Defending champs blitz Pirates in opener

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Six different players scored to lead the defending champion Grande Prairie Athletics to a 6-3 win over the Falher Pirates in the opening night of NPHL action Nov. 1.

Calvin Sanders, Max McNeil, Tanner Labbe, Parker Sharp, Sam Bosek and Lyndin Himer-Lewis scored in the win while the Pirates received goals from Trevor Tokarz, Morgan MacLean and Joel Pelletier.

Tokarz’s first period goal gave the Pirates their only lead of the night. However, Sanders and McNeil scored before the end of the period to give the A’s a 2-1 lead.

In the second period, former A’s player MacLean tied the game 2-2 but Labbe and Sharp scored before the end of the period to give the A’s a 4-1 lead. Sharp’s goal – the eventual game-winner – was scored shorthanded as the A’s took three straight minor penalties late in the frame, giving the Pirates a chance to rally.

In the third period, the A’s put the game away on goals from Bosek and Himer-Lewis, the latter on a power play.

Pelletier’s power play goal ended the game’s scoring.

The win was the A’s sixth opening night win in eight years and continued a win-loss trend dating back five years. The A’s have now won eight of their last 10 home openers.

The Pirates have now lost three of their last four season openers after a stretch where they won seven of eight. The Pirates had also won 9 of 11 road opening games before the loss.

The game also marked the coaching debut of Bruce Cunningham, who coached the High Prairie Regals last season.

The Pirates tough early season schedule continues next week as they host the Dawson Creek Canucks in their home opener Nov. 16. The A’s pay a visit to Falher Nov. 14 before the Pirates go back on the road Nov. 16 at High Prairie.

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