Offence goes south as Pirates lose 2

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A fine start to the NPHL season has gone by the wayside for the Falher Pirates.
The Pirates lost two road games last week and now have lost four of six games after winning three straight games to start the season, and have fallen from first place in the process.
The Pirates lost a pair of 4-2 games, first at Grande Prairie Dec. 1, then the next night at Valleyview. They now trail the Manning Comets by three points (13-10) in the East Division with the Comets having played one less game.
In Grande Prairie, Athletics jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Darby Berg and Riley King. Pat Rowan’s sixth of the season with 3:24 left in the period closed the gap to 2-1.
The second period was scoreless with the Athletics preserving their slender 2-1 lead, despite being outshot 25-17.
In the third period, Kelvin Neustaeter’s first of the season at the 5:59 mark proved to be the game-winner.
Things got interesting in the last two minutes. Darren Kramer scored to make it 3-2 setting up an exciting finish, but Lyndin Lewis scored unassisted into an empty net with 21 ticks left on the clock to seal the win.
The Pirates outshot the Athletics 35-31 in the contest and were not with opportunities. They were 0-7 on the power play, however, and watched goaltender Tyler Vante Erve stop 33 of 35 shots to record the win.
In Valleyview the next night a similar script was written. The Jets jumped out a to a 2-0 lead with ex-Pirate Koltin Caron scoring in the first period and Devan Klassen in the second.
The Pirates, meanwhile were mostly firing blanks for the second straight night. Despite 19 shots on goal, Kale L’Hirondelle stopped them all.
In the third, the Pirates rallied. Neil Maisonneuve’s first of the season at the 3:05 mark broke the shutout bid. Less than one minute later at 4:02, Matts Maisonneuve tied the game with this second of the season.
However, later in the period Neil Maisonneuve took a cross-checking penalty and Zac Mott scored to make it 3-2 on the power play with 6:06 left.
Tyler Wirth made it 4-2 with 4:46 left to provide insurance.
The Pirates did have their chances. Valleyview took consecutive penalties after Wirth made it 4-2. With 6:01 left, Frazier Caron was sent to the sin bin for tripping, but Eric Dentinger’s hooking penalty with 5:49 left, coupled with Dylan Cunningham’s hooking penalty with 3:11 left, was too much for the Pirates to overcome.
One thing the Pirates can rest their laurels on is their outstanding penalty kill. Despite the late goal to the Jets, the Pirates have killed 44 of 47 power plays this season, good enough for a 93.62 per cent clip. Even more amazing is it ranks second in the NPHL to Manning’s 94.87 success rate, having killed 37 of 39 shorthanded chances.
The Pirates outshot the Jets 35-28 with L’Hirondelle picking up the win and Chris Key the loss.
The Pirates will get a chance to close the gap on the Comets in their lone game this week. Dec. 9, the Pirates host the Comets. Last week, the schedule did not work in the Pirates’ favour when they had to go to Valleyview after playing in Grande Prairie the previous night. The Jets were waiting at home resting. This week, the Comets play the night before at home against Vallevyiew while the Pirates are idle.

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