Huskies win, Pirates scuttled

Grimshaw Huskies forward Mike Bayrack reaches for the puck as Falher Pirates’ goaltender Ty Gullickson prepares to slide into position to make a save. Defending are Jay Anderson [No 37] and Morgan MacLean [No. 67]. The Huskeis won 6-3 to clinch the series.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

In the end, the Falher Pirates must be left wondering what might have been.

The Pirates were punted from the NPHL playoffs after losing a 6-3 home ice decision to the visiting Grimshaw Huskies Feb. 13.

In winning the best-of-five Preliminary series in the maximum five games, the Huskies became the first team in NPHL history to win as few as three games in the regular season and win a playoff series. It has to be one of the league’s major upsets in its history dating back to 1953-54.

The Pirates need look no further than its anemic offence. They lost seven straight games to end the regular season and three of five in the playoffs, meaning 10 losses in 12 games. In those 12 games, the Pirates scored only 35 goals or under three goals per game. They potted 80 in 18 regular season games, but only 21 goals in their last seven regular season games; 59 goals in 11 games before.

In the playoffs, the trend continued. The Pirates scored only 14 goals in five games and were shut out once.

Huskies’ goaltender Riley Medves was the star in the series. He stopped 152 of 161 shots overall, and 86 of 89 the last two games after the Pirates led the series 2-1.

The Pirates outshot the Huskies 216-162 in the series, or by 54 shots over the five games.

Meanwhile, the Pirates power play was brutal, scoring only twice in 25 chances, for a meager eight per cent success rate.

The Pirates had two chances to win the series after a thrilling 4-3 overtime win in Game 3. The first was in Grimshaw Feb. 11 but they lost 3-0.

Medves was outstanding stopping all 44 shots directed his way as the Pirates outshot the Huskies 44-41. They were also blanked in seven power play chances.

After a scoreless firs period, Christian Kenny scored twice in the second period, his first two goals of the playoffs. One was on power play in the last minute. It was all the Huskies needed.

In the third period, Tyler Brenner added an insurance goal with 2:52 remaining.

Still, the Pirates had a chance and at home. Walker Cote’s second period goal tied the game 1-1 after Kenny scored in the first to give the Huskies the lead.

However, the Huskies scored three goals later in the second to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Bond Hawryluk began the onslaught with a power play goal, then Noah Ross and Mike Bayrack scored and the Huskies were home-free.

Kris Desjarlasi did add a last-minute goal in the second to close the gap to 4-2.

However, Ty Wiebe gave the Huskies a three-goal lead again in the third period at the 8:15 mark. Dakota Conroy scored a power pay goal with 6:39 left but Bayrack’s empty-netter sealed the win and series.

Medves stopped 43 of 45 shots to record the win.

The Huskies advanced to the NPHL Semi-Final against the first place Dawson Creek Canucks. They lost the opening game in Dawson Creek 4-1 on Feb. 15. In the other series, the defending champion Grande Prairie Athletics defeated the Manning Comets, also by a 4-1 score.

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