Gamble slams door to send Pirates to 2nd loss

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It certainly wasn’t the start the Falher Pirates were looking for this season, but in a year where every team makes the playoffs, coach Daniel Aubin is looking at the bigger picture.

“I’m not concerned with the result,” said Aubin after the Pirates lost their home opener 4-3 to the Manning Comets Nov. 3.

“We have a season long plan and our play is on course.”

The Pirates dropped to 0-2 coupled with their season-opening loss 4-1 at Dawson Creek one week earlier. The second defeat can be blamed squarely on Comets’ goaltender Braden Gamble, who stopped 58 of 61 shots the Pirates fired at him, including 29 in the third period alone.

“Gamble was Gamble,” said Aubin.

“When he’s on his game he’s hard to beat.”

The Pirates outshot the Comets 61-36 in the contest.

“The guys played well enough to win, most of the five-on-five play was in the Manning end, we just couldn’t beat their goalie,” said Aubin.

Mitch Cook gave the Comets a 1-0 first period lead on the power play while Eric Dentinger sat in the sin bin for interference. It was the only goal of the first period.

In the second period, Cale Fox tied the game 1-1 just after the three-minute mark. The teams battled until late in the period when Ty Wiebe gave the Comets a 2-1 lead. Wiebe and Cook both joined the Comets after the Grimshaw Huskies folded before the season began and will add much-needed offence to the Comets’ attack.

The game was decided in the first minute of the third period. Michael Gillen and Brendan Baumgartner scored in the first 50 seconds to give Comets a 4-1 lead.

However, the loss wasn’t from lack of effort. Cruz Cote scored just before the three-minute mark to close the gap to 4-2. Despite blitzing the Comets’ net most of the period, the Pirates could not buy a goal until 6:18 left when Dallas Brochu gave the Pirates hope, but Gamble closed the door the rest of the way.

The Pirates were scoreless in four power play chances and are now 1-for-7 to start the season.

“Our power play has to be better but that will come as guys get more familiar with each other,” said Aubin. “We had chances on it.”

The Pirates are missing some veterans from last year (Darren Kramer and Pat Rowan) but where some players are missing opportunity knocks for others.

“We have some new young players that are learning as we go and trying to figure out their role on the team,” said Aubin, adding he expects the veterans to return in December and January.

The Pirates enjoy over a week off before they travel to Grande Prairie Nov. 16 to play the Athletics. Next home game is Nov. 18 against the Spirit River Rangers before going to Manning the following week. The Pirates could not have drawn a tougher five games to start the season.

“I’m happy with our team and our progress so far,” said Aubin.

“This week off will give us some practice time and will allow to modify and adjust a few things in our game.”

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