay Anderson tries unsuccessfully to get past Grande Prairie defenceman Andrew Buote during the first game of the NPHL Semi-Final Feb. 21. Behind the play is Grande Prairie’s Blake Clement.

Pirates’ third period rally falls just short

Chris Clegg
For The Express

In the end, there was not enough time on the clock to complete a comeback.

The Falher Pirates scored two late goals but still fell 6-5 in the opening game of their NPHL Semi-Final series against the visiting Grande Prairie Athletics Feb. 21.

The Pirates scored the first two goals and the last two goals of the game. Now, if they could only work on the middle portion of the game.

The Pirates’ red-hot power play went to work early. After a sizzling 10-for-20 clip against High Prairie in a sweep of their opening round series, they went back to work with power play goals from Neil Maisonneuve and Kevin Monfette in the first seven minutes to take a 2-0 lead.

However, after Monfette’s goal Dakota Mason was sent off for kneeing and the A’s power play responded. Alex Curran scored his first of two goals in the period to put the A’s on the scoreboard.

Blake Clement tied the game 2-2 before Curran gave the A’s the lead with 3:48 left in the period. It was a lead the A’s would not give up the rest of the night.

At the end of the period, the Pirates found themselves down 3-2 despite outshooting the A’s 20-10.

In the second period, Tanner Labbe scored the only goal at even strength just before the midway point.

In the third, Kelvin Neustaeter scored at the seven-minute mark and the A’s looked to be home and cooled.

Monfette breathed life back into the game with his second power play goal of the night just past the midway point, but with 4:14 left Dennis Rix restored the A’s two-goal lead with an even-strength tally.

The Pirates did have some life left in them, however, Mason scored just 50 seconds after Rix to close the gap to 6-4. Joel Pelletier’s power play goal with only four seconds left closed the gap to one goal but there was too little time to mount a final rally.

With the win, the A’s steal home ice advantage in the series. The game was a penalty-filled affair with 63 penalties in minutes and 14 power plays between the clubs – 10 to the Pirates.

The loss was the first in the playoffs for the Pirates, who are now 4-1. The A’s sport a 5-2 record after defeating the defending champion Fort St. John Flyers in the first round.

Falher’s Matts Maisonnevue skates past the check of Grande Prairie defenceman Andrew Buote Feb. 21 during Game 1.


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